Time Planning is Worth Your Time

Most people don’t set out to waste their time. They want something for it. In fact, all but a few of us want every nickel we can get for our time when we’re selling it. This is as it should be. But most of us are less determined to wring all the other values from our time that are there for the taking. In other words, most of us don’t work as effectively as we could at the business of becoming more productive.

The way to change this is through time planning. Let me give you some reasons why this is so important.

  1. Time planning prevents future problems. On some level of our minds, we know about most problems before they reach us. But usually we don’t look at them until they get really severe. Why not? Because we haven’t planned our time well enough to be out ahead of events where we can see clearly. Running with the pack, we can’t see ahead, to the sides, or back. All we have time to think about is making our legs move fast enough to keep from being trampled by change. While we’re doing that, unnoticed problems are growing. All of a sudden we’re overwhelmed. Do you ever have days when there are so many thing to do that nothing gets done?
  2. Time planning banishes guilt. One of the most common reasons for feeling guilty is knowing that you’re not really working when you’re at work. Putting your time in without being productive is deeply disturbing. Almost no one is comfortable with a tiny voice inside his or her head saying, “What you do isn’t worth a mud cake. You’re a parasite, a bum. All you’re doing in this world is taking up space.”

Unless your occupation involved keeping up with a production line, you have an almost constant opportunity to choose look-busy instead of get-it-done. In a wide variety of positions in both the public and private sectors, it’s often very easy to act like you’re working when you’re not actually doing anything that’s at all productive. When this happens society loses; your employer loses’ but you lost more than anyone else does. No one can win by trading their self-image as a producer and their commitment to excellence for the privilege of wasting time.

In all these jobs, you climb out of bed and get ready in the morning just like you were going to work effectively. You go to the office just like you were going to work effectively. You sit down at your desk just like you were going to work effectively. Then you can shuffle papers, talk on the phone, and confer with other people just like you were working and producing something of value. Are you really producing as much as you possibly can? If you’re in any type of consulting or sales position, you can only produce when you’re in front of someone who can say yes to your offering. Everything else you do is preparatory to that.

This means that in all such careers, anyone sitting in the office instead of being out meeting new people isn’t working. In all people businesses, the ones who have the ability to meet more people every day are the ones who make the largest incomes. That’s how they get more productivity out of their hours.

  1. Time planning enhances your personal time. There are two types of time that you can spend with your family—enhanced time and flop time. Setting demanding goals for yourself often means that there won’t be as much time for your children and spouse as you’d like to spend with them. What will you stop spending with them: flop time or enhanced time?Let’s define our terms. Enhanced time that’s been planned with the family so that everyone gets as much pleasure and benefit from it as possible. This means that you go one-to-one with each person in your family to ask questions, and that you then act on their answers that you truly share the decisions with your loved ones about how that time will be spent. Flop time is the time you spend with your family when you’re too tired to do anything else. They know it’s flop time—oh, how they know it. You’re not doing your family of yourself any good by just flopping on them.So pull your family closer together by cutting the flop time and giving them more enhanced time instead. What most people need to make this possible is a short exercise session daily—half an hour in a lap pool, a game of racquetball, a job. Your work creates stress—what success-seeker’s doesn’t? Erase your mental tiredness and emotional exhaustion with a little physical activity every day, and then arrive home ready to enjoy some enhanced time with your family.Some people will take potshots at you when they see that you’re driving hard to achieve more than they have their sights set on. “You’re sure gone from the kids a lot. Probably don’t care how they grow up, huh?” “Oh, yes my husband could be more successful, but I want him home.”I know men who are always home by 4:30. On Friday, they’re usually home even earlier, and they don’t leave until Monday morning. Many of their wives say, “I wish he had the get-up-and-go to do something.” It’s not that these men lack goals. We all know the type some of my dear friends are firmly committed to three goals: (1) drinking a six pack every evening, (2) never missing a football game on TV, (3) getting home from work by 4:30. Since they achieve these goals regularly and that makes them happy, this is what they should do. There’s a vital point here: if you’re making yourself happy, don’t let someone else make you unhappy because your goals aren’t like their goals.
  2. Time planning creates self-discipline. It literally creates a disciplined way of living. All of us have habits that are timewasters unless we’ve worked hard to eliminate them. Every business has a few timewasters; every relationships has some timewasting aspects. Here are some common time-wasters that are gold mine of time that you can save.
    1. Television
      Television is a wonderful invention. But like Kentucky bourbon, Swiss chocolate or any other good product, TV has to be used properly. The problem today isn’t only the time wasted, it’s also the content. The average person under 17 years old spends more time in front of the TV than at any other single activity. Be careful about that. Watch what people watch in your home.
    2. Not doing it right the first time.
      The next time you have to do something over because you didn’t get it right the first time, analyze how much time went into making that job right. Include all the discussion and hassle time that was involved. Keep track and see what percentage of things you’re doing over. Then figure out how much extra time you’ll save for productive work by eliminating re-work.

Most people who analyze this realistically discover that rework is a tremendous time-waster. They find that double-checking every task and job takes very little additional time. A balance must be struck, of course. But it’s safe to say that not many Americans are in danger of carrying perfectionism to an extreme today.

  1. Not being organized
    Organize so you can run your life. Unless you’re organized, random happenings run you. You don’t run them. People who get up in the morning with no plan for the day inevitably find that their day takes over and runs them in timewasting patterns.
  2. Procrastination
    It’s easy to avoid writing down what you should do. Most people don’t want to make a plan for tomorrow because they know they wouldn’t follow it. They just aren’t that interested in doing what they know they should do. Every time they let their minds stray into thinking about what they should be doing, they feel guilty. So they close their minds to the simple, obvious methods that work. If they don’t write down what they should do, they won’t blame themselves so much for not doing it. You can play these little games with yourself if you want to, but the losses are still yours to suffer. Having and acting on a time plan instead of procrastinating answers this question positively: Are you out to succeed or aren’t you?Look in the mirror every morning and ask yourself why you aren’t the person you want to be. Stop blaming your family. Stop blaming your company. Stop blaming your friends. Stop blaming the market. Stop blaming the economy. Who does that leave?
  3. Negative thinking
    All resentments and down-talk are total time wasters. Fear, anger jealousy—they all lead you away from what’s best for you. When you’ve tuned out whether other people are pulling ahead of you and what other people might be thinking, you can concentrate on the best thing that you can do with this minute. When you’ve reached the point where that’s the main thing on your mind, you’re solidly on the road to success.

SELF-INSTRUCTIONS:

“I make time to look ahead and see what’s coming at me.”

“I feel good about myself because I always do the best thing possible with my opportunity time.”

“I use time planning to enhance the quality of my personal life.”

“I’m self-disciplined—I never let the boob tube rule my life.”

“I do it right the first time.”

“I’m organized because I plan my days and follow my plans.”

“I am responsible for who I am.”

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