You can make more money on the next contract or role, you can do a better job on the next project, you can have better luck with the next relationship, but your one irreplaceable resource is time. So give it the respect it deserves and be strategic about what you want to accomplish with your time.
- It doesn’t always have to be about business or professional goals, but decide whether what you’re doing is for a business or professional result and allocate the appropriate amount of time to generate the results which you want or which are required of you.
- Start by asking why you want to do something, what you want/need to do to make it happen, then figure how you are going to do it and who you need to connect with to make it happen.
- Develop and nurture relationships that will support your goals. Avoid relationships which are time-sinks and energy-sucks. (With that said, you may have personal commitments to friends or family which are not ‘productive’ uses of your time, but they are commitments that should be honored, but be realistic about what you can do with the time spent with them.)
- Plan follow-up conversations proactively, preferably by the end of the meeting. Have clear assignments, homework and expectations for next steps and postpone a meeting if these things aren’t yet accomplished, to save everyone time.
- Be reliably and predictably on-time, to show that you respect other people’s time.
- Look for patterns of occurrences and behaviors which have made you rushed for time and figure out what you can change to increase the odds that you will reliably show up on-time and well prepared.
- Be honest with yourself on how well you’ve managed your time. Then tweak the plan so that your more efficiently use your time, and that of your client, partner, prospect, colleague, etc.
- Examine what happens if your professional goals are leading to more of a social outcome. Was it the right goal, the right contact? Did you do your homework beforehand? Did you manage expectations and conversation?
- Carefully manage relationships where your friends or your family are your clients and partners too. Know when you’re focusing on professional goals and when you’re just being social.
- Above all, take time for yourself, so that you’re fresh, energized and grounded and can appreciate the little things and see the bigger picture.
What are YOUR best practices for time management?