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This is not advice. Items herein are general comments only and do not constitute or convey advice per se. The information contained in these articles is for guidance only and should not be relied upon without obtaining professional advice having regard to your direct circumstances.


Tips on how to corner time

Time management expert, Natasha Crestani, outlines some useful ways to save time in your business day.

Most people will tell you they want to be successful. Dig deeper and you’ll find underlying need is the same – what they really want is the freedom to do what they want with their time. Whether it’s playing another 18 holes or lying on the beach.

We either have money and no spare time or when we have no money – we have lots of time! So how do we get the money, but keep the time too? That is the Holy Grail!

Picture your whole day as a giant box. I’m going to take you through each corner of your daily box.

Corner #1: Urgent and important

Where you fight your daily fires. The tasks absolutely have to get done by yesterday!

The mistake people make is assigning “Urgent Important” status to absolutely all tasks. You can’t physically do everything at once. One task must come before another. People in this corner end up with so much mental clutter, they don’t know where to start and procrastinate to escape the pressure.

Most people spend too much of their time hanging out in this corner of the box.

Corner #2: Non-urgent but important

This is where you are when you’re in planning mode. Long-term thinking and strategy building. Most marketing plans happen here. It’s where you build your products, set up joint ventures, design campaigns, target customers, and decide where your focus should be. It’s planning and preparing for long-term benefits.

This is where savvy people and successful marketers live out most of their lives. It’s also where most people do not spend their time.

Corner #3: Urgent but not important

This corner contains stuff that is urgent to someone else, but not important to you. The phone call that you must take now, but turns out to be a salesperson. Picking up the phone to receive the call was urgent but the content of the call was absolutely not important to you. Someone can require something of you, even though there’s no advantage in it for you. Their lack of planning should not be your crisis.

Surfing the internet in the name of “research” can be justified as important, but can be a great excuse to do something that is easier. A question to ask yourself is if these can be delegated. It is possible someone else could attend the meeting this time and take notes?

A lot of people spend their time here, but believe they are in corner 1.

Corner #4: Non-urgent and non-important.

This is where you waste your time, like a coffee break. Of course, arguably you need to take some breaks, so this could be considered a strategic move in corner 2. Examine what you may call “busywork”. Is it really important? Or tasks that are just easier or more enjoyable? Anything in excess belongs here. Evens breaks need boundaries and effective methods that work for you. A question to ask yourself in this corner is whether these can be dumped.

Corner 2 is where you should be spending your time. Most people don’t. Assignment associated with long-term, tactical planning. This could be building your updated website or coaching a staff member. It’s where you plan your cashflow projections, invest in research or test the effectiveness of your last marketing campaign. It doesn’t matter whether you do it now or tomorrow because it isn’t urgent, but it is important. If you’re not doing the things in this corner, you’ll never build your business.

During the day, I think, “which corner am I in right now?” Right now you and I are definitely in corner #2. Why? You’re doing something, which is not urgent, as you could do this next week, but it’s important. You’re laying down the foundations to use your future time effectively.

If you make time for tactics and strategies, you will spend most of your time in corner #2. When a real crisis does erupt, because your life and work are planned, you’ll have the time to jump into corner #1 and fight the fires.

Simply because your mind is not overrunning all the time with loads of mental clutter, you will have the resources you need for the corner #1 events. Make sure your time management actually works. How do you know? If you come to the end of the day with time to unwind, your time plan is doing its job. That’s the best sign that you’re controlling your time and not the other way around.

By Natasha Crestani
MyBusiness, July 2008


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