Managing Your Time

Published On:
January 13, 2021

‍On February 19th, 1992, a Wednesday, I attended a Franklin Day Planner time management course and I was issued a Franklin Day Planner, classic size. The course took place for four hours, from 8:30am to 12:30pm. I was in an office building in London. How do I remember an event so clearly, even though it took place 26 years ago? That class and the Franklin Day Planner changed my professional and personal life.

On February 18th of that year (the day before the class), I was a minor business success already. I was managing a department of approximately 100 people, and getting paid pretty well.  But, my department was out of control, I was failing to complete many of my objectives, I was single but didn’t want to be, didn’t have time for many personal ambitions (learning about religion, exploring hobbies), and wasn’t sure if I was capable of setting a path for myself or if my life would just be a series of random events.

The Franklin class changed all that for me. For the first time in my life, I had written Values, Goals, and ordered Tasks. Every day since then I have spent time thinking about what happened to me the day before and planning out the day ahead. I can’t say I always live up to my plans, but I can say that I always have one.  Within 10 months of that Franklin class, I had a new job with expanded responsibilities, an increase in pay, and was in a relationship with the woman I would marry. I also invested significant time in exploring my religion, developed a passion for photography (now a serious hobby), began reading non-fiction, fiction, and the newspaper (which, it seems to me, contains both fiction and non-fiction), got me to organize and plan out a music collection, and helped me take control of the events in my life.

Today I don’t use the paper-based Franklin any more, but still follow a system very similar to the original one that I was taught so many years ago.  A lot has changed since those years that has impacted the way we work and organize our day:

  • Widespread adoption of email;
  • Proliferation of cell phones;
  • Introduction of laptops;
  • Introduction of smart phones;
  • Introduction of tablets;
  • Introduction of the internet;
  • Introduction of online calendars;
  • Introduction of free and low-cost services via the web, smart phone and tablet that can help you get organized, set priorities, and achieve your goals.

But interestingly, I don’t see much of a difference in the number of people who leverage all these great tools to help themselves get organized, set goals for themselves, and most importantly, achieve them. I watch people show up to weekly meetings completely unprepared. When the meeting agenda takes place and each attendee is asked if the the tasks assigned the week before have been completed, an astonishingly high percentage of them respond that they have not even started their tasks. One common excuse: “There was no time.”  In fact, we can all agree that this is clearly a lie.  There were in fact 2,400 work minutes since last week’s meeting, merely assuming that everyone works an eight hour day.  Since many of the people I meet tell me they work 50 or more hours a week, they had at least 3,000 minutes available to them.  Really the only possible excuses are:

  • “I forgot that I had an assignment to complete,” or
  • “I allowed other work events to take precedence and didn’t prioritize this task.”

In the case of “I forgot,” having a personal time management process would have ensured that the task was remembered. In the case of “other work events took precedence,” a personal time management process would have made that apparent to the meeting attendee, and re-prioritization of work or alternate arrangements could have been made prior to the meeting.

Likewise, when someone who spends 3000 minutes a week at work isn’t prioritizing the work day, do you think it is likely that all the time is being well-spent? And how many of these people do you think are going to get promoted, or will be successful in receiving a significant increase in salary, hitting a sales target, learning a new skill, or having a great balance between work and the rest of life?

A successful Time Management Process must help you address all of the items in the list below:

  • ‍Establish personal Values and Goals
  • Track the way you spend your time each day
  • Establish monthly and daily Tasks based on your Goals
  • Review time spent, and its successes and failures
  • Plan out your next day’s tasks and appointments
  • Each month, review your Values and Goals again, and adjust the way you use your time, to improve the likelihood of achieving everything you are striving for.

In a future article, I will explain this time management process in greater detail. In the meantime, you can read Trevor’s article which addresses one of the points above: Tracking and Reviewing Your Time.

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