“There are never enough hours in the day.”
This is a common excuse and everyone is using it. As I figured out over time, for our customers and colleagues, it’s exasperating to hear, and only highlights our poor time management.
When you bring up the topic of Time Management, it’s often dismissed as nonsense; business jargon from do-gooders with too much time on their hands. Try working in the real world is the response, no one could possible understand or do their job in the measly 24 hours allotted every day.
Even if you start work every day with the greatest intentions, time management is constantly challenged. You are distracted by phone calls, e-mails, or that mountain of mail that arrives on your desk daily. After hours on the computer you are lethargic and cannot concentrate, or the demands on your time are causing you considerable stress.
Or here’s another scenario… The project you are working on commands more time and resources than you can possibly handle, but you are reluctant to delegate this project to a colleague, contractor or employee.
There Is Logical Reasoning Behind This
Maybe you don’t want someone else to take the credit for this project; you want the praise, or even want to play the martyr for completing this task alone.
Another—and equally misleading—reason for not delegating work is the fear that the other person may not be able to complete it to the same standard and you will have to waste more time putting it right. You know the age-old saying that if you want to get something done correctly, you are best doing it yourself.
How insane is that…
Of course, if you cannot produce services to an agreed deadline, people may look elsewhere for a more reliable source. The internet has made this even more demanding. As technology has advanced, human beings struggle to keep up.
Also, some folks expect instant responses to their e-mails. They can purchase goods online in seconds and they can instantly buy into any online service with very little effort.
Still, performing all tasks by yourself due to fear of rejection or imperfectionism is a surefire way to 24/7 busyness (i.e., all-nighters) and discarding freedom.
So, Now That We’ve Heard The Excuses Let’s Look At Fixing The Problem
A successful Project Manager knows that you have to organize every project into small easily manageable tasks. By breaking the project down into small pieces, you can assign a timescale and budget to each of these components and then delegate roles. Delegating administrative and less important tasks gives you breathing room and time for finalizing more important and/or more confidential tasks.
Ever heard of the “80-20 rule” or the Pareto Principle?
The Pareto Principle is a business model that decrees that we achieve 80% of our results from only 20% of our efforts. The model is based on the Pareto Index, a parameter outlined by Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, when he proposed that 20% of the population owned 80% of the wealth.
New models have changed the percentages slightly over the years, but the 80-20 rule can be applied to many different areas from the laws of nature, to human and social behavior, such as our network of friends, recognized when we spent 80% of our social time with 20% of our friends (or that 80% of our sales is generated by 20% of our customers.)
When you apply this to Time Management, the 80-20 rule seems quite outstanding. How can you possibly achieve 80% of your results with 20% of the effort. Does that mean you only have to put in 20% of the hours?
Well, when you start delegating and outsourcing, yes, definitely!
Now you probably recognize that you work hard 20% of the day, while the rest of the day is full of distractions, breaks for coffee, needless conversations on the telephone, browsing the internet instead of working, and on and on…
Ha! I caught you. :-)
Think about how you organize your time. Break projects down into small manageable tasks and don’t be distracted by those 80% time fillers. Plan your week, plan your day, and use whichever method gets the best result.
If you can, only review and answer your e-mails twice a day and not every ten minutes, when the server drops down the latest batch of junk into your inbox (including that distracting sound alert, uh!)
The same applies to your mail. Organize as it arrives. There should be only three categories: Action now, File, or Throw Away. If you have to add an Action Later category, you will soon find that the contents will end up as junk as well.
Although many businesses have standards of correspondence, when you receive a letter, rather than spending time typing another letter in return, could you simply write your response on the bottom and send it back? It’s good for the environment too.
And as for all that paperwork – clear your desk. It takes only five or ten minutes at the end of the day. This allows you to further organize your work for the following morning and walk into the office without being confronted by a mountain of paperwork.
Write To-do Lists And Prioritize Your Time
Another tried and tested Time Management technique is to list the five most important tasks to do in each day, or maybe ten depending on your Internet business, but make that list and stick to it. Prioritize the list further by listing the tasks in order of importance. Then make sure you complete the most important task first thing in the morning!
This tip alone—if applied consistently—saves you another 1-2 hours each and every day. (Don’t believe me? Why not just do it and experience it yourself… ;-) So did I.)
Finally, delegate any tasks that you are able to, empowering your contractors to be fully involved in your internet businesses success. After all, you should be managing your business, not suffering under the stresses of not having enough time…