When Napoleon would meet with his generals before a campaign, he would tell them “Let me know what you need. I can give you anything you need except time.”
I’ve been blessed to be one of the most successful real estate agents in the Dallas Metro area and for many miles around. And in the luxury home market I get to work with a lot of other successful people, too – entrepreneurs, doctors, attorneys, and others who inhabit the top of their profession. We are different in many ways, but there seems to be one thing we all have in common: We are all very good at managing our most precious and irreplaceable resource – time.
I’ve always tried to be diligent and disciplined about time management, and I’ve also learned a lot from observing and interacting with hundreds of amazingly successful clients over the years. Here are some of the great time management ideas I’ve come to believe in:
- Maximize ‘In the zone’ time. We’re not robots. We have biorhythms and sleep patterns and times when we can’t focus well on detail work. I know I am most alert and productive at certain times of the day and I schedule important tasks for these times. I schedule downtime or non-essential tasks for the times of day when I may be less focused. Conversely, I try to make the most of ‘down-time,’ as well. If I can’t focus on work, I focus on things I enjoy, and even more important things like family time.
2.) Try to make $1,000 before 10 AM every day. When I first heard that many years ago, I thought it was crazy. Who can do that? But there are people who do precisely that. Maybe not every day, and maybe their efforts don’t bear immediate fruit. Perhaps their efforts will pay off in a month, a year, or even longer. But it can be done, and some people can do it several times a week!
This is very difficult for some people to understand and wrap their minds around. And for some people, maybe the $1,000 figure is a stretch. Start where you are – $100, $250, or $500. Wherever your own career choices and skill set land you, and gradually work your way up. Even if you don’t hit your number, your vision will expand far beyond where you are now.
- Don’t ‘multi-task.’ Yes, some people claim to be able to do it. And you may not have a choice if you’re working as a short-order cook. But if you want to function at a level of excellence, you’re going to have to focus like a laser beam on your core activities. If you find yourself multi-tasking all the time, it’s probably time to delegate some things to staff or other experts. Ruthlessly eliminate time-suckers from your day. That way, they can focus on these things, and you can focus on what you do best, and on what makes you money.
- The perfect is the mortal enemy of the good enough. Yes, some things take careful planning. But don’t get sucked into paralysis by analysis. Don’t spend hours agonizing over details that will be trivial when you look back on them in a year. Once you’ve thought an issue or project through, be willing to execute, with vigor, and get it done.
- Schedule big meetings early in the day. Most people can’t focus for a few hours prior to big meetings or presentations. Push them as early in the day as you can. That maximizes high-focus time for the rest of the day. See Step 1.
- Turn off email notices. Great managers and great leaders are never tied to email. Check your email once in the morning, once at lunch and once at the end of the day, maximum. Otherwise, you get into interruptions. Nobody but idiots sends emails for emergencies. They can call you.
- Take the chairs out of meeting rooms. Most of my best meetings are stand-up meetings, anyway. People are more energized when they’re standing up – and less inclined to waste time. The exceptions, of course, are when people need to be taking careful notes during the event.
- Constantly ask yourself, “What is the most productive use of my time right now?”
- Set a deadline for every task. Anything else is just dreaming.
- Use planners/reminder apps. Anything to jog your memory and keep you grounded in the clock. If your business is going well, it will soon be too much to keep in your own head every day. I don’t care how smart you are.
Lastly and most importantly…
- Take care of yourself. It’s tempting to work yourself into a frazzle and neglect yourself. That may make it easier to get through the week, but harder to get through a life. Take the time you need to eat right, exercise, take a vacation once in a while, and nurture the important relationships in your life.