During a presentation to a group of business people last month I was asked a question about the importance of long term planning in a business. The person asking the question phrased the question to reflect his own situation where his time on a day to day basis was totally involved in the here and now - “How can I find time to think long term?” This is a great question! And the simple answer is...
There is no simple answer!
One thing to do is to acknowledge is that we do not manage time. What we manage is our use of time. If you really think it through, the distinction between the two is important. The first implies that we can manage a scarce resource and somehow manipulate the number of hours in the day.
Well, if you can find a way to put more than 24 hours into a day let me know – between the two of us, I think we can make a lot of money!
However, if we use the second definition – managing our use of time, we begin to open up a whole different set of possibilities.
Once you accept that it is your use of time that is manageable, this allows you to begin setting in place a simple principle which can really define your ability to “find time”.
You need to begin to differentiate between those things you do which are important, those that are urgent and those that are neither urgent nor important.
Once you begin to understand the difference, you can begin to ask yourself a question – “What is the most important thing I should be doing now?’
In the environment in which we work, often items arise which appear urgent or important but in reality are not. For example, if your long term goal is to develop your business and you receive an email with a great YouTube clip on it – what would be the most important thing for you could do? Watch the video or make those phone calls to develop your business?
Now as I said at the start of this article – there is no simple answer! This is because even if you do ask yourself the question, it takes discipline to do the important when the urgent continues to beckon so enticingly. Also, there are times when urgent things are important – meeting a customer’s reasonable needs for example.
It is because of this that knowing your goals/values and committing to them is important. They provide you with direction and can assist you in your use of time.
So my answer to the business person when he asked his question?
“Identify what is important to you, identify what is urgent and identify what is neither urgent or important – when you’ve done that, start working out how to ensure you have the time to achieve your goals”
As I said, not a simple answer, but a good start!
How well are you managing your time? How good is your goal setting? Why not contact us for a Complementary Coaching Session to assist you!