Are You Managing Your Time? – Part 1

by: Kemp Evans

This is Part 1 in a two-part article.

When I think back to what my average day was like a year ago, I am astonished I could accomplish any of my daily goals. My days were filled with chaos and shooting from the hip types of planning, which created a tremendous amount of unneeded stress. I always started each day with the best of intentions. I would arrive at the dealership with a sense of what I needed to accomplish, sit down with the management team focusing on the agenda items that I had established. Somehow time would get away from us, and two hours later, I would realize extraordinarily little had been accomplished. After dealing with unforeseen situations, solving team members’ concerns, and dealing with whatever else popped up, I could hardly remember my goals for that time slot.

Time management is one of those issues we all face but (ironically) feel like we do not have the time to address. Benjamin Franklin once said time is like money. Without being appropriately managed, how do you know where it is going?

On most days, time seems to fly by; one minute, you are settling in to answer a few emails, and suddenly, it is time to leave. It is disheartening. But it does not have to be this way. Effective time management gives you back control of your day. It is the cornerstone skill that will help you with everything from increasing productivity to developing good habits, setting reasonable goals, avoiding burnout, and finding work-life balance.

When I discuss time management with my clients, I always start with the same question: How many of you have too much time on your hands? In all my years of working with retailers, no one has ever raised a hand.

That means we start every day knowing we are not going to get it all done. So, how we spend our time is a critical strategic decision. That is why it is a good idea to create a to-do list and an ignore list. The most challenging attention to focus on is our own.

Even with those lists, the challenge, as always, is execution. How can you stick to a plan when so many things threaten to derail it? How can you focus on a few essential things when so many things require your attention?

Managing our time needs to become a ritual. Not merely a list or a vague sense of our priorities that is not consistent or deliberate. It needs to be an ongoing process we follow no matter what keeps us focused on our priorities throughout the day.

Due to the sheer number of ways you can increase and optimize your time management and productivity, I have broken this guide up into a 5-step process.   Now, most importantly, take your calendar and schedule those things into time slots, placing the most challenging and most essential items at the beginning of the day. And by the beginning of the day, I mean, if possible, before even checking your email. If your entire list does not fit into your calendar, reprioritize your list. There is tremendous power in deciding when and where you are going to do something. If you want to get something done, decide when and where you are going to do it. Otherwise, take it off your list.

STEP 1: Understand Where Your Time is Going

  • Create a time audit.
  • When it comes to time management, the first step you need to take is finding out where your time goes.
    • You may believe that you only spend 30 minutes on emails, but in reality, that task is most likely eating-up an hour or more of your day.

STEP 2: Set Plan for Day

  • Build a morning routine that gives you momentum
    • Allow time for interruptions and breaks
  • Spend your mornings on MIT’s (Most Important Task)
    • Mark Twain once said, “If it is your job to eat a frog, it is best to do it first thing in the morning. And If it is your job to eat two frogs, it is best to eat the biggest one first.”
    • Gross? Sure. But the point that Twain was making was that you should take care of your most significant and most challenging tasks in the morning, aka your MITs’ of the day.
    • There are a couple of reasons why this is such a useful time management trick. For starters, you usually have the most amount of energy in the AM. It is better to tackle these tasks when energized and not drained at the end of the day. Also, you can use that feeling of accomplishment to get through the rest of the day.
  • Before turning on your computer, sit down with a blank piece of paper and decide what will make this day successful.
    • I have found that setting a time limit to each task prevents me from getting distracted or procrastinating.
  • What can you realistically accomplish that will further your goals and allow you to leave at the end of the day feeling like you have been productive and successful?
  • Write those things down.

If you are looking to improve your fixed operations, contact me at: kempevans@m5ms.com or (850)-450-3559.

Continued next week in Part 2!

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