The failure of General Motors, once the largest employer in the world, can provide valuable lessons to us all. Ultimately, the demise of GM boiled down to a loss of focus which spiraled into massive inefficiencies. All of us have a tendency to lose focus and become inefficient in our everyday lives if we don’t develop and adhere to basic time management strategies. Here are a few you can easily implement to reclaim part of your day:
- Get clear. Either the evening before or first thing each morning, take a moment to decide exactly what you’d like to accomplish this day. There will usually be some over-arching themes such as exercise along with a number of tasks.
- Make a list. Take a moment to ‘map’ out your day. Some items will have specific time lines such as picking up the children after day camp or lunch with a friend while others are flexible. Your daily map will place flexible priorities around your scheduled events. This planning should take no more than a couple of minutes each morning.
- Get help. Once you’ve developed your days’ action plan, take a step back to review it. First, make sure you haven’t over-stressed your day. Be sure you’ve allowed for some of what I call, “Me Time”. Just as important, ask yourself if there is anyone that you could delegate to or who could help you complete some of your tasks. If so, commit to get help.
- Swallow the frog first. We all face dreaded tasks and we tend to procrastinate completing them. They don’t go away and tend to become more difficult with time. Where possible, tackle your most dreaded task early in the day. Checking off your most difficult task early in the day will give you a sense of freedom and confidence that will make the rest of your day a breeze.
- Concentrate your efforts. As you approach each task concentrate your efforts without distractions or interruptions. Close your door, turn off cell phones, the TV, music and focus all of your attention on the task at hand for a minimum of 45 minutes. Then take a 5-minute ‘mini-exercise’ break such as a walk or stretch break…something that gives you a ‘mental’ break. You’ll return to your task with renewed energy.
- Make personal finances a priority. While money is not the most important thing in life, financial chaos creates strong negative ripple effects into other areas of your life. If you want to magnify your financial success, commit 30 minutes each day to personal finances. This could include bill paying, studying investments, managing your retirement and personal investment accounts and developing a written personal financial plan. Not doing so will cost you money. I spoke with a friend who intended to refinance her home when rates were at 4.5%. She allowed ‘life’ to get in the way and when she was finally ready to take action, rates had moved up to 5.5% and a refinance no longer made sense.
- Celebrate your success. At the end of each day, take a moment to review what you’ve accomplished this day and celebrate your success.