Invest Time

Invest Time Contents

I.  Important vs. Urgent

    a)  The tyranny of the urgent
    b)  Discernment skill  

II. Becoming productive vs. being busy

    a) Return on time spent
        o Plan
        o Prioritize
        o Organize
        o Finish

III.Discover and diagnose quality time

    a) Diagnostic tool

IV. Making choices about time investment

    a) Simple tasks
    b) Complex tasks

V.  Managing complex tasks/projects


VI. Summary

    a) Why change is necessary
    b) Working smarter not harder
    c) Use of routines
    d) Turn projects into processes
    e) Supervising people
    f) Prevent time problems or clean up after the elephants in the parade


I. Important vs. Urgent Priorities

Time is our most precious investment because, unlike money, we only get 24 hours in each day. 

Most of us attempt to keep up with what is going on in our lives.  There are plenty of time management experts that focus on the use of time management tools to make the most of time.

While time management has it’s place, it is not a substitute for becoming better at planning and setting priorities.  Sorting out urgent priorities from important ones is critical.

When we work “in the business” to manage the details as they arise and keep them under control we attempt to keep up with an increasing work load.

When we work “on the business” to provide a productive environment we learn to anticipate outcomes and play connect-the-dots in advance.

The lowest level of producing results is to be stuck in a rut where we primarily work on the urgent things that come across our desks or our personal radar screens.  We get trapped in the tyranny of the urgent.


                                              TYRANNY OF THE URGENT

                                          URGENT/IMPORTANT                    IMPORTANT


                                               URGENT &                                               NOT URGENT
                                       NOT IMPORTANT                                  NOT IMPORTANT

We have to rely on the skill of discernment to aid us in deciding what’s important:  

  • Who are we and who we are not
  • Who are our customers are and who they are not
  • Who our competition is and who they are not
  • The kind of business we want to pursue and the kind we want to avoid
  • The things we will do to gain business and the things we will not do
  • The people we will hire and the people we will not hire
  • Where we must invest our resources and where we must ignore  

II Becoming Productive vs. Being Busy

We all have the same amount of time.  It is easy to confuse being busy rather than productive.  One measure of time productivity is return on time spent. 


Step #1 Plan    

  • Think ahead before acting
  • Crystallize the work to be done (if at all)
  • Put first things first

 Step #2 Prioritize

  • Use discernment to make intelligent choices about what is important and what is not
  • Answer the question, how well do my priorities tie into my goals
  • Manage low risk/high reward. 

Step #3 Organize

  • Develop and utilize the tools to manage the tasks, events, schedules and projects 

Step #4 Complete

  • Decide what’s important vs. what’s urgent
  • Determine what degree of excellence is required
  • Take the appropriate action
  • Measure progress
  • Finish

III. Discover and Diagnose Quality Time

People do not value our time any more than they perceive that we value our time!

We make choices about how to invest our time…no one makes them for us.  If we have too many activities going on, guess who created the situation to begin with.

With the help of this useful tool, we can discover and diagnose our own time.

By breaking your time out into these four more manageable bundles, you will be able to better understand how you are spending your time, what is driving the decisions to spend time, and how to better balance the important things with the urgent.

A bad news flash for you is that the better job that you do prioritizing the urgent things, the more people expect from you.  Because you make the urgent things look so easy to accomplish, people assume that it was easy to get the urgent things done so they expect even more on short notice the next time.  In other words, we ‘teach people’ how to abuse our time.

IV. Criteria to Use to Make Choices about Time Investment

As you decide what is important and what is urgent, consider these two illustrations:
1)  For simple tasks ask yourself
     a) What is the risk/reward to me or my business for making or not making this activity a priority?
     b)  Can I easily accomplish this task or is it complex and requires the involvement of others? 

                                                     PRIORITY SETTING TOOL    





 2) For complex tasks like deciding how to prioritize customers and prospects, consider the potential payback and the cost associated with each customer or prospect. 


V. Managing Complex Tasks/Projects

An important part of time management is to manage complex tasks with a lot of moving parts and people differently than simple repetitive tasks.  Here are two stages of tools that we can recommend through experience that will aid your ability to mange complex tasks and hold other people accountable for accomplishments of the tasks on a timetable that is acceptable.  1) ACTION PLANS    2) STRATEGIC OBJECTIVE

VI. Summary

To quote Albert Einstein ”The significant problems we have cannot be solved at the same level of thinking with which we created them”.

No matter how well organized you become, it is impossible to keep up.  As we learn and grow, we start working smarter not harder.  More responsibilities mean that we have more simple details that pile up and we make extra work for ourselves when we postpone things that are important to us until later.  We also start taking 'short cuts’  that lead to doing things over. 

Being a good time investor’ is a journey:
1) We learn how to make a routine out of repetitive tasks.  We want to make repetitive things happen automatically.  A routine develops the time, space, and manner for handling a large number of individual details.   By utilizing routines, we look for the  quickest method or take the time to develop productive habits of taking care of many details without thinking about them.

2) Next we learn how to turn the projects into processes file.

3)  As business grows so does our direct reports grow.  Having people to help us can be a real drain on time.  By focusing on three things, our people will be time savers and not time stealers.  Spend your time setting expectations, inspecting what you expect, and providing for consequences for the behaviors.

The key to productive use of our time lies in the fact that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”
a)  Make intelligent choices about what not to do
b)  Determine to what degree of excellence you do each task
c)  Be knowledgeable about and utilize preventative services
d)  Do things right the first time 
e)  Avoid problems in the first place by proper planning
f)  Hang around with people that are positive and avoid people that are negative
g) Deal with issues when they are insignificant before they become major issues
h) Do something to prevent a problem rather than dealing with it after it has happened.

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