A broker recently reached out to me looking for tools and advice on how he could teach his agents better time management skills. I climbed high onto my soap box and wrote a rather long email back sharing my views on time management. A few emails back and forth and we decided that our discussion should become a blog post. So here we go!
Blaming time management for lack of productivity is a squirrel.
You know how a squirrel is a distraction to take your focus off of the real problem. The real problem is never time management, it is discipline management or lack there of.
Need something done, give it to a busy person.
How do busy people manage to get so much done? Are they better time managers? I would argue they are not better time managers. They are more disciplined about how they spend their time and what they focus their efforts on. They know they have a lot to do and are relentless at getting those things done.
I’m writing this just before the holiday season. This time of year lends a great example of how discipline and focus leads to output. When there is a big family event happening for the holidays, it usually means there is a lot to get done in preparation. People become very focused on getting those tasks done. Imagine if they operated their businesses with even fifty percent of that intensity? The results would be staggering.
Discipline is a mindset.
It means making the decision to start. Doing things even when you don’t feel like it. Discipline means completing tasks and not getting distracted.
Discipline should not be confused with motivation. The two have nothing to do with each other. Motivation is another squirrel. Disciplined people don’t wait until motivation strikes. They don’t give themselves the excuse of not feeling motivated. They don’t search for motivation. Instead, they focus on doing. See the difference?
A parent doesn’t wait for motivation to make the kids lunches. An athlete doesn’t wait for motivation to train or practice. Successful people don’t wait for motivation to act. They develop a mindset of doing and choose to focus on the tasks that lead to success.
We all have the same 24 hours in a day. Your discipline will determine how you spend those hours and the results of those efforts.
As I said to the broker that asked for advice on this topic, now that I’ve said all that, let me get down off my soap box. Here are some strategies you can use to help build discipline and focus.
- Give yourself a time budget for every task you have to complete today. Then stay disciplined to that time and task. Have you ever ended up with 15 minutes to get ready to leave the house instead of your normal 30 minutes? Somehow we manage to get ready in 15 minutes. A task will take the time you give it. Apply that to your to do list and daily schedule. If you have 5 follow up calls to make, allot yourself 30 minutes. Then spend that 30 minutes on those calls. No checking social media, no looking at email, only making your calls.
- Plan your work time, family time and me time. Then stay discipled to the plan. This doesn’t mean be inflexible, life will happen and you’ll have to rework that plan. The point is have the plan and work the plan. Athletes always have a training schedule they follow. They make adjustments but they stay focused on getting the training done.
- Put your sneakers on. I’m a runner and have been a running coach for many years. Runners know sometimes the hardest part of the run is putting your sneakers on. Once you’ve done that the actual run is good. The mental discipline it takes to put the sneakers on and walk out the door to go on a run is tough. That’s where the heavy lifting really is. You have to get your sneakers on, it will get easier from there. The discipline to start is the hardest part. Some days will be easier than others but it will always take discipline, not time management to start.
Action Items After Reading This Blog:
1) Decide how you will build your discipline mindset.
2) Find a friend, coach, accountability partner to hold you accountable.
3) Remember, you can do more than you think you can.