By Ken Edmundson
So much has been written in various sales training blogs about time management that you hardly have the time to read about it. There are numerous time management programs, processes and tools, and even with all this help, you still can’t manage time no matter how hard you try.
There are 24 hours in a day, 86,400 seconds ticking away second by second as you read this. You can’t save these seconds or store them up; when they are gone, they are gone! Never to be recovered. Never to be recycled and reused, and although you can’t manage time, you can manage your activities–what you do in the time that you have–and that will be your most effective tool for getting the most out of your time. To be a really good time manager, you simply need a process to successfully manage your activities and to manage your activities, you only need to know two things:
- What to do first.
- What to do next.
Step 1: To identify what to do, take a piece of paper and create a three column daily or weekly to do list. Label one column “Must Do,” the next column “Should Do,” and the third column “Stop Do.”
Step 2: In the “Must Do” column, list all of the things that are imperative to accomplish, things that must be completed, things that are directly tied to your goals and responsibilities.
Step 3: Review the “Must Do” list; prioritize the items in terms of importance and difficulty. It is imperative to do the most difficult first.
Step 4: Next, plan carefully and assign each item an amount of time for completion.
Step 5: In the “Should Do” column, list all of the things that you would like to do because they are important, although not essential.
Step 6: In the “Stop Do” column, list those items which tend to use/kill time that are not productive. The “Stop Do” list is a daily and weekly reminder of things you should stop doing that are getting in your way. There should always be items on the “Stop Do” list.
So start with the “Must Do” list and begin with the highest priority and most difficult item, or the item you least like to do, and do it NOW! Today, without exception. When the time for that activity is up, STOP! And move on to the next activity. If you continue to work beyond the predetermined time limit, you are stealing valuable time away from the next important “Must Do” task. If that project suffers because of insufficient time, you will soon be in debt to countless hours of time that will never come. When you complete the “Must Do” items, you can move on to the “Should Do” items, but not until the “Must Do” items are complete.
As time goes on, some of the things on past “Should Do” lists will transfer to the “Must Do” list, but you will evaluate them and move them, not chance or pressure or unorganized time.
Most people have trouble getting the most out of their time because not only do they not prioritize their “Must Do” and “Should Do” lists, but they actually have too many things on their list to begin with that are neither “should do” or ‘must do”… maybe the Stop Do will be as important for you as the Must Do!
Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “Finish each day and be done with it–tomorrow is a new day!”
Ken Edmundson is the CEO of the Edmundson Northstar Institute, a Sandler Training franchise based in Memphis, Tennessee.
Illustration by Rob Green