Alan Lakein (famous time management guru) once said: "Time is equal to life; therefore, waste your time and waste your life, or master your time and master your life." Admittedly, there is likely no asset of greater importance than the finite availability of our time. In fact, while many say "Time is Money" it is actually more valuable than money since as Jim Rohn said: "you can get more money, but you cannot get more time." Nonetheless, time management is not taught in schools and seldom explained beyond how to compress more actions into less of it. Would all our businesses not be significantly more profitable, if only we had more time to: market, sell, purchase, produce, service and even relax?
So, what's a good Time Management tip, worthy of a short newsletter like this?
Consider your information collection points, list them and control them outside of your conscious memory. By collection point, we mean every possible source of information upon which you wish to take action.
If you are like me, when we started our careers we only had a phone and a physical in-basket on our desk. Today collection points can often number in the 30's and be overwhelming! They include: home and office mail; home, office, and cell phone voice mail; home, office, and PDA email; electronic social networks; information generated from personal discussions; notes and lists on notepads, corkboards, and on refrigerator doors.
All of this "stuff" needs to be quickly and effectively collected, sorted and dealt with, without depending on your memory for future activation. An average business owner or executive can have 150 to 200 actionable "To Do's" at any point in time! Clearly, unloading these from your conscience mind can open a whole new world of focused thinking and strategic action.
As David Allen in his classic book "Getting Things Done," and Sally McGhee in her book "Take Back Your Life" both mention, we need to reduce those collection points to a manageable number like 5 or 6 if possible so that we are able to avoid the stressful feeling of having "Open Loops". These are issues that you are thinking about that are not written down in a reliable system. How can anyone feel comfortable and in control if they have 30+ places to look for new information every day?
So start today by making a list of all the places you collect information, all of your "in boxes," you might be surprised at how many you actually have. Then reduce them as much as possible by doing things such as: combining email accounts, forwarding telephone numbers to a single voicemail box, creating a single to-do list that captures all of your next items to be accomplished, create rules and use automation to handle electronic forms of communication.
For more information on how to implement this in your life: download a copy of my white paper "Time Management in Business."
This originally appeared in my June 2011 newsletter