How to spend your time to save time
What is the most precious commodity in the world today?
Gold? Silver? Oil?
Actually, it is none of the above… the greatest and most precious commodity is TIME.
Let’s face it, each of us is losing it by the second and none of us gaining it back.
Being mindful of this and taking into account the demands of the modern day, it is ever more important to manage time effectively to enable us to ‘free up’ time in the future.
Evermore, our world and responsibilities are fast moving. In our careers and personal lives, we constantly face the challenge of combining fast pace, complexity and quality.
You could be forgiven for thinking that it makes no sense to think about goals in these dynamic times. Circumstances change so quickly that goals are no longer sustainable.
We’ve all been there, sitting together with your team to action a task which is then followed by discussions about how this should be done. Finally, a compromise is reached, and a plan is devised to be transferred into action – the picture of the big picture is neither defined nor communicated well enough and therefore nobody knows about the exact overall orientation. This causes confusion and employees lose their motivation because they cannot see the reasoning behind their tasks or activities.
A project or activity can only be successfully started with a clear, jointly agreed target agreement. This removes the ‘fog’ creates focus and prevents time from being wasted.
In order to manage time effectively, a structured approach to any task is paramount.
I have personally found the below approach most effective in optimising time management.
- What is the purpose of the final result?
- How much time do we have to complete it?
- How will the final result be measured?
- Who are we doing this for?
A simple way of plotting this out would be to put it into an ‘aims grid’
To prevent loss/wastage of time sense and purpose must be clearly defined.
Meaning and Purpose
The meaning and purpose of the goal are vital in the definition of goals. Creating clarity in these two areas contributes a substantial part to the success of the whole task.
When planning for the task, ask yourself and your team members: What are the benefits and purpose for us undertaking the exercise. Why and what benefits will the completed tasks bring.
It is useful to anchor relevance in the purpose section by means of incorporating phrases such as ‘so that’ or ‘in order to’
Eg: We are going to deliver project X because of Y, in order to achieve Z.
It is necessary to look closely at all stakeholders (who you are doing the task for?) this could be customers, employees, regulatory bodies or a family member. It is important to consider the full range of who has a vested interest in the endeavour. It is seldom that there will only be one single stakeholder or beneficiary. List each and every one.
Criteria of Success
The success criteria of any given task are, in my view, the most important. Identifying this area with a degree of thought on clarity as to how the final result is measured. This can often be the key difference between success and failure.
The criteria for success are defined by the stakeholders and provide the answers to the questions that the stakeholders should be asked. The criteria will relate to the sense and purpose of the objectives. Aspects of quality, time and resources should be considered in this question. Another way of framing success criteria could be a “Quality Check” once the goal has been achieved.
There is an interdependent relationship between all of the four fields of an aims grid. If a parameter in an aims grid changes, there will be cross-segment movements and a small change can have massive effects on either one or all of the other areas of the system. One would be well advised to constantly question whether the contents are correctly coordinated and still fit together.
Take a step back and ask yourself – does this look right… Have we considered all possible factors… is are ‘aim’ well placed.
It is important to have clarity about the goals so that they can be quickly adapted to changing requirements. This high level of clarity can only be obtained when you have precisely defined the goals and have established an overview of the individual components of each and every goal.
Clearly and completely formulated goals create clarity of thought and are/become a powerful instrument – thus saving time during the planning, execution and delivery of tasks.
- How do we know if we have been successful?
- How will we measure our success?
- Is our result fit for purpose?
- What standards did we set out to achieve?
The final result defines which result is to be achieved and the time by which it needs to be completed.
The key to this section is keeping things simple.
The two key questions are:
- What will we possess once the task is completed?
- What is it that we have delivered?
Having a concise and clearly mapped-out approach for conducting a task can remove all of the confusion and hindrances that consume valuable time. You can apply this process to virtually anything in life. A sales meeting, presentation, or an activity with a spouse or beloved family member.
Ultimately this process saves you time, time that can be better spent on other areas whether it be in your personal or professional life.
Have fun with it and enjoy your newly freed up time on the things that you value the most.