Time is the great equalizer. Every person alive has the same 24 hours in each day. Time cannot be created or destroyed. Giving our time to someone or something means that we are “present” with that person or thing; time equals presence. However, this alone doesn’t guarantee success.
Energy, unlike time, is not equal among everyone. We can increase or diminish our level of energy. Energy equals action. When we pair energy with time, we get things done (time x energy = efficiency). However, this alone doesn’t guarantee success.
Focus describes our ability to concentrate on a specific goal or purpose. Focus is concentrated attention. Many time-management tools miss the mark because they neglect focus. Without focus, you may be moving quickly but going in the wrong direction. Time x energy x focus = effectiveness.
START WITH WHY
While it may be tempting to dive into a discussion on time management, let’s begin with the end in mind and start with focus.
THREE STEPS TO IMPROVE FOCUS:
- What is your long-term goal/purpose? If you don’t have one already, create your long-term “plan.”
- Set quarterly goals. As you think about your long-term plan, ask yourself what can be done now to advance toward your long-term goals. These actions make great quarterly goals, which then can be broken down into weekly and daily tasks. Charles Schwab, once the richest man in the United States, stated that starting each day with three priorities, and working on them to completion, was the secret to his success.
- Remove distractions. Once you know what must be done, remove distractions that would interfere. With the average American spending 4.7 hours per day in front of a screen for entertainment purposes, it’s easy to see why so few are effective. The good news is that you can distinguish yourself as a productivity master if you can remove distractions. My secret weapons for this are prayer, meditation and social media fasts.
THREE STEPS TO IMPROVE ENERGY:
While improving your focus involves disciplining your mind, increasing your energy requires some physical discipline.
4. Sleep for seven hours or more: This is a foundational habit, or a practice that makes other habits easier to follow. If you go to bed at a reasonable time and sleep for at least seven hours, you’ll wake up earlier. In his book, “Miracle Morning,” Hal Elrod found this habit to be the most common among the world’s top performers.
5. Diet: A mentor once said, “You can put 87 octane in a race car, but you won’t win many races.” The same is true for humans. You may be able to survive for a while with a poor diet, but you won’t perform at your highest level.
6. Exercise. A study among high-school students found that they scored 15 percent better on tests simply by standing up. Standing increases blood flow to the body and brain. Imagine the increased energy and creativity you can create if you exercise.
PRO TIP: When trying to adjust your daily routine, you’ll typically experience three phases:
The first stage, excitement, is fun because you’re starting something new. The final state of “habit” is easy because your brain puts the activity on autopilot. The dip in the middle is the most difficult part. Push through the “discipline” phase to be rewarded with a long-term habit. Many experts agree that the process of creating a habit takes about 30 days.
THREE STEPS TO IMPROVE YOUR TIME
7. Delegate: While it’s true that time cannot be created, delegation done well is the next best thing. Delegating is one of the most powerful, yet most misunderstood, tools available to a manager.
8. Meetings: Let’s face it, most leaders wouldn’t consider meetings to be an effective time management tool. However, this is because many leaders are still having ineffective meetings. Run your meetings well, and you will have more time.
9. Just say “no”: This may be the most powerful time-management tool ever. Scrutinize your tasks and commitments. How many are helping you achieve your long-term goals? Learn to say “NO!”
Ryan Giles is a CEO, professional EOS implementer, coach and author. Reach him at Ryan@RyanGiles.com