Monthly Archives: April 2011
Ah … time management. Nothing is more debated, contemplated, written about, and considered in the world of success than time management. Tim Ferriss built an empire on it. Apps are made to achieve it. We all worry about it (maybe myself more than all others … the horror!). But like so many questions we have to distill it down: what do we mean by time management? What is the most important?
Time management, more than anything, is about concentrating energy into the highest return possible. This is why most retail businesses in the world get my sympathy … hours of waiting for the world to come by, walk in, and hopefully buy. It’s no way to live, and we are seeing a major change in the world of retail as a result. This is also why Tim Ferriss’ book (The Four Hour Workweek) was a game-changer to my world … the moment you get the guts to lop off the 80% of unproductive time in your world, the faster you can grow the 20% left over and it’s that 20% that really matters. I proved it time and time again in my life of wine sales. Two hours for a hopeful order of two cases? Are you kidding me? I focused on the nicest customers I had that would order an extra twenty cases if I put just a bit more effort in. The result? A 23% territory sales increase during the worst recession of modern times.
There is a management friend of mine that likes to tell her sales reps “Don’t leave any stone unturned.” Well I wholeheartedly disagree … The point in which you become a truly GREAT sales rep is when you realize when to leave a stone sitting there and walk away. As Bill Cosby said (paraphrased): “I don’t know what the secret to success is, but pleasing everybody is not it.”
Time management is about pattern and routine for the best reasons. The power of consistency is amazing. A slow drip of water over thousands of years can crack a boulder. A slow trickle of ideas and effort can build a very profitable business with few hours every week. A slow push of energy can get a thousand true fans. But nothing happens if you start and stop and start again and stop again. The pleasure centers of our brain enjoy a rhythm, but the logic side often gets in the way. “I’m too tired” or “I only have ten followers” or “I just don’t know why anyone would read this stuff” are excuses for avoiding why you know has to be done: the work. Dive in!
And last but not least, time management is all about being able to shut down the computer and actually interact with people (yes, face to face). If you are reading this blog I know you are already a bit more tech-savvy than most and interested in things others are not (and welcome to my world and thank you!). I also know from research that you probably spend 22.7 hours a week on your computer, are dialed into multiple sites via your phone, and have an average of 3.9 email accounts. And all of that is great! But time management is about being able to do the work that needs to get done, without distraction, so you can be with your spouse, your children, or your friends because human interaction is something that we not only crave but we need. When it’s time to shut down the computer, do so completely. Chris Guillebeau likes to take a Sabbath day from Saturday night until Sunday night. It’s a good pattern to emulate, and being Saturday night right now it’s time to close the laptop, fire up the grill, and pop a bottle of good wine. See ya!
There is a tendency, especially in America, to emulate and idolize. There are certain people we put on a pedestal, which to an extent I think is healthy especially when you’re talking about people that really walk the walk and live a life you find engaging (as opposed to people, and there are so many of them, that only talk the talk). It’s easy to look at some people and say “I want to be more like them.”
But there is another side to the coin, and I think it’s healthy to look at it. Who do you not want to be? Here are some from my personal list:
I don’t want to be the person that walks into a crowd or a party and just hovers without engaging anybody in conversation. Truth be told, this is my natural tendency, so it’s always an uphill battle for me. I have a hard time jumping into a crowd and shaking hands and asking questions. I’d rather just observe, but rarely does simply observing lead to anything great.
I don’t want to be the person that accumulates too much stuff, which will leave me immobile later in life. I’m currently in the process to paring down my life, but every time I go into the attic to try to be rid of another box of books, I end up idling away hours reading tomes I haven’t cracked in years. When I go to a flea market I have to watch out … I’m a sucker for old tools and neat wood boxes and stuff like that. My natural tendency is not to hoard by any means, but my natural tendency is to have a comfortable level of ‘stuff’. I like my stuff, but I just don’t want more stuff.
I don’t want to be the person that lies in little ways to many people all the time. I know people like this, functional adults, who drop all sorts of little lies in their path all the time. It reminds me of elementary school, when I had the tendency to do the same thing. Luckily I got caught a few times and learned my lesson, but I find it amazing how many adults continue to do this.
And lastly, I don’t want to be the person that stands still and lets life happen TO me rather than making a life FOR me. This is possibly my biggest fear. I’ve had a number of years that are ‘forgotten’ years for me, when I just rode the wave that was given to me at the time. Some of those years were in a job making more money than I’ve ever made before, and possibly because of that I stopped making my life the way I wanted it, because it was so easy to just go for the ride. Well guess what happened. The ride stopped, and I was left in shock. That shock started many things in me, and that energy is what you are reading right now.
Think about who you don’t want to be. It’s a good place to start to make some changes.