How Do You Manage to Manage Your Time?

Which Rolling Stones song do YOU wake up singing every morning? “Time is on my side ” OR “Time waits for no one, and it won’t wait for me.”

With apologies to Mick Jagger & Keith Richards, your answer to this question reveals your mindset about time management. It’s just like Henry Ford’s famous quote — “If you think you can, or if you think you can’t, you’re right!” Successful time management, like every other aspect of success, is first of all a mindset. Then there are some simple guidelines that, if followed consistently, will lead to you become a master of your time rather than a slave to it.

“I don’t have time!” Let’s take a look at how your mind is programmed about time.  Many people are convinced they don’t have enough time, and walk around constantly saying, “I don’t have time! I don’t have time!” to themselves, almost as their mantra. And they also talk to others about how busy and stressed out they are, as if this was some badge of honor. Yet if I were to stop and ask them, “Can you think of someone who’s more successful that you?” the response would be, “Of course!” Then I’d ask if they had the same 24 hours in a day, to which I usually get a dumbfounded look and, “Well, yeah, I guess so …” So the real issue is not having enough time, it’s how they are managing (or, in most cases, NOT managing) their time.

A simple time management formula. The truth is, most people don’t manage their time at all … they let other people and situations manage them — and that’s called “normal.”  These just happen to be the same people who don’t have a mission statement and don’t write down their goals. (Interesting coincidence, isn’t it?) So here’s a simple formula for you to begin to take control of your time:

1. Create a Mission Statement for your career. A mission statement is a paragraph that describes who you are and where you’re going. In my definition, a mission statement also describes your major goals and a deadline, typically one year out.

2. Write down your yearly goals based upon your Mission Statement in all areas of your life: mental, physical, emotional & spiritual. Mental goals relate to your career and your financial well-being. Physical goals are for the shape of your body and what you put in it. Emotional goals are for your relationships in life, both personal & professional. And spiritual goals are for the things you do to get you more in touch with your spirit, whatever that means to you.

3. Divide out your goals in these four areas. First, divide by 4 to get your quarterly goals. Then divide by 3 to get your monthly goals. Finally divide by 4 again to get your weekly goals. For example, if your mission statement goal was to make $120,000 in commissions and bonus by December 31, 2004, you would know your quarterly goal is $30,000, your monthly goal is $10,000 and your weekly goal is $2,500. As a producer, you may not be able to attain this weekly or even monthly amount. BUT — you may know that your average commission for one new client is $15,000. So you would need 8 new clients per year, 2 per quarter, one every 6 weeks. Then you would calculate how many face-to-face sales meetings it takes for you to add a new client (let’s say 12), and then you know you’d need to schedule 96 appointments per year, 32 per quarter, 8 per month and 2 per week. (This ain’t rocket science, folks …)

4. Get out your weekly planner and write in the exact time you will be engaging in these goals. From the example above, if you needed 2 face-to-face meetings you’d schedule in time for prospecting calls to get these on the books. You should view ALL the items you’ve written as APPOINTMENTS, so you don’t get off track by the various inconsequential interruptions that happen throughout the course of a day. This usually means you will have to serve notice to others, “Do Not Disturb.”

5. As a habit, review your goals and planner DAILY to insure you stay on track.

When is the best time to engage in this goal planning for time management? I share with my clients a technique I call “The most important appointment of the week.” It happens on the weekend, and it’s with YOU. So you can pick a Saturday or Sunday morning right after coffee or a workout, or perhaps Sunday evening just before the coming work week. After letting your spouse & kids know you need some “space,” you sit down and set up your weekly schedule just as described above. I suggest you enter this weekend appointment in your planner initially to get the discipline of doing your scheduling. I guarantee you’ll sleep better knowing your upcoming week is on track with your monthly, quarterly and yearly goals.

Just say NO! God Bless Nancy Reagan — she was really on to something here. This not only applies to drugs, it applies to other people in your life who want to make THEIR agenda YOUR agenda. And most of the time, most people agree that this is OK. WHY? The answer lies in what has been called “The Approval-Seeking Syndrome” — we are afraid of other people’s disapproval if we were to do what we really wanted to do, say what we really wanted to say. How does this come about? Easy — when we were little kids, we learned quickly that we wanted mommy & daddy to smile and nod at our actions, not frown and yell at us, so we became very compliant early in the game of life — we learned to become good little approval seekers. (And this is totally appropriate growing up.)  The problem is we generalize this behavior to our teachers in school, our powerful-appearing peers and then our bosses, without ever getting good at asking ourselves, “Wait a minute — what do I want in life for myself???

Bottom line Most people go through life without ever giving serious thought to this question. The ones who do are the most successful, and manage to manage their time.

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