Most of my days can be pretty crazy. I typically have about 20 hours of work to be completed in about 8 hours. The difficult part is determining what to focus on. I admittedly suffer from some type of attention deficit disorder because I have found myself literally talking on the phone, checking an e-mail, and looking at a tweet all at the same time. Heck, I just started looking out the window while I was typing this.
Some may call that multi-tasking and I used to be proud of this fact, but the reality is that multi-tasking only proves that I am not fully focused on the task at hand. I am not giving something or more importantly someone my full attention.
I have found myself starting an important task only to be distracted by a phone call or something else and completely forget what I was originally doing when I get off the phone. I have read many books discussing the difference between important and urgent, yet still often make unimportant things urgent.
How can this be fixed? I am not going to say it will be easy, but I have made three goals to help combat this problem and become more efficient in my time management. It’s only three, but it’s a start.
1. Plan for tomorrow today.
At the end of each day before I come home my goal is to review tomorrow’s calendar and list my five most important tasks that must be done. Depending on what is planned for that day, fewer tasks may be reasonable. The point is that I will have it written down and those tasks will be my priority over everything else. Someday I walk into my office and shrug my shoulders and say, “where do I begin?” By having written tasks listed by importance already planned out, this feeling being overwhelmed should be reduced.
2. When starting an important task, finish it.
Now that I have my tasks planned and in writing I have to stick to them. Sounds easy right? Not for me. Although there may be some interruptions that will occur when I am completing a task, the focus must be kept on that task until its completion. No excuses, period.
3. Don’t make promises that can’t be kept.
One of the problems I often cripple myself with is trying to over-serve. What sometimes seems like going above and beyond for my prospects or clients is actually creating a false expectations. Don’t get me wrong, my number one goal is always to go provide the best experience for my prospects and clients as possible, but there are good and bad ways to accomplish this. If I say I can have it done by tomorrow, but that is not realistic or by accomplishing it I have alienated more important tasks and clients, I am not fully serving everyone. You have heard the term, “under promise, over deliver.” My new saying is not quite as catchy, but it is, “deliver extraordinarily on realistic promises.” People want quality service and part of quality service is honesty.
At the end of the day, I want to be proactive and not reactive. This is the best way to provide the best level of service to my clients while also keeping my sanity. Wish me luck.
How do you best manage your time? What works for you? I would love to hear your suggestions.