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The Real Reason Your Time Management Sucks

leadership time management Feb 11, 2018

If you are not driving a car or have a chef knife in your hand at this very moment, then do this: look at either your watch or a clock near you. Notice the time. Now, stop time. You can't. See that is the thing about time, it never stops.

The key to understanding time management is that you don't manage time, you manage attention. You probably hear this statement quote often: Time is money.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, however, it's not. Money is money. You can always make more money. You can't create more time. Your attention is the real currency. What you focus on is where your energy goes. Energy and attention is the how the most successful people in the world get stuff done. We all have the same number of hours each day. The difference between those that get want they want in their life and their business is how they use their 24.

Secret of an Italian Economist

Vilfredo Pareto was a man that recognized a very unusual pattern in his garden. 80% of the peas were produced by just 20% of the pea pods. It made him wonder if that strange unbalance was just in his garden and his research showed it was not contained to just green beans. He uncovered that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by just 20% of the population. Thus the Pareto Principle was born. Known also as the 80:20 Rule it states that roughly 80% of your results come from only 20% of your activities. That is easy. The hard part is discovering what is your 20%?

What activities can you delegate to others that actually might be better than you are at doing them? Don't let foolish pride get the way. If a task is not something that you are really amazing at, then you might be better having someone else on your team tackle it. Always play to your strengths. Yes, you can struggle through that excel spreadsheet to prove something, but why? Better to focus on what your 20% is and maximize your results. Remember time is ticking. So invest your time into activities and priorities that get you and your brand the best return.

Time Tricks

The human mind is a fascinating creation. For only weighing roughly three pounds it uses the around 330 calories a day. It also consumes about 20% of the oxygen you take in. The human brain also has some unique wiring or short cuts called heuristics. These are mental short cuts we have developed to help us make decisions faster and thus survive the millions of years of human evolution. They were created to make sure we survived. They also can hurt us when it come to time. 

Cognitive biases are ways our brain make sense of all the information that bombards our senses. Think about all the information that you have to take in at any moment: all the visual stimuli, every little sound, the physical space around's a lot. Here are a couple tricks to getting a better grip on time. 

Parkinson's Law - work expands or contracts to meet obligations. If you are given a week to work on a project, most people won't feel the pressure to really do anything until a few days before it's due (if you have you ever crammed for an exam, then you have experienced this first hand). The best way is to set tighter deadline for yourself and commit to keeping the deadline. Be tough on yourself and exercise those willpower muscles. That might mean saying no to that hour or two of TV you like to zone out to at night. Maybe not chatting with people at work for long periods on time discussing what you think might happen on Game of Thrones. Discipline is the key to getting the distraction monkey off your back. Saying "no" is sometimes more powerful than saying yes to things.

This can also work wonders for getting your team to control time better. If it's Monday and you want a project done on Friday, ask for it by Wednesday. In the kitchen, when you give a cook a prep list make sure to put a time deadline with it for it's completion. There are some cooks that if you give them 12 items to prep and 8 hours, they will use all 8. Give them 12 items and make it clear that they have only 6 hours to get it all done and you see that many can pick the pace up under the time pressure.

Schedule It!

If you looked at your calendar right now, chances are it is 90% filled with appointments, meetings, or phones calls that are from other people. The demands of others is killing your ability to get control of your life.

You either control time or it controls you.

Getting control of your calendar is paramount to learning to control your attention. Yes, there are things that will come at you from others that will require your focus. The key is making sure you schedule time for things that are important to you. Things that move you closer to your goals.

How about working out. Do you? Most people in this industry love to throw out the excuse that they don't have time. It's true. You don't own time. You make time and schedule time for things that are important to you. If working out and keeping healthy is not important to you, it will only happen when you find the "opportunity". You have a better chance of hitting the Powerball lottery numbers 4 times in a row if you are waiting until the opportunity presents itself. Taking control of time and your life requires you to step up and own the things that you have total control over: your calendar and your attention (which means taking conscious action).

Want to get to the gym? Schedule it. Want to get the schedules done on time? Schedule time to work on it. Want to read more? Put that down on your calendar!

You calendar is really a reflection of the quality of your life. If you have a lot of white space on there, chances are you have a life driven by the demands of other or doing things that seem like you're busy on the surface. Yeah, you worked a 12-hour shift, but what did you really get done? You might say something like this: "Well, there was this thing that popped up and then I had to go to the store because someone forgot to order limes."

Stop lying to yourself. Stop coming up with excuses why you are not getting the things done that can have an impact on not only your restaurant, but your life too! 

You are not rewarded in business or life for being busy. You are rewarded for the results you get. If you want to make more, do more, and become more, then stop fighting against time. That is a battle you will never win. The only thing you control is your focus in this moment.

What are you going to do with that information? Keep fooling yourself and stay in denial or are you going to take control on the one thing you truly can control? That is what you do in this moment!


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