Manage Your Time and Yourself

Take the time to identify the most important priorities for life and business.

In contrast to entrepreneurs, employees are generally given assignments with specific deadlines. However, entrepreneurs don’t have anyone to supervise them. Instead, they create a myriad of possibilities and options for themselves: what to do, when and for how long.

Freedom of choice in entrepreneurship can be liberating, but can also be a bit frightening. Presented with too many choices, studies indicate that we procrastinate, stick with the status quo or make ill-advised decisions. Managing time can be a challenge.

Beyond Just Managing Time

Why do entrepreneurs want to better “manage” our time? To be more productive? To be able to check items off our to-do list? To make more money? Some argue that we’re driven to manage our time to heighten our accomplishments, to flourish and to realize joy.

Rather than just managing your time, consider first managing yourself, reflected by the choices you make and the lifestyle you lead. Long-time management guru and respected author Peter Drucker wrote, “Doing the right thing is more important than doing things right.” In other words, time management, or managing ourselves, begins with your decisions and resulting actions.

Consider common obstacles to productivity and to using your time more effectively and efficiently: distractions and interruptions, stress and worries, insufficient sleep, poor health, lack of confidence and lack of discipline.

In order to increase your productivity, to accomplish more, you need to take care of, and invest time and effort in, your well being—to be true to your inner self. Read, learn and explore about your profession and personal interests. Be child-like and playful. Exercise regularly and vigorously. Maintain a proper diet. Meditate. Have lunch with a trusted friend, just to talk and visit. Recreate. By developing and maintaining habits such as these, you create a lifestyle in which you have more energy, allowing you to think at a higher cognitive level, to be more creative and to think more positively.

The 80/20 Rule

In the early 20th century, business management consultant Joseph Juran developed the Pareto Principle, named after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto. Pareto had observed in 1906 that 80 percent of the land in Italy was owned by 20 percent of the population. Now commonly referred to as the 80/20 rule, Juran expanded Pareto’s observation to a wide number of business applications. The modern-day belief for general purposes is that we realize 80 percent of our accomplishments in 20 percent of our time spent working on them. The overriding question is: What are you doing with the other 80 percent of your time? And, how can you “live” more in the 20 percent where you’re most productive?

Business owners tend to think of the 80/20 rule in a statistical sense. But, do we take the time and effort to clearly identify and spend more time in that 20 percent zone? For example, consider the following:

If 80% of your new business comes from 20% of your marketing and business development activities, why not enhance and spend more time in those 20% of your activities that you enjoy and excel in?

If 80% of your employee turnover is a result of 20% of the variety of causes, why not address and improve on those 20% causes as part of your company policy and human resource operations, and thus dramatically increase employee retention? When employees leave, do you conduct an exit survey that clearly and truthfully identifies their reasons for leaving?

If 80% of your revenue is derived from 20% of your customers and clients, what are the common traits amongst those customers or clients, and where can you find more of them?

A worthwhile investment of your time and of yourself is to develop your own personal life wheel. A life wheel is a graphical representation of the various aspects of your life, symbolized as spokes on a wheel. These “spokes” may include spirituality/religion, health, wealth, family and friends, hobbies and recreation, relationships, career and personal space.

For an example of a life wheel template, go to www.discoveryourpersonality.com. Think of where you stand relative to your various personal and professional goals in each of those aspects of your life, and plot them on a scale of 1-10 on each spoke. Then ask yourself, “What else do I want to achieve in each of these aspects of my life?” “Where am I short?” Finally, ask, “What choices and actions am I undertaking each day to grow closer to my goals and dreams along each spoke of the wheel?”

Being busy is of itself not a fulfilling endeavor. Try spending more time “being,” rather than “doing,” and see how your life becomes more meaningful and fulfilling.

About Dean Long

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