As we begin our look at time management, it only makes sense to start with the end in mind. Why is that important? Simply put – if you do not have a clear vision or goals in life or in business – then time management really becomes pointless.
Developing the right mindset and proper attitude sets the stage for creating effective time management habits and disciplines. Many of us feel chaos in our lives because we have not established the fundamental disciplines of time management. Some feel they are “cursed” with poor time management habits and have decided it’s a hopeless quest to change them. You have to first believe your situation can change and that you have the power to overcome your ingrained habits. Once you have a firm desire and make the conscious decision to get control of your time, you will then be open and prepared to learn and embrace the key disciplines and tools of effective time management. Time management, like any learned habit, typically will take at least three weeks to develop and then many months and years to refine until you master the discipline.
Another necessary element to develop effective time management is Vision. I know many people (and I’m sure you do as well) that waste so much precious time because they have little sense of purpose and vision. Therefore, they are content to live life, day to day, taking what comes and missing the possibilities that exist. Clarity is the most important concept when it comes to vision and personal productivity. The key reason why some people achieve more in a day than others (all things being equal) is due to the fact that they have complete clarity on their goals and objectives and don’t deviate from them. The discipline of clarity prevents procrastination and provides the focus and motivation that propels individuals to reach their dreams.
Let’s define vision. Vision can be described as your ideal state (for your life, business, career, etc.) in 10, 20, 30 years and beyond. You should be able to picture this vision with absolute clarity and describe it with precise detail. The more clarity you have with your vision, the more motivation you will have in your life.
Having this clear vision will help you determine what you must do today in order to achieve what you want tomorrow. Once you have established a clear vision, it’s now imperative to develop the goals that will help you achieve that vision. While vision is the destination, goals are the short and long-term milestones along the path that get you closer and closer to achieving your ultimate vision.
Much has been written and said about goal setting, but here is a simple and effective process for setting goals:
1. Decide exactly what you want. Be specific and write it down on paper. The very act of writing down a goal significantly increases the likelihood that you will achieve it.
2. Make your goals measurable. Your goals should have clear metrics for their achievement. For example, a goal to “become the best salesperson” is a nice goal, but how do you measure “best”? To make this goal measurable, it could be restated in the following way, “I will achieve £1,000,000 in gross sales revenue, helping me reach the top sales position in the company.”
3. Set a deadline for your goals. This will help you overcome the human tendency to procrastinate and will exert some pressure for you to stay on task.
4. Make a list. Write down everything you must do to achieve each goal, including any activities, strategies, decisions, milestones, etc.
5. Finally, develop an action plan from the list of activities and immediately take action on your plan. Resolve to do something every day to get you closer to your goals. Clearly written goals will have a powerful effect on your thinking and will motivate you into action.
They act as the “guiding lights” to keep you on task, using your time in the most efficient manner possible.