When it is time to actually get something really, really important done…What do you, well, DO?
For too many years (or even decades) you and I had been able to blame “something else” on our inability to get the right done work, the high-priority stuff finished. Although it’s a small question, When Guy C. asked, I knew it deserved an answer. (By the way, a while back I invited the Get Momentum community to ask me a couple of questions. Here was the response!) Here’s the question he asked, “How do I stay in control of my time?”
This is possibly the most important ‘workflow management’ question you can ask. There are many reasons I believe this is true; most of which is this, “I don’t believe you can.”
If you start at the beginning – your beginning – you’re going to find that it isn’t the minutes of the day, the weeks of the month, or the decades of a life that you manage. It really isn’t. So, by now you’re wondering:
“What is it that I manage, then?”
Have you made a commitment to improve your performance and reduce the amount of “time” you waste along the way?
Look, there will be NO surprise to you if I were to bring something to the table that you’ve already heard before, over and over again, from other “time management” thought leaders. Personally, I’ve stopped thinking about managing minutes; instead, I look at managing myself. You’ve tried delegating. You’ve worked on time blocking. You’ve probably even set up a separate work space/think space, hoping that if you were in another environment you’d be able to get more done, in less time. But, did you know that no matter where you were, your habits were right there with you? It’s those HABITS that are getting in the way; not the minutes of the day.
Now, all that being said, I did dedicate an entire chapter of the book – Chapter 3 – to the topic (the “natural resource”) called time. What I know for sure is that you know what you could do to improve your productivity. Combining what you already know with activities and exercises you can implement immediately will result in more success. Learn to manage yourself, and you’re going to get more time than ever to “dive back in” to the pool of productivity!
If all you want out of your workflow management system is a bit of control (time- or project-management sheets filled out and held in a personal planner), then your approach should be entirely different from someone who wants to reach the top.
Over the years of coaching people at the top – in corporate settings, athletics, military, education, healthcare and more – I’ve found that the most DEDICATED performers continue to do what it takes to get to their next level. They are healthy, and not just in the “bodily” sense of the word, but in an overall approach to what it is they are put here to do…At least for now.
These kind of people seek out information, coaching and experiences to get better, stronger or faster at their own game. When they see something that might work, they try it, test it, and prove it – one way or another.
My own engagement with ‘workflow management’ activities (filing papers in a system that works EVERY time, improving my typing speed, attending public-speaking courses, etc.) decided it was up to me to be more in control of my time, my energy and my focus; I wanted to be less reactive in my work and life.
It is important to realize that excellence demands complete dedication: If you want to be a top producer, then training and development must be the most important thing in your life.
If your hobbies or family are more important than your work, then you will balance your time and energy to achieve more personal excellence with these other responsibilities. Although you can get almost anything done, you can not engage with it all, all the time.
What is the inherent challenge to personal productivity?
I believe it’s “stick-withit-ness.”
Of course, that’s not a word, but the meaning is clear. It is a master skill to stay focused and inspired on one thing long enough to engage productively. In a work-related situation – a meeting, a report, or a phone conversation – the ability to completely focus on that work is paramount to personal success. Just ask an athlete and they will tell you: focusing on running while running is the most effective way to train.
The most time-efficient training is experiential. As a teacher and executive coach, I often implement ‘productivity tools’ while I train as an age-group triathlete. I know that I will learn something more completely when I practice.
One of the ways I reduce the amount of distraction while I run, for example is to do a mind-dump before exercise. I write down anything I have to think about AFTER the run. This clears my mind, makes me a more efficient runner, and allows me to focus on what I’m doing instead of thinking of what I have to do.
Once you have decided how committed you are, it’s easier to adjust your training, planning and expectations appropriately. Look around your workspace right now, and answer this question: What do you need to change or implement to make that space a more effective work station? Intuitively, there will be one or two decisions you can make to improve your workplace productivity. Go with those, and see what happens.