There are 24 hours in a day, of which the average person spends eight hours at work and eight hours sleeping…
That makes 40 hours per week of free time that you can do with as you wish during the workweek plus an additional 32 hours of awake time on the weekend.
The average person actually spends twice as much time away from work than at it. So what should you do with all that free time? Over 72 hours a week in all!
First, you should realize that most successful people do not work forty hours a week. So you may start by applying at least eight of those 72 hours toward your work or furthering of your career.
If you have your own business, it will be easy to spend an extra eight hours of work productively. If you work for someone else you can take work home and show your boss you put in the extra effort that others do not.
Better still, you may want to use this extra time to start a business of your own…something that fits in with your hobbies and can be fun as well as profitable, like baseball cards, or model planes.
You could start a mail order business, or maybe a part-time consulting practice to sell your knowledge.
The possibilities are endless; and if you spend enough of your extra time developing them, you may well find you create another career for yourself. This is how many successful companies originated.
At least one hour a day should be spent in furthering your knowledge of your business or industry through reading, courses, and seminars. This takes another seven hours from your free time but still leaves you with over fifty-seven free hours.
A minimum of ten to fifteen minutes should be spent on planning for the next day. Reviewing your plans for the day should be the first thing you do in the morning and the last thing you do when you leave work at the end of the day.
You still have over 55 hours of free time to spend as you please, but rather than continue eating into your free time, let’s take a look at how you can better use your work time.
Many people complain of a lack of time to do all the required daily business tasks. The best way to resolve this is to plan your days in advance, in blocks of time, hour-by-hour, minute-by-minute.
By writing down how you plan to spend your time, you will instantly become far more productive. More productivity means more money and more success.
You must use your time wisely. Time is the only thing you have to sell to your company or business. How much of the time you spend at work is really spent working? The truth of the matter is very little of it is spent working effectively.
Instead, you probably spend the day as most people do: writing memos, shuffling paper, and putting out fires.
Here is a simple eye-opener that will let you see just how much work you are really accomplishing. Show up at work tomorrow with a stopwatch and write down how you spend your time in five-minute intervals. Keep the sheet and stopwatch in front of you at all times.
As you start each new task, write down on the paper what that task is and start the stop watch. As you change tasks — phone calls, interruptions from co-workers, etc.– write down what the new activity is and how long you spend on it.
At the day’s end, write these four key headings on a separate piece of paper.
1) Meaningful work
2) Wasted time (this includes interruptions, unimportant phone calls, etc.)
3) Dealing with problems.
4) Low priority/low return work.
List underneath each of your headings the tasks you have dealt with that day. Then add up the total time spent in each category.
Now you will have a shocking picture of just how few of the hours you spend at work are spent on high-priority, money-making, or goal-oriented tasks.
Instead, what you will probably find is that looking for information, interruptions, and wasted time are the winners in the battle for your precious time.
Develop a Time-Efficient Environment
This means to have all your tools and resources in working order and at your disposal. More time is lost through inefficient paper management and searching for misplaced documents than through any other cause.
Make a habit of keeping all your work areas and desks free of all paper except what is needed for the task at hand. When you are finished with the work at hand, immediately remove it, mail it, file it, trash it, or do whatever action is applicable, but do not leave it on your desk.
Start Each Day With a Clear Plan
If you truly want to get the most out of every day, it is essential that you begin each with a clear plan. I usually plan the next day’s activities the night before. Take a day planner and write down all those tasks you want to complete the next day.
Write each task down and number them in the order of importance. Start with the most important task and stick with it until you have finished it or reached the point you wished to reach for that day. It gives me great pleasure and satisfaction to line out each task as it is accomplished.
After an overall list of tasks for the day, I plan the day’s specific activities in 15-30 minute intervals using a daily planner. Plan all of your meetings and phone calls.
Set a time limit on
meetings, especially with people who are not paying for your time. Stick as closely as possible to your timelines.
