Articlesof General Interest

zw3 1Time is a constant – 60 seconds in every minute, 60 minutes in every hour, 24 hours in every day. We can’t manage time, our most precious resource; we can manage what we do with it.

Technology has both enabled us to advance in our ability to do things productively (compare how fast it is to create, edit and deliver a ‘letter’ compared with 30 years ago). Yet, paradoxically, at the same time it is hindering us. The amount of unsolicited communications we receive each day – calls, texts, emails, social media, etc, amount to serious distractions from the important tasks we have to complete.

In order to get on top of things the trick is to do less rather than more – concentrating on the things that will contribute most to achieving the results that are most important. You might have come across the Pareto effect – the 80-20 rule – 80% of the worth comes from 20% of the activity.
Stephen Covey (in the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People) uses the analogy of gravel (for the trivial tasks, distractions, interruptions, etc) and Big Rocks (for the activities that will contribute to achieving your objectives). If you Google “Big Rocks, Covey” you will find some You Tube videos of Stephen’s demonstration – if you put the gravel in a container representing your week first, you will find it impossible to fit in all the Big Rocks. Yet if you put in the rocks first and then trickle in the gravel, miraculously you find the trivia fitting around the big tasks and you have an increased ability to fit more in – naturally working smarter and more effectively in the time available.
So the starting point is to know what your priorities are and to plan these into your weekly schedule. Taking 10 minutes each day to review what you want to accomplish and to programme in time to progress things towards longer term goals can make the rest of your day much more productive.
The idea is to shift your focus to spend more time on activities such as: Creative thinking/planning Working to sort out the causes of problems Reviewing systems/procedures for greater efficiency Learning/knowledge building/personal growth Relationship building Steps towards longer term goals.
This means consciously choosing to cut down on activities which have no productive outcome (excessive TV, video games, trivial use of social media) and/or restrict these to defined times in the day.
To draw on a metaphor from another author, Brian Tracy, it also pays dividends to ‘eat a frog’ every day. A frog being a task that you’ve been procrastinating on. “If the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, you can go through the day with the satisfaction of knowing that it is probably the worst thing that is going to happen all day long.” 

Summary Top Tips:

  • Plan for tomorrow today
  • Use the time when you have the most energy for the challenging things
  • Allocate blocks of time for important tasks
  • Break things down into chunks – what’s the first thing, how long will it take?
  • Resist the temptation to clear small things Learn to say no – is that meeting needed?
  • Turn off the email and review at certain times – using blocks of time is efficient Use ‘dead time’ for tasks that don’t need too much concentration
  • Delegate
  • Review – time well spent/time wasted
ZW CoachingZoë Whitby is a business and personal development coach with a passion for helping other people to improve their personal and working lives and achieve their potential.
Best wishes
Zoë Whitby 
Director - ZW Coaching Ltd,
07919 201128
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