By implementing a few simple time management strategies, you can create a sense of accomplishment every day, no matter how often you are interrupted or sidetracked by other people. The model we’ve been prototyping is the AM/PM model:
- Divide your daily activities list into two columns: impact and pseudo. The items on the offensive side of the column (impact) are tasks on your Daily 6. Depending on the day you’re on, these items are listed with a looming deadline, or they may be predictable activities. If you’re on a maintenance day backstage, these activities will be in four categories: delegation, prepare, repair, or upgrade. Preparations are those that are needed by key meetings coming up. Repairs ensure everything around you is in robust working order to keep your consistency and confidence high. Upgrades are systems you set and forget, to make things efficient and effortless. You make an effort now to have less effort later. Delegation is offloading by negation, automation, or re-assignment. All four categorical tasks should be performed in the AM hours between 6am-12 noon, on maintenance days.
- If you’re on a High-Performance day performing your top three money-making activities, again, these should be arranged in the AM hours, especially the first 90 minutes of the day. Because these days are intended to be highly focused on selling, please ensure the individuals in which you’re having value creation conversations are consistent with your ideal client criteria and opportunities 30% higher than your average transaction size, to multiply growth. Be your own bouncers in self-managing these two components.
- A common model for coaching clients is Monday and Wednesday are maintenance days, Tuesday and Thursday are high-performance days, and Friday, Saturday, and Sunday are free days. Schedule all your vacations a year in advance with the goal of having 150 days completely free of any work, and the remaining days are split between 8 high-performance days and 6 maintenance days per month. 25 of the 150 free days should be geared for ‘blue sky time’ for long-range planning and big picture reflection and thinking. I suggest 2 days a month.
- The key here isn’t the quantity of hours, but instead, the quality of activities, ROI, and relationships that are selected to generate the greatest value. The fundamental principle here isn’t “time for money.” Time isn’t money because you don’t get paid for time, but money buys time. It’s more about time to value. How much value can you generate for yourself and others given the quality of time you utilize? And the more earnings you sock away, the more time you have to enjoy access to living your life plan and recirculating the energy that it gives you to do it all with greater capacity.
- Getting up an hour early to get ahead on these days is a great habit. The items on the defensive side of the column are reactionary tasks or what I call “pseudo-work”, such as responding to crises, interruptions, voicemails, and emails. These are to be done in the PM time frame. Your lists will vary greatly according to your industry and how much autonomy you have in planning your day and allocating your time. The idea here is that the afternoon is a time when you now have the AM items behind you, and the energy left is for the pseudo-work, not the impact work.
- Review your list of impact items at the end of each day. Ask yourself, “What is one task that I can complete or make progress towards completing, that will make everything else simple, easy, or unnecessary tomorrow?” This task may not be the one you want to do, but it should be the first thing in the AM. In fact, it may be the one you have been procrastinating on the most. If you’ve been procrastinating on this after 14 days, delegate it. You’re probably not going to get to it, and the attempts to push yourself may not be worth the effort. Someone else has greater voluntary energy than you do on it. Focus on tasks that give you energy, that way you do them with a sense of voluntary urgency. Handoff any task immediately that inspires the most dread.
- If it’s realistic to complete the entire task that day, firmly resolve to work on it until it’s finished. Getting things done is greater value than chipping away a little at a lot of things. Use the 80% rule to complete 4/6 items you list on your Daily 6. Doing this will give you a sense of accomplishment. If the list is greater than 6 hours of tasks, try to keep it to no more than four hours. Break the tasks down into sub-steps if this is the case. Always choose the amount of time you intend to spend on each task, then arrange them in your schedule to follow the sequence. Always tackle the tasks you’re most reluctant to do first among others on the list.
- If it’s a long-term project that you can’t realistically complete in a day’s time, give it a minimum of 2 hours. One hour is easy to bypass, but two hours is substantial enough to get you to keep the commitment. Spending two hours on offense is more than nothing! No matter how much time you allocate, make sure you fulfill the commitment. Use a stopwatch to time yourself and turn it off every time you get interrupted. You will quickly see how fast your offensive work becomes defensive reacting. Practicing staying on task is a skill you can develop, but removing distractions preemptively with good preparation, anticipation, and planning. Staying on task has to do with making good choices moment to moment—and electing to negate and avoid other tasks equally well. It’s about trade-offs. You will never get to it all–so let go of your ideas of perfection and focus on the most important things first–your daily 6.
- Change your scenery on your thematic day blocking. On maintenance days, go into the office like going backstage. On high-performance days, stay front-stage. Don’t go into the office; it could be a snake bite. If you must go in, take your laptop and phone to the conference room, and do your meetings and calls there, but it’s best to stay away from the office entirely. Offices are like beehives; you get stung by detail-work. Offices do not generate money. They provide an identity that you have an office, or that you have status, but these don’t matter when it comes to increasing performance and generating results. Make a decision to get rid of your office; you shouldn’t have one.
- If you’re uncomfortable saying no to others and cutting off interruptions at the start, review your schedule with them, so they’re clear on your in and out time frames. Schedule staff meetings so that you censure any ad-hoc conversations, and punt them until the meeting is scheduled.
- Almost everyone can do impact work for at least some part of the day or week. Some of us may have to arrive earlier or stay later when there is no one else around. Others may have to take more drastic measures like making themselves scarce in an alternative location, or directly telling co-workers, “I’m trying something different, and I’m not going to be available from 10-11 am.
- Get a good night’s sleep between these days. Try 6 hours, 7, 8. Vary it to find your sweet spot. If you’re up worried or over-thinking, take one hour before bedtime for intentional silence, meditation, and reading or journaling. No tv! Make a choice on the hour to go to bed, the hours you intend to sleep and the hour you intend to wake up, to give your brain good instructions that are clear enough to follow. Remember that a good night’s sleep is better to resolve the problems of tomorrow instead of lying awake worrying about them, which does nothing other than raising your heart rate.
- During the day take breaks every 2 hours for 30 minutes. Balancing intensity with renewal is essential for endurance and keeping your attention control at the highest levels.
Did you like this article?
Subscribe to get our latest content by email.