I always hear people complain about lack of time. With penetration of Internet and gadgets into every place we live, people are becoming more and more busy. So much so that they don’t have time for anything. I asked this question to myself – “It this really true?”. I don’t think so. Knowing that there are only 24 hours in a day, we can definitely learn to manage it efficiently.
Sometime back I read a very good book – “Cut to the Chase”, by Stuart Levine. In this book Stuart describes how a common man indulges into unnecessary things and wastes his most productive time. He writes about 99 rules to liberate yourself and gain back the gift of time.
Heres what I do to manage time effectively. This is particularly in the context of startups and for people who think/feel they are the busiest person in the world. 🙂
1. The first 20 mins of the day
The first 20 minutes of the day matter a lot. Plan your day at this time and stick with the plan. Sporadic events are inevitable so account for them in your plan.
2. Start with the end in mind
If you are going to work on something or get some work done, think of the end goal first. Fix the coordinate where you wanna go or what you wanna achieve, then begin.
3. Focus on one thing at a time
We all are jugglers. We feel proud to claim that we are multitasking. Believe me, it will drain your energy at the cost of not getting things done efficiently. Always focus on one thing at a time, finish it and then move on to the next thing.
4. Assumptions kill
Making assumptions is not a bad thing. But soon assumptions start appearing in our brain as facts. Taking decisions based on assumptions is dangerous. We often assume a person’s behaviour, pattern, business strategy, etc. Instead, be upfront, collect the facts. This will save a lot of time.
5. Think in bullets
When asked about work or business or anything else in Life, people always start telling out stories. Stop that. Start thinking in bullets. Make your thought as concise as possible and articulate them in simple words.
6. Check whats been going better lately and why?
Always keep a tab on progress. Ask yourself this question:
Whats going better for you lately? and Why?
These check points will put you on the road to success. You got to build momentum. In what ever you do, you need to predict how long things will take to get done.
7. Close the loop
DONOT leave loose ends. Close the loop always. If something remains open for a long time, it will eat up your time because you are constantly thinking about it.
8. To speed up, slow down
Life is not a race. Its a quest! Sometimes you need to slow down – think through your actions – in order to actually speed up. Taking actions without proper thought and only speed in mind will ruin you. You are prone to make mistakes in a rush. Take your time. But come back strong.
9. Teach people how to use your time
Time is the only thing you have with you. Its very very precious. Ensure you don’t let anyone simply use it up. You have to invest some time to teach people and setup a system to allow others to use your time effectively. Setup an appointment system, or request your friends/family to give notice before barging in. One off events are OK, but if you don’t teach people how to use your time, they are not going to learn.
10. Treat others’ time as you would your own
Others time is also as important as yours. People will appreciate you more if you use up as less time of theirs as possible. Respect it and learn how other people – your mentors, your board member, your advisor, your friend – want you to use their time. Talk to them about it and fix up a schedule.
11. Know whats being asked of you
People set expectations. Knowing what is being asked of you before acting is very important. Saves you tonnes of time. Ask questions to clarify. Begin only when you know what is expected.
12. If you want something, ask for it.
Different people think differently. What questions you might have, the others might not. Don’t be shy. If you want something, all you have to do is – Ask!
13. Tell them if the baby is ugly
Be brutal and be very honest. If you don’t like it, say it. If you pretend or hide your real opinions, people would make wrong assumptions. This will come back and haunt you in future.
14. Make sure everyone has the map
Managing 100s of people is not easy. We all have a map in our head that we constantly keep tweaking as we go along with our lives. There is a map for everything in our head. Personal life map, work map, project map, trekking map, etc. Sharing this map with the other stake holders bring the team together and in sync. You will see better progress and quicker yields.
15. Create a “no loitering” zone
In your home or work, create a “no loitering” zone. Be it a specific time of the day or be it a specific place at work, people should know you can’t be disturbed.
16. You can’t please everyone
We want to be best friends with everyone. We want to be that guy who is loved by everyone. Trust me. Its not going to happen. You can’t please everyone. Take this as a fact and move on.
17. Know when you are not needed
You might be the best. You might have the greatest contribution. But you can’t stay there forever. Knowing when you are not needed is an art. Master the graceful exit and you will be loved for it.
18. Know your weaknesses, but play to your strengths
Each one of us can’t have all skills. We are weak in some and strong in others. You have to learn and understand you weaknesses and strengths. By knowing your weakness you can play to your strength. The yield is better this way.
19. Think three moves ahead
Time and again I see people living in today all the time. When asked, they say – “Everything is going alright at the moment. I have nothing to worry. Why make a change for the future?”. Its a BIG mistake. Gone are the golden days when people used to work in the same company for all their life. Gone are the days when there used be customers buying groceries from the same corner shop all their life. Gone are the days when only people like TATA could build huge companies. Even the weather is changes by the minute. You have to always think 3 moves ahead to keep afloat.
20. If you need a drummer, hire a drummer
Hiring is not an easy thing to do. Its very much like shopping. You go shopping, you want to buy a pair of jeans. You comes across a cool looking sweat shirt and you buy it. Later it turns out you never really used it so much. You might even run out of budget when you actually need to buy something else next month.
So plan your hires. Hire only the skills you are looking for.
21. Don’t be afraid to hire people you’re going to lose
Of all the people, as a first time entrepreneur – when I started on my journey back in 2009 – I realised this mistake. I use to be afraid that people seemingly good might leave our company. I tried to keep them back, but its no use. You have to create a company that people would die to work for.
22. Decide what not to do
Your time is your life. Everyday that goes by, you get older by that day. You have to choose what you wanna do and more importantly choose what you don’t wanna do. By removing the unwanted, you clear some good time to work on things you wanna do. Also, don’t let that blackberry of yours become a crackberry. Technology as good as it is can become a time sucking machine more often than not.
23. When you hear something once pay attention. When you hear something twice, Act!
We often leave it to God or time to heal a situation. If you hear something bad, don’t be reactive but pay attention. It is very important. Think about it and see what mistakes you did and how you could avoid it in future. When you hear the same something again, its time to act. Don’t waste any more time thinking. Just Act.
24. Don’t let a difficult coworker dominate your life
Its our life and we choose what we do. A difficult coworker or partner or whoever you deal with on a daily basis could easily control your life. In one way or the other the opinions of this person start mattering. Close your ears and think. Remember, to speed up you have to Slow down. Don’t let other people’s opinion or judgement ruin or dominate your life.
25. Take back the weekend
You are a mere mortal. You can’t live if you don’t eat. Your brain also needs some food in the form of breaks. Give your body and brain some rest. Take that weekend off and recoil. Go for a much needed holiday. Reward yourself. Know when to put the book down.