A major Key to Faster Growth and Profits has to do with Time Discipline. Most of the people who become very financially successful will readily say that one of the reasons they became successful was because they learned where to spend their time and learned the discipline of spending their time doing those activities. Now, as we learned in the first key (see post on “Mindset”), most people are average. If you want to do something that is above average, you have to do what above average people do.
So, how exactly do successful people use their time that’s different from ordinary people? Well, they do 2 things that ordinary people generally don’t do, or, if they do, they’re inconsistent with it. First, they plan their days. They do not go into their offices and “let er rip” so to speak. They go into the office with a plan of attack, and they work that plan through the day. So let’s talk about how to best plan out a day. First, let’s look at how most people try to plan their days. They make lists. Usually long lists. But here’s the problem with long lists: ask yourself this question: What things on my lists do I tend to do first? Usually the answer is “the easiest/quickest tasks” because we like the feeling of crossing stuff off. Now think of this: what are those things on my lists that are usually the most productive and profitable things that I can do? Answer: usually the harder, more time-consuming tasks. So, what most people do is they set themselves up in a process where on a day to day basis they get done the easiest and least profitable, least productive tasks first. Now, think back to any day where you’ve had a long list. Did you get everything done on that list? The answer is almost always “NO”, and usually it’s “not even close”. So, what this means is when you organize yourself this way, you’re setting yourself up for failure on a daily basis. The reason is that you’ll usually never get to the more profitable, productive tasks because of your daily demands. Now, if it were the case that you could ONLY work on this list, and have no other responsibilities, obligations, or interruptions other than what’s on your list, then you could probably get through a longer list. But this is not the case for most people. Most people make a list of things that they need or want to get done that day, or the next day, but they are things IN ADDITION to the daily demands of their business. So, let’s talk about a much better time discipline process (notice I say “time discipline”, I don’t believe in “time management” because you can’t manage time. But you can discipline yourself regarding use of time).
Here are the 3 components to being far more productive and therefore more profitable on a daily basis. First, you make short lists. By short I mean no more than 6 tasks or goals for the day. It’s been proven that people cannot consistently get more than 6-7 things done in a day, so keep your lists to 6 or fewer. Also, 6 things to get done in addition to daily obligation is substantial. Now, the other thing is that by having a shorter list, you’re going to have to discipline yourself to chose high value tasks. You will be forced to keep those small, easy, low-profit, low-productivity items off your list. So, step 1: create your list of 6 or fewer.
Step 2: estimate the amount of time necessary for each. It might be 15 min, might be 60 min.
Step 3: slot each goal into your daily schedule. Now, this is the tricky part. It depends upon your business and your daily arrangement as to how this one plays out. If you are in a business where, by necessity, you have to be more reactive than proactive, like retail, this one will be a little more difficult. Notice I say more difficult, not impossible. For you, it’s important that you leave plenty of cushion and perhaps only allow a list of 3-4 tasks on your list. If you’re in a business or environment where you can be more proactive on a daily basis, than this should work very well. That being said, it’s also very important for you to leave enough cushion for the realities of life. If you don’t and you create a daily schedule full of your tasks, you’ll get caught up with your daily responsibilities and your new process for time discipline will be short lived.
So we’ve got 3 steps to this process: first, make a list of no more than 6 (I call it the “come hell or high water” list- it’s what’s going to get done today “come hell or high water”). Second, you’re going to put estimated times to that list. Third, get them down on your daily schedule. Now, these 3 steps are the easy part. As with most things, the challenge for most people comes in taking ACTION. The key to success in Time Discipline is in FOLLOWING your plan. That’s the tough part. Not letting the daily temptations to procrastinate, get distracted by the internet or conversations, or just laziness impede our taking action and following our plan. THIS is what separates those who are above average from those who are average. In results both financially and, a lot of times, in satisfaction in personal life too.
So let’s take action, starting today, on this. It’s a very quick and easy process to follow, but remember, it’s always easier NOT to do something. So let’s get it done.