The Easiest (And Most Overlooked) Component Of Time Management

Productivity, Time Management

In last week’s article, I wrote about 3 of my favorite time management tools for increasing cash flow – you can check that article out here – it’s a good one.  This week I want to continue the discussion on time management and increasing cash flow – with a concept I call: clockwatching.

Have you ever gotten off a client call that ran 20 minutes over, only to find that you feel frazzled the rest of the day?

Or perhaps you thought you were going to spend 20 minutes writing an article, only to spend 2 hours on it, which put you behind all day?

Or maybe your mom called at 1:00 and you ended up spending an hour on the phone with her which wasn’t even planned into your day at all?

Maybe you opened Facebook, intending to spend 10 minutes answering posts in a group?  Two hours later you realize that you got totally distracted.

IF YOU’RE LIKE MOST ENTREPRENEURS – INCIDENTS LIKE THESE OCCUR MORE OFTEN THAT YOU CARE TO ADMIT.  AND IT’S NOT ENTIRELY YOUR FAULT. 

You see, for the most part, most of us were not taught anything about time management, especially how it relates to increasing cash flow.  In fact, we were taught to “burn time,” “use up time,” and “cross things off.”  But none of these are super helpful when you are trying to run a profitable business.

That’s why I started teaching all of my clients the art of clockwatching.  Clockwatching means that you check the clock at the start and finish of every task you start.  And you always set an intention for how long you want to spend on tasks.  This happens during the work day of course – what you do in your free time is flexible.

Also you never spend more than an hour on any task – the exceptions being long writing projects like book chapters, sales letters etc.  But even for those writing projects, I suggest you write in 45 minute chunks.  What that means is that if you spend two hours fiddling with the pictures on your website, you were never meant to be doing that!  You need to delegate it to someone who is faster than you are.  This is a great way to force you to stay in your zone of genius and delegate the rest.

So let’s say you are writing a newsletter.  First you set an intention for how long you want to take to write it – say 45 minutes.  Then you look at the clock – say it’s 1:00.  You make a mental note that you should be finishing up by 1:45 or 2:00 at the latest.  Then you start writing.  It really helps to set a timer in the beginning as you are starting to use this process.  At 1:45 you note where you are in the article.  Are you done?  Are you halfway there?

There is no judgement in where you are in the article.  It’s just that you are learning how long things really take you.  If you notice that articles are taking you 3 hours to write – when you want them to take 45 minutes – it might be time to get some writing training or delegate that writing to someone else.  Or maybe you talk out the article, get it transcribed and edit the transcription.

ONE BENEFIT OF THE GAME OF CLOCKWATCHING IS LEARNING TO USE THE CLOCK TO KEEP YOU FOCUSED AND PRODUCTIVE, SO YOU DON’T RUN OVER ON TASKS AND CALLS. 

Another benefit is that it will also teach you about time and how long things really take you to get done.  The problem with so many of us is that we chronically underestimate how long things are going to take us, and then we put way too many things on our to-do list.  Then we beat ourselves up for not getting it all done.  This is a lose-lose cycle.

Yet another benefit is that clockwatching will force you to delegate more – since, as you get more realistic with what you can and can’t get done, you’ll start to realize that you need help.

THIS WEEK’S TIME MANAGEMENT CHALLENGE: 

  1. Buy a large-faced digital clock that you can see from everywhere in your office.
  2. Set an intention for how long every task will take this week before you start it.
  3. Look at what time it is before and after every task and call.
  4. Begin to notice how long things take you and when you are running over.
  5. Be more focused, productive and happy!

As you get better at this, you’ll start to see that clockwatching is a key element to time management and increasing your cash flow.  Because you’ll begin to use time more intentionally and productively.  Here’s to more clockwatching and more money!

Photo: flickr, uditha wickramanayaka

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