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#591: How To Have More Time Than The Next Person

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Monday, June 20, 2011
Updated: Monday, June 20, 2011
Although I could certainly better manage my time, it seems some people get a whole lot more done than I do. I can accept that I waste time but is there some secret I am missing?

There are two issues here: how much time is consumed and what gets done. Is the lack of time real or is it just your perception? We all have the same 24 hours a day but some of us "never have enough time" and others seem to have a lot of well measured time to get things done. In many respects, how we view our time as a resource is the key to spending it well. We see others getting things done that we wished we could do, but you may be doing things they wished they had enough time for.

One key is to identify the best use of your time. As a consultant, this should be familiar: draw a 2X2 matrix of "important" vs. "urgent" and fill the cells with your activities for the past week. This will seem too simplistic until you actually do it (not so easy to recall everything you spent time on, is it?). Then note how much time each of these took. How much time did you spend on urgent but not important tasks? What tasks could you have delegated?

A word about technology. Having a smart phone buzzing, checking multiple email accounts, does not make you more productive. Each of these events consumes time and your ability to attend to your tasks at hand. The distractions alone can consume an extra 15-30% of your time just to return to fully attending to your tasks. On your matrix above, how much time did tasks take during which you were constantly distracted? Could they have taken less time if you could have focused on them exclusively?

Tip: Again, it seems pretty simple but identify tasks for which you need to concentrate (especially urgent and important) and then block out and honor that time. Set your email to check the server every 30 or 60 minute instead of more frequently. Turn off the phone for blocks of time. Each month, set a goal to reduce your wasted time by ten minutes per day. Even with this modest goal, you will have saved a week of time. Then see how much you are getting done that feels worthwhile.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  efficiency  practice management  work-life balance  your consulting practice 

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