Not only do you not have time to read this article, but you’ve probably spent too much time on your e-mail and the Internet today already. You probably have pressing things that need your attention at this exact moment. You know, that thing you’re thinking has to get done even as you read this sentence…. Yep, that’s the one.
And there are probably more where that came from!
The fact of the matter is that most people have far more on their “to-do” list than they could ever hope to accomplish. The list goes on and on—and many times it is expanding, not getting whittled down. The more a person works, the more gets added to the list, and he never gets done what he wanted to that day. It seems like he can never quite keep up. If this is you—or someone you know—we need to talk about “time management.”
Firstly, we should clear something up. There really is no such thing as “time management,” strictly speaking. Time is occurring at a regular rate and there really isn’t much managing of it that one is going to do. No matter what you do, it isn’t going any faster or slower. So when we talk about “time management” we really aren’t managing any time. In this world, that isn’t something that can be controlled.
What CAN be controlled is what one does during this time. What a person works on and one’s efficiency in getting things done is really the subject of “time management.” In fact, it probably would be better called “activity management” or “production management”—perhaps even “self management.”
When one speaks of “time management” it sounds as though one is going to parcel out some pieces of time in little piles or something—like divvying up minutes in boxes or something. Thus, time management, in its common paradigm, would be just deciding the best possible use of your “investment”—where to place your piles of time to get the best return on them. This is a nice theory, but in a practical sense doesn’t approximate reality.
Because in reality a unit of a person’s time isn’t necessarily as efficient as every other unit of their time. This sort of assumes that a person has a fixed rate of production or efficiency which they aren’t going to exceed. If one believes that they have a certain fixed capability, then of course it would be extremely important how one spends one’s time. If you lose an hour, you’ll never get that back again and it’s SERIOUS!
However, in real life an hour isn’t like every other hour. If a person is happy and enthusiastic he gets a lot more done in 60 minutes than if he’s sad and defeated. A person’s outlook day-to-day and hour-by-hour can totally change their productivity per unit of time. Additionally, one’s training and education level can have a profound effect on productivity. It goes without saying that a person who is a 25-year veteran doctor will get a lot more done in a day than a guy who just got out of school.
Because he already knows all the tricks. He has practice. He’s sure of himself. He can sit down and do something much, much faster with less wasted effort than he could when he was just starting out. So when we’re talking about time management, we’re really talking about efficiency.
And what IS efficiency?
This could be described as “doing what you’re doing while you’re doing it”. This could be described as not engaging in unnecessary and unneeded motions. This could be described doing actions that result in a valuable product rather than those that don’t.
Let’s look at this. If everyone on Earth only has so many hours in which to get things done, how is that some people are billionaires and some aren’t? How is it that some people are at the top of their field and some are just getting along? Sure there is such a thing as ill-gotten gains and cheating to get ahead, but the fact remains: nobody has a longer day or week or month than the next guy. It’s just how you use it.
So ask yourself these questions:
1. What are your long-term goals? (Meaning 10 years or longer.)
2. What major actions do you need to take in order to achieve them? In other words, “What is my plan?”
3. In your day-to-day activities, are you working toward making your plan become a reality or are you doing things that are disrelated to your goals?
4. Are you totally blocked on your plan or your goals? Is there something that is just making it seem impossible? (If this is the case, you are just spinning your wheels. We call this apathy and you need to get business or personal consulting immediately as you are essentially wasting your time and your life. There is nothing more important in your life than your dreams for yourself, for your family, for your business and your community.)
A person who is spending their time doing things they “have to do”—but which don’t forward their long-term plans—needs to rearrange something. Regardless of the reasons, the cold hard truth is that they are wasting their life.
Now, moving along on the subject of efficiency, the next point is this: does the person really know how to smoothly get their product? Do they know their job well? Are they trained in it? Are they certain about it? If a person is uncertain or nervous or worried about things on the job, he won’t just sit down and do it. He doesn’t really know what to do. In other words, he can’t control it. He has to figure out everything as he goes. Or he has to cautiously look at each piece to make sure he won’t make a mistake. He has to be careful. He has to go slow.
Efficient? Not on your life.
What’s the solution? You have to train him. He has to be able to handle each and every single part of his job smoothly and without worry. He has to feel like he can control each part of it—the employees, the clients, the finances, the marketing, the supplies and procedures, etc. If a person is unable to control each of these things, he avoids them. He wastes time. He lets things go unhandled for months. This is all wasted effort that works against him, while he sits paralyzed thinking over and over about his problems.
If he is then MADE to deal with this problematic area, because of some external threat or pressure, he might address it to some degree, but he goes much more slowly than he otherwise could and gets very little of real value actually done on it.
Take a look at it this way:
1. Make a list of the areas of your life you are most skilled in and have the most training on.
2. Make a list of the areas of your life you are most productive in and feel best about.
3. Make a list of the areas that you have the most worry and are fixating your attention.
4. Write down exactly what training or formal education you’ve had in those areas.
See any parallels?
The point is that if a person is trained, he can handle something rapidly and easily. He gets a tremendous amount done and feels great. If a person isn’t formally trained and doesn’t really know it down cold, he spins his wheels. This causes worry, stress and blocks his progress.
Now, notice an interesting fact: most of the subjects that small business owners and practice owners have trouble with are… business related! Very few dentists have trouble with dental procedures. It’s always staff, finances, new patients, etc. Things they weren’t trained on!
So time management is solved, not by compartmentalizing your day or rushing around like a crazy person or ignoring things that need to be done—no, no!—it’s solved by increasing efficiency. Figure out what you’re actually working toward in your life and remove the blocks and distractions from achieving it. Orient your life around the things that actually get real products toward your own goals. Then, figure out what things you have a hard time with and spend some time studying them until you KNOW how to handle them.
At Hanses Management we specialize in training people in areas that aren’t normally taught. How does one handle personnel correctly? How to deal with people? What about life-planning issues and strategy for your future? What does one do to train staff so they know their jobs better? How do we get more production WITHOUT sacrificing quality?
It is highly doubtful that the areas of your life where you’re spinning your wheels have to do with clinical practice and treatment. They have to do with management. Get consulting. Get training. Get some help on how to resolve these issues. Sure it costs money—so does everything. But it will be the best money you ever spent, because this is the senior thing to everything else you’re doing in your life.
If you’re being bogged down by management and organizational-type problems, don’t wait 10, 15 or 20 years and then wish you’d have done something about it. Take action now and have the life you want.
The Hanses Management Team