Last week Monday, I did say that there is one more very significant step that provides the bridge between defining the problem and finding the solution. In other words, a problem you cannot define will be almost impossible to get solved. To solving a problem, you need to first define it. Each time you are faced with a problem, the next thing isn’t to start worrying yourself. Worry does not solve problems. Do not forget this as long as you live.
Taking this crucial leadership issue further, I want to teach you on how to straightforwardly and effectively manage your time. It is impossible to lead at your best if you do not know how to effectively manage your time. Listen, the productive use of time is ultimately a personal judgment; by your actions through the day, week and year. The question is: do you achieve the life that you want for yourself, family and business? If so, then your handling of time is basically sound. But if you constantly swing between periods of frantic and often useless activity and periods of inertia and procrastination, perhaps you should re-think you use of time—both in your daily life and in terms of your long-range ambitions. Before you can begin to organize your household and business systems effectively, you must learn how to use your time more efficiently and to your best advantage.
Going forward, how can you effectively plan each day of your life? There are three items essential to any effectively daily time plan: a day-by-day appointment calendar; a pocket-size, spiral-bound or loose-leaf notebook in which to jot down errands and other tasks as they occur to you; and a daily TO DO LIST, which puts the system in motion. Each morning or evening, list ten things to do that day, compiled for the most part from items in the notebook, “follow-ups” in the calendar, plus one or two items from your “TO DO” file folder that require special attention. Rank each item on the list in the terms of its importance. Rather than a straight 1-to-10 listing, I recommend marking each item #1 for high priority, #2 for medium urgency, and #3 for least urgent. The few minutes you spend each day making a TO DO LIST will repay their value many times over.
In the “I Hate to Housekeep Book,” Peg Bracken offers an entertaining suggestion: play Time-Planner’s Russian Roulette. On individual slip of paper, list some of the unpleasant jobs you have been putting off—“recognize the first five file folders in the cabinet,” “bring address book up to date,” “reorganize the medicine cabinet,” and, to make the game sporting, include some pleasurable activities—“go home early,” “read a novel for an hour,” “go bike riding,”—in a three-to-one ration of pain to pleasure. Put the slips in an empty can, and on an off-day, draw one. Even if you draw a grim job, gambler’s honor will get you started and there’s always hope for the next time.
As a general rule, however, the TO DO LIST is the axis around which your day revolves. First, decide which chores might be more profitably delegated to other people—family members, colleagues, followers and team members. Then, to make your TO DO LIST work for you, schedule the remaining tasks in terms of the practical factor, the biological factor, and the deadline factor.
Tasks such as report writing that require concentration should obviously be schedule for hours when peace and quietness are available. Time of day and weather may also be factors. Ironing might be scheduled for the early morning, before the heat of the day. For the same reason, early morning may be the only comfortable time you have for gardening. Certain tasks require special equipment only available between certain hours; for example, there is often a backup on computer time. Go ahead and mark on your calendar—the TO DO TASKS that can only be performed at specific hours!
Also, the concept of biological rhythm—the tendency, in its common definition, to be a “morning person” or a “night person”—is a fascinating and still relatively unexplored aspect of human experience. Every individual, during the course of a day, goes through a regular cycle of energy and activity. Most people operate on “high” the first few hours of the morning while being on “low” in the afternoon. They experience another “high” in early evening and go “low” again around either ten or eleven at night.
Kindly understand that there are “night people” who have trouble adjusting to the nine-to-five world. They generally start with morning torpor, perk up around noon and through the late afternoon, and decline after dinner until about ten or eleven, when energy rises again, making it hard to go to bed at a reasonable hour.
Whatever type you are, you may find that your efficiency increases strikingly if you arrange your tasks as much as possible around your own rhythms. A professional tennis player, for example, could not master a tricky new stroke although he practiced it every afternoon at three. One evening, the player saw a TV documentary about bio-rhythm and decided to reschedule his practice session to his “higher” hour of 9:00am. He mastered the new stroke on the second day and, as in all good tales, went on to win the tournament. He noted, “It was a strange sensation. At the 3pm practices, my body felt clumsy, and my judgment and depth perception seemed off. But the first day we started working at 9am, I had a sense of confidence, and the second day, I made it.”
Take advantage of your own tempo similarly. You can check your own biorhythm by briskly exercising for five minutes in the morning and again in late afternoon. If you feel exhausted in the morning and invigorated in the afternoon, you may be a night person; if it’s the other way round, you are probably a morning person. Check your mental faculties as well. Work half of a challenging cross-word puzzle in the morning and try the other half in the afternoon. Can you detect a difference in acuity? When you know your individual pattern, draw up a rough plan and note your highs and lows. Applying these principles to your life, family, business and leadership will certainly help you to be more productive in every area of your life. Till I come your way again next Monday, see you where organised leaders are found!