If you schedule 15 minutes to talk to an advertising rep, then let them know that is all the time you can spend with them. They will make their points faster, thus allowing you to save time.
As you near the end of your allotted time for a given task, give a two minute warning. Try to bring your business to a close quickly and efficiently.
Write Things Down
Keep a pen and paper by your phone. I can hardly believe the number of businesses I call only to be asked to hold while the person finds a pen and paper.
A pen and paper are the world’s most essential business tools, and you should NEVER be without them. I keep my appointment book open on my desk and keep notes as I speak to people. I note why they called and how I am supposed to follow up.
In that way, I have a record of the time, date, and purpose of their call so I can refer back to it if necessary at a future date. I also always write a person’s phone number under their name. In that way, I never have to search further than my appointment book for names and addresses.
Don’t Waste Your Time
Treat each minute as the valuable and precious resource it is. Every single person in this world starts out each day with the same amount of time in which to accomplish tasks and objectives. The only part that differs from person to person is how that time is used.
Successful people try to squeeze every second of opportunity from the day, while those at the lower levels simply waste it away.
If you want to make $100,000 per year, you must make $40 per hour. That is .66 per minute! If you spend 20 minutes on the phone talking to your buddy down the street about Monday night’s football game, you have just wasted $13.20 of your valuable time.
If you spend an extra half hour at lunch, you have just lost $19.80 of your time. Once lost, time can never be regained.
The next time you find yourself involved in a time-wasting activity, ask yourself this question. Would I pay my buddy down the street $13.20 in cold hard cash out of my wallet, right now, to listen to me talk about last night’s game?
The answer, of course, is no. Yet, that is what you are doing. Wasting $13.20 of your cash, which should be dedicated to reaching your goals and serving your clients or business.
If you are working on a project and are interrupted by a call that takes ten minutes, it often takes another ten minutes to get back to what you were doing. Instead of being interrupted twenty times a day, schedule 30 minutes a day for returning phone calls that are not urgent.
These are calls from friends, salesmen, or other people who are not actual clients. Your time at work is far too valuable to allow constant interruptions. By setting a specific time, it also eliminates wasteful phone tag.
Let’s say you wanted to make $60,000 a year, to do that you must make $5,000per month. This works out to be $1,153 per week, based on a 48-hour, six-day week, which we will say is typical for most successful people.
This breaks down further to be $192 per day or $24 per hour. You now have a powerful tool to help you reach your goals. You know exactly what you must make each and every hour that you are working in order to reach your desired income level.
Now let’s see which of your daily tasks really produce that desired figure of $24 per hour?
- Advertising your business or yourself to others.
- Increasing your inventory of skills
- Marketing yourself to others
These are tasks that really could produce $24 per hour. Good advertising makes the phone ring. Selling, whether it’s a direct sale of your products or getting someone to give you an interview for a better job, definitely pays off.
Marketing keeps people involved in your life and brings new blood in the form of contacts and prospects. Increasing your skills makes you more valuable to yourself and others, and this will pay off quickly.
Then, of course, there are the tasks that do not produce $24 per hour.
- Paying bills
- Ordering inventory
- Typing letters
- Adding to a database
I am not suggesting that any of these things are not important to the overall success of your business. Rather, I’m suggesting that you can find someone else to do these kinds of tasks for just a few dollars an hour, allowing you to focus on the important high-return tasks.
The Greatest Word in Time Management
The simple act of saying, “NO,” will save you more time, energy, and effort than you can ever imagine. In an overexerted effort to try to please everyone, we often find ourselves taking on more and more responsibility, activities and stress.
At some point, you simply have to say, “NO, I am sorry but I can’t.” Try it; it’s not that hard, and the people asking get over your refusal very quickly. In fact, they are already calling someone else.
Put aside X amount of time in your weekly plan to help your church, school, community, or friends. Once that time is used up, it is gone, and there is no more.
Remember the words of Napoleon who said, “You can ask me for anything you like… except my time.”
Andrew Wood is the world’s leading expert on golf related marketing. He is the author of over 2