Everyone is familiar with the term Time Management but of course, I’m going to go much deeper than that and say that there are actually Nine (9) categories that you must manage to be truly effective and productive. Managing is about “handling” things, about maintaining order, about organization and control.
The first category to manage is your SPACE. Are you trying to work in a location that is not organized, laid out to support your work and your work style? Does this space have incessant interruptions? Is it noisy? Are there windows or good lighting? Is the temperature comfortable, do you have any plants? Most people’s ineffectiveness, inefficiency, poor productivity, and unsatisfactory results are rooted in being in the wrong place, in the wrong environment to do the job at hand.
The second category is managing your STUFF. That means inventory, supplies, tools, and equipment. Is it organized, easy to get to, in good working condition and in locations around the office that make sense? I can remember before I really gave this a lot of thought, I had a stapler that would jam every third time I stapled. I would get so frustrated and spend several minutes trying to get the staple out of the stapler. Once I recognized the wasted energy I was consuming, I threw the stapler away and got a new one! Life changing!
The third category is managing INFORMATION. This relates to every way you send and receive information. Emails, magazines, books, business cards, files, folders, client interactions, meetings, and on and on. Do you have good systems in place that provide you with the efficiency and effectiveness to deal with all of it (like keep it, delegate it, or trash it) as it’s coming in?
The fourth category to manage is TIME and no, running late does not count as exercise! Few people seem willing to set a price on the worth of their own time, yet everyone in business must do this, and soon. The decision as to what your time is worth is quite personal. It is influenced by many factors, including your education or attainment of skill, age, professional reputation, amount of past experience, level of confidence, and degree of boldness or nerve.
The fifth category to manage is TASKS & PRIORITIES. Every task, every project, everything you take on makes demands of your time. No matter what you say about your priorities, where you spend your money and your time will prove them out. One of the ideas Todd Henry shared in his book, The Accidental Creative is something I have been working on is the practice of whole life planning. That means one calendar and everything I am committed to doing is on that one calendar. That way I can see very easily if a new opportunity shows up whether I have the energy to say yes, or if it makes more sense to say no.
The sixth category to manage is TECHNOLOGY. Are you so plugged in that you can’t even imagine being unplugged? Do you need all those different devices, readers and apps? I like simple and uncomplicated so you have to seriously think about all of your technology and determine if it’s really helping you or causing more stress?
The seventh category to manage is PEOPLE (from the perspective of unrestricted access to you). This includes your employees, vendors, clients, family and friends whether in person, telephone, or email. Think about being reached at inopportune times, at inappropriate places, no advance notice – no time to think. Then you tend to rush through conversations, you agree to things you shouldn’t and wouldn’t if you gave the matter appropriate thought. Instant or quick is not the same as productive.
The eighth category to manage is MONEY. Business is like Monopoly. When the cash is gone the game is over. Freeing yourself from worrying comes from knowing your current cash balance and what to expect it to be in the future. A budget is one of the most powerful planning tools you have, as long as you use it well so you can make important decisions. A budget helps you stay on course, planning and allocating your resources throughout the year.
The ninth and final category to manage is MYSELF. The only accountability that really exists is whether I reach or miss my targets which is based solely on the choices I have made about how I spend my time. I know that many of us feel torn by the things we want to do, by the demands placed on us, by the many responsibilities we have. We all feel challenged by the day-to-day and moment-by-moment decisions we must make regarding the best use of our time. If you are experiencing a gap between how you’re spending your time and what you feel is deeply important in your life, the time to address it is now. I once read an old ancient proverb. It simply said, “Master yourself and you can master anything.”