“Effective executives, in my observation, do not start with their tasks. They start with their time. And they do not start out with planning. They start by finding out where their time actually goes. Then they attempt to manage their time and to cut back on unproductive demands on their time. Finally they consolidate their ‘discretionary’ time into the largest possible continuing units. This three-step process:
- recording time,
- managing time,
- consolidating time
is the foundation of executive effectiveness.
Effective executives know that time is the limiting factor. The output limits of any process are set by the scarcest resource. In the process we call ‘accomplishment,’ this is time.”
Chapter 1 tells us that effectiveness can be learned.
Chapter 2 tells us about the first thing we must learn if we want to be effective: How to manage our time.
First, note: Time is our most precious asset. You can always get more money or more resources. You can NEVER (!) get more time. It’s finite and once it’s gone, it’s gone. Therefore, if we want to increase our “accomplishment” in the broadest sense we’d be wise to optimize our use of time.
How? Three steps.
First, we need to record it. Don’t start with planning. Start with TRACKING. Bust out a piece of paper and actually track where your time goes for a week or three.
In the process, you’ll *immediately* improve your performance because we know that what we measure improves before we even deliberately try to improve it. (Recall our pedometer-wearing people who walked a mile more as a result of simply having a pedometer.)
And, you’ll also have the data you need to move to step #2 which is to optimize the use of your time. The #1 trick here? Know that THE fastest way to optimize your time is to ELIMINATE the nonessential. Once you’ve removed the obvious, complete time wasters then you need to focus on the things that you and only you can do—systematically “delegating” everything else.
Then we arrive at our third step: We need to CONSOLIDATE our time into “the largest possible continuing units.”
We need to create what Gary Keller of The ONE Thing calls “time blocks.” Recall that he also calls time blocks the #1 productivity power tool. He says: “Most people think there’s never enough time to be successful, but there is when you block it. Time blocking is a very results-oriented way of viewing and using time. It’s a way of making sure that what has to be done gets done. Alexander Graham Bell said, ‘Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus.’ Time blocking harnesses your energy and centers it on your most important work. It’s productivity’s greatest power tool.”
1 + 2 + 3 = Time Management 101 Drucker-style.
How’re you doing here? Ready to start tracking? What can you eliminate? When’s your next jumbo time block? (And, how can you install that as a regular feature in your Masterpiece Day?)
P.S. Time management is, of course, huge. But you know what’s bigger? Energy management. Your ENERGY drives the whole show. Hence, our obsession with the core fundamentals: Eat. Move. Sleep. Focus. Breathe.