Friday 19 April 2019

You can't do it all, so it's time to prioritise your time

Time is equally doled out for each of us. We get 24 hours in a day. That's it. Picture posed
Time is equally doled out for each of us. We get 24 hours in a day. That's it. Picture posed

Gina London

In business, a lot is written about so-called time management. I'm not going to add to that here. Because, of course, the reality is that time cannot be managed, changed or controlled. We can't 'find more time' because there isn't any more to be found.

Time is equally doled out for each of us. We get 24 hours in a day. That's it.

Okay then. So, here's today's question, folks: Knowing that time cannot be changed, how do you prioritise the things that invariably fill your time?

Yes, I'm presuming your time is full.

Because, if you're like me, your life is not a question of 'how do I fill my diary?' Your diary is already ripping at the seams. Mine is jammed with dates and places for meetings with prospects, contacts and friends.

It's crammed with scheduled call times. Full days are devoted to travelling to various cities and countries to work with clients. Friday afternoons are blocked for piano lessons for daughter Lulu.

All that and, yikes, I still need to make time to get my car inspected this month.

Wait. I already said we can't find time. Well, we can't make time either. What, then, can we do?

1 Make deliberate choices

First, let's face facts. We are 'choosing' time.

How our diaries become filled result from our choices. What project do you choose to start? What do you choose to finish? Who do you decide to meet? Who do you decide to call? Who do you email? In what order?

We choose how to use every moment of our time. Whether we believe this or not.

2 Don't treat all choices equally

Someone once said: "When small demands are given big attention, big problems can arise."

How you determine what is a small demand and what is a big demand also determines how you choose to use your time.

On Tuesday last week, I was in London working with some clients. When I finished my day's work, I had just two hours before meeting an old colleague and a new prospect for dinner.

I could use that time to craft my 'post-session assessment and recommendations' document for the clients I'd just coached - or I could check the email I had neglected during the day.

Succumbing to temptation, I clicked my inbox. Whoosh! I was greeted by a flood of requests for engagements, meetings and other questions that would have easily gobbled up two hours and then some if I chose to dive in.

Instead, I chose to prioritise. I closed my email window - after quickly forwarding some of the requests to my assistant to sort and schedule.

Others I marked so I would be reminded to read and respond to them personally later.

I turned back to tackle my assessments. This bigger task needed to be attended to first.

3 Change your choices

We don't always make great time/priority choices. But how well we adjust and redirect ourselves for next time can modify our time-wasting choices patterns.

For instance, one of the clients I spent three hours coaching in preparation of them chairing a financial panel in the week ahead, turned to me afterward and remarked: "That was a great session, but I wish we had worked together two months earlier."

He said this because he realised how valuable preparation further in advance would have been for him.

He would have had more time to apply our new strategy and structure to his remarks. He would have had more time to rehearse delivery. He would even have had time to schedule another session with me to polish his performance before the big day.

The good news is he is much better-prepared and confident that he would have been had we not met.

The better news will be if - for a subsequent event - he makes sure to work with me well in advance.

We can all benefit from our own behaviour audits. What can we do differently next time? How will different choices impact us?

4 You can't have it all

Growing up in the US, where the American Dream can sometimes be warped into an overpowering and overwhelming desire to obtain everything, this has been an especially difficult concept to accept.

But it's true.

Even though I would very much like to meet every single person who reaches out to me - or to speak at every engagement - or attend every one of Lulu's recitals, I cannot.

We must strategically and deliberately strive to put the best choice before the good choice. We simply cannot have it all.

What would you do if you only had one opportunity to meet an influential person?

What would you do if you only had one opportunity to talk to someone who could greatly impact your career and your income?

What would you do if you only had one opportunity to empower someone who may go on to positively impact the lives of many others?

You do. It's called your life.

Now what will you do?

Sunday Indo Business

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