The One Time Management Skill that will Revolutionize Your Schedule
by Jay Donaldson
Brighton Business Review
If we only had more time! While we can't make more time we can more effectively utilize the time we
do have. One thing I have learned in life is that many people don't have a time management problem but
do have issues with prioritization. It's my belief that if we learned how to prioritize our tasks and
projects more effectively our time management skills would improve beyond measure.
What you need is a good time management strategy to tackle your issues with time. I have a few
suggestions that will help you tame your schedule. We won't be splitting tasks up into quadrants
or using any specialized time analysis software. In fact, you only have to do one thing to start
to gain control of your schedule. Actually you can do more than one thing, and you can write all
of this down, but I'm going to introduce a way of thinking that will start you down the right path.
After that you will want to develop a system for keeping track of what you plan to do and what needs
to get done. The way of thinking about time that I'm about to introduce is great for pulling you out
of a rut and putting you back on the right path to time freedom.
The first step that you need to take is to think about all of the things you have to do. What projects
are you currently working on? What tasks do you have that you must complete? Is anything overdue or
of critical importance? Once you have those tasks in your head, or written down, figure out which one
is the most important thing for you to get done. This will probably be a task that relates to your
core business. If it isn't then maybe your business isn't focusing on the right things or the right
product. Is there a task that's holding up development of a new product, or keeping production from
running, or keeping other teams from moving forward with sales or marketing? Identifying your most
important priority will help you focus your time.
Think about it. If you aren't working on the most important thing in your business you are wasting
the most precious resource that you have, your time. Nothing else will matter if you can't drive your
number one priority to completion. This doesn't mean other tasks aren't important as well, they just
aren't as important as the one you should be working on.
Lets give and example of a company that makes red widgets for the automotive industry. Red widgets are
their main product that has fueled their growth to this point. Another customer is expanding their
market and needs to find a supplier for a similar product to your wonderful red widgets, but they need
them in blue. Your company would love to become the supplier for these new blue widgets because it
would add 10 million dollars in new revenue. Currently you bring in 50 million in revenue from your
red widgets but they have had some quality problems lately and your defect rate has risen to one
percent from a half a percent. Marketing and sales is pressuring you for specifications for the new
blue widgets and as the engineering manager it's your job to come up with some estimates on how long
it will take to produce these new widgets and at what cost.
Where do you think it would be best to focus your time?
Of course it would be on fixing the problems with your red widget production line. It's your
core business and is what is sustaining your company. The specifications and plan for the new blue
widget production is also important but your time would be better focused on maintaining your core
business otherwise you won't have a business to run anymore. Thinking about your time and resources
in this way will force you to think about critical paths and which one you should be on. This is the
first step into taking control of your schedule.
This is also our first article in managing your time. Read our other articles in this series to learn
what to do after you have focused your concentration on your most important project or task. The
rest of the series will include simple tips to save you time and reduce your stress.