Dude, Where’s My Time? : Under30CEO Dude, Where’s My Time? : Under30CEO
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Dude, Where’s My Time?

| February 9, 2010 | 12 Comments

“Don’t count every hour in the day, make every hour in the day count.”

Time – it’s one of the most precious things a young CEO has and yet we often use it so carelessly. Between family, friends, social outings, seminars, and running a successful business, there are a lot of demands on our time. Take a moment to consider how you spend your time – are you using it wisely or are you spending time on busy work that isn’t truly productive? In some instances, you’ll find yourself spending your time – watching television, socializing, and oversleeping. Other times, you’ll find yourself investing your time – reading books on personal development, networking with other successful people, and working on your business.

Time management is an important skill necessary to succeed, and as you excel and evolve as an entrepreneur, time becomes your worst enemy or your best ally. As adults, we assume that we know how to budget our time and often become indignant at the suggestion that we could improve. However, as with many things in our lives, we can always go from good to great. Think about how your life would change if you had 2 additional hours in every day to spend as you pleased. What would you do with that time? What if I told you that you could get that time?

Oftentimes, we are misusing and misappropriating time without realizing it. I’ve always considered myself a “productive” person, but several years ago, I came to the realization that e-mail is a huge time sap for me. In light of this discovery, I decided to limit my e-mail usage to three times per day: first thing in the morning, mid-afternoon, and just before bed. There are few e-mails that I receive that are so urgent that they cannot wait. What is your time sap? Is it the phone? Do you look up after a phone call and wonder where the time went? Is it video games? Maybe your time sap is social networking, long lunches, or poor meeting planning. Whatever it is, eliminate it and take control of your time. Suddenly, you’ll observe that the day is more forgiving to the countless things you want to get done.

Remember that you can’t manage time – it’s an elusive object that is constantly slipping into the past. You can only manage yourself. Use the tips below to maximize your productivity and create more leverage in your day:

  • Map out your day on paper before you do anything. Brian Tracy, the personal development and business expert, advises never starting your day before you’ve written a list of things to do. Planning the day’s activities is a great way to improve efficiency. Time is often wasted figuring out which activity to do next. Setting an intention for the day is a powerful way to get clear on your purpose and be sure that your activities are productive, not just busy. Plan 70% of your day then leave 20% for unanticipated developments and 10% for a buffer.
  • Make lists. Lists are a productive person’s friend. Think about the amount of energy you spend trying to remember a grocery list or trying to remember the things you need to take care of before you leave your home or office on any given day. A list frees up your mental hard drive space to be used on something more profound. Use lists as miniature assistants that keep you on track and remind you of the details.
  • Budget your appointment time. Networking is important for any young CEO building a great company. We need to create and maintain relationships with people. However, as you begin to assess how you’re spending your time, consider the return on the investment of spending time with certain people. In his book, The Slight Edge, Jeff Olson noted that there are people you should spend 2 minutes with and others you should spend 2 hours with. As with activities, there’s a difference between spending time with a person and investing time with a person. Know the difference and make choices that are consistent with your stated goals. The key is to know who is who. Be honest with yourself about whether you are growing, flourishing, and expanding in the presence of those you spend your time with, and make adjustments accordingly.
  • Get organized. Are you spending hours and hours trying to find things? Organization is essential to moving quickly from task to task. Clear the clutter from your home, car, and office, and not only will be thinking more clearly, you’ll observe that it’s easier to find things. Form the habit of putting things in their proper place once you’re doing using them.
  • Do it, delegate it, or dump it. Most of us have what I call backlog – papers, emails, calls, appointments, projects, and ideas that we haven’t gotten around to. Our intentions are the best, but we’ve yet to make those things a priority. Instead of putting things off, consider each task and what should really be done about it. Either do it right away, pass it off to a helper or partner, or get rid of it altogether. Using this method will free up much of your time and energy. Do what needs to be done to relieve yourself of any obligations that are no longer important to you or are not moving you in the direction of your goals.

Freeing up time in your schedule means more time to grow your business, develop yourself and your team, serve others, and do the things you love. Remember that your time is a gift. Unlike money, once we spend our time, we can’t get it back so always spend wisely.

Lisa Nicole Bell is an author, award winning filmmaker, and entrepreneur. Learn more about her at www.inspirationicon.com

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Category: Startup Advice

  • http://www.theskooloflife.com/ Srinivas Rao

    I've found that one simple question has made me a much better manager of time. “Is the activity I'm working on the highest value activity I could be working on right now.” I also place time limits on most things. I use a stopwatch to see how much time I spend writing blog posts and how much time I spend commenting. Great ideas :)

  • http://twitter.com/ClintonSkakun Clinton Skakun

    Awesome point Lisa!

    I think mapping out my day before I go to bed has worked wonders. At least it did in school when I was barely getting by, most of this time management helped then as well.

    Tom Hopkins says he uses the 10 second rule to getting organized. If there's a paper on his desk he has 10 seconds to decide whether it's garbage or something to file away.

    Clinton Skaun

  • mtio

    Great reminder – definitely going on my computer, tv, xbox, etc… Are you “spending” time or “investing” time?

    Another easy task for staying on track: Write down, before you go to bed or leave the office, 3-5 things you need to accomplish the next day. When you start up in the morning, there's no “get going” time wasted. You know what you need to do and can dive in right away.

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  • nicolecrimaldi

    The point I resonated with the most from your list is “budget your appointment time.”

    Ever since I incorporated my business over 2 years ago, I have struggled with wasting time on wannabe entrepreneurs and information leaches-neither of which do anything except for suck your time dry. I have wasted SO much time on meeting people for coffee/drinks for no reason.

    If there isn't a quid pro quo situation, I don't take meetings anymore- I just can't while working full time and starting a business at the same time. This is the one thing I'd tell new entrepreneurs to be careful about.

  • Tony Ruiz

    I found the best time to make a to do list, which i like to call “action list” is before I go to bed. I write it on a sticky note and post it on my computer screen. The next morning I wake up I make sure I get those tasks done. Works wonders.

  • http://Under30CEO.com Jared O'Toole

    I think thats a great point about high value activities. There is only so much time in the day and you should be focusing on the things that will give you the greatest return!

  • http://Under30CEO.com Jared O'Toole

    great point. Sometimes you just cant cater to everyone. Make sure when you are going out of your way its for a reason.

  • http://Under30CEO.com Jared O'Toole

    I think a big takeaway from everything above is making that to-do list before you go to bed. This way you are ready to go in the morning and don't waste anytime figuring out what needs to be done.

    I definitely use this method. Most nights I will throw a few things up on my whiteboard to make sure they are done the next day.

  • amylynnkeimach

    I write an action list before I go to bed every night of the things that need to be accomplished. I add to the same list for the week. Generally by Tuesday the sheet is full and I have to try and get as much of it done as possible.

    I really like your last point about “do it, delegate it, or dump it.” This is something that I need to think about when I look at my list. I'm sure there are plenty of things that someone else could do and several things that aren't worth anyone's time. I'm going to try and do that for this week and I'm sure my productivity will increase.

  • AmyLynn

    I write an action list before I go to bed every night of the things that need to be accomplished. I add to the same list for the week. Generally by Tuesday the sheet is full and I have to try and get as much of it done as possible.

    I really like your last point about “do it, delegate it, or dump it.” This is something that I need to think about when I look at my list. I'm sure there are plenty of things that someone else could do and several things that aren't worth anyone's time. I'm going to try and do that for this week and I'm sure my productivity will increase.

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