This blog post is all about your personal relationship with time. It’s not time management. You can’t manage time. Time is a theory. You can’t manage it. You can only manage what you do with it and that’s what we’re going to talk about.
Basically, we all get 4000 weeks, right? Eighty years times 50 weeks equals 4000 weeks.
You spend the first thousand learning how to use the rest of it.
The second thousand, enjoying it and having fun.
The third thousand, building wealth.
And the last thousand, retired; living off the work of the first 3000.
So your relationship with time depends on where you stand in that usage of time that you have. If you’re 56 like me, you’re thinking about the next thousand and you working on wealth creation thousand and most people in business are about my age and that’s what I expect. If you are younger than that, fantastic. Start planning for the next 2000. If you’re older than that, don’t worry about it. Start today. Move forward.
Pain in Business
Pain in business has two principal forms. I call them discipline and regret. The bad news is that they’re both painful and unfortunately, you’re going to get one of them. The good news is you get to choose which one.
Well almost everyone I talk to talks about, “OK, I’m OK with that. I will take discipline.”
Unfortunately, discipline is really hard. It’s not something you do once. It’s something you do all the time and it takes a different mindset to be disciplined, disciplined about everything you do in business, disciplined about how you live your life, the tasks you do, the tasks you choose to do and maybe even the task you choose not to do are even more important because the other pain that you’re going to get if you don’t choose discipline is regret.
The pain of regret is sharp and extremely intense and it comes at the end and I have to tell you that most people end up with regret. So I want you to think like me about discipline. How do I do everything in the same way all the time in order to make the most use of the 4000 weeks that I’ve got, to make the best use of my time and make my business successful? So that’s what we’re going to do. This is your first lesson.
Two Words: Urgent And Important
Next, we’re going to talk about two words: “urgent” and “important”.
Before that, everything you need to do in business, everything you do in your business, you need to make a list. Do it for a week, maybe even two weeks. Make a list of everything you do. Don’t get down to fine detail, put right foot in front of left. Don’t do that. Think bigger picture and try and get it down to 15-minute blocks.
• What did I do in the last 15 minutes?
• What is the work that I did?
• What are the things that I did?
• Did I answer the phone?
• Did I do a sales quote?
• What did I do?
• What did I do in the last 15 minutes?
Do it every 15 minutes when you’re working right through for at least a week, maybe even two; and put them all down on a list just like this one.
Just get a complete list of everything you did. Then go back through your list and ask yourself: was it important? Did it have to be done?
One of the ways to find out if it had to be done is; don’t do it.
If it becomes urgent over time, it had to be done. It’s one of the ways to find out if you don’t know if it’s important.
So ask yourself first. Is it important? Does it have to be done at all? If the answer is yes, then ask yourself. Is it urgent? Because everything you do in business has to be either urgent or important or both.
If it’s urgent and not important, then frankly, who cares? It’s delusion. If it’s not urgent and it’s not important, it’s just a distraction so get rid of it. It’s only these two. Is it important first? And if the answer is yes, is it urgent? Then we will work on that.
So right now, you should have a list of everything that you do that is either important or urgent or both.
Not important, not urgent, distraction, don’t worry about it. Urgent, not important, get rid of it. It’s a delusion. You’re kidding yourself. So we’ve only got those two categories. If it is important and urgent, stop reading now and go and do it because it has to be done. It has to be done right now.
Everything else is important but not urgent.
You have to construct that under some sort of plan. Now I call this a default diary. So make yourself a plan for what your week or your fortnight or your month is going to look like. Now this is not an operational diary. This is not meet with John or meet with James or meet with Mary. That’s not what we’re talking about. We’re talking about meetings in this category.
So every Tuesday morning between 9:00 and 11:00, I have meetings. Every Wednesday afternoon I have clients. Every Monday, I set aside for marketing. Whatever it is that you do, break it up into categories and then start slotting into an operational diary based on your default diary where you’re going to do the important things which are not urgent and you have to schedule everything in your business.
Remember we talked about discipline and regret? It’s a discipline.
Schedule everything. Do it today for next week. Do it next week for the week after. I try to take two weeks at a time. You can do it however you like but you must have a plan. Use a default diary. That’s what makes it work.
Your Personal Relationship With Time
This is what I call the skills fun box. Basically nine squares all numbered one to nine.
Right now, you’ve got a list of all your urgent and important tasks. Hopefully we’re only working on the important ones that are not urgent. They’re on our default diary.
Then you’ve got to go through and put them all under this matrix. Where do they sit in terms of how much fun are they and how much skill? How much do you enjoy them and how much work is there for you? So is it fulfilling work? Is it stuff you’re good at and is it stuff you like to do? If the answer is no, if you hate it and it’s no fun, it’s a number one.
Everything has to fit into one of these boxes and you’re going to go through them and just put them in the numbers. Make sure everything has a number against it because then we’ve got to work out how to get rid of number ones and number twos and number threes and so forth until basically we end up only with number nines or none at all. (And none at all is OK too because remember what we’re after:a commercial, profitable business that work when you’re not there!)