By Terry Liskevych
I recently saw an interview with Warren Buffett, one of the world’s wealthiest individuals. This was one of the statements he made: “The most important item for me is time. I can purchase or acquire anything, but I cannot buy time.”
This resonated with me. I’ve been a stickler for time-management my entire coaching career. My teams were always 5 minutes early, and I have rarely been late. I mentor my co-workers, staff and players on the importance of making the best use of their time.
Time management is not about keeping busy, but about finding a focus – creating a dream, setting a goal, identifying a direction and then working toward it step by step.
Many people think of time management in terms of getting more things done. But that misses the point. What it’s really about is getting the right things done.
To complete goals and accomplish tasks most efficiently, you need to have a well-planned organizational system. Remember, you are the architect of your day.
Once you master time-management skills, you’ll find that you are achieving more. You’ll meet more deadlines, have more free time, live a more balanced life.
One thing to be aware of is the myth of the hard-worker, the person who puts in 18 hours a day, works on weekends, etc. Are they efficient? Do they get things done in a timely manner? Are they enjoying themselves? Often, the answers are no.
I’m sure you’ve heard the expression “time is money.” Well, time is not money. Money is money. Time is time. You can always make money, but you cannot make time. DO NOT WASTE IT!
Now, let’s get to our strategies:
- Decide 2 important things: What do I want? How do I get it?
- Live in the present, not in the past or future. If you spend too much time thinking about what hashappened or what may happen, you’ll be less productive.
- Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today. DO IT NOW!
- Create a system, then stick to it.
- Follow the “80-20 Rule” – 80% of your productivity comes in 20% of your time.
- Expect the unexpected. It will always occur, so roll with it.
- Leave empty blocks in your day for uninterrupted “think time.” Creative ideas don’t usually come when you’re busily checking things off your “To do” list.
- Time management = self-management. In other words, discipline yourself!
- Make a weekly “To do” list – and rewrite it every week – and make a daily “To do” list that is your first priority. Prepare your daily list the night before or early in the morning. Prioritize and categorize your lists by assigning an importance value to each task: A, B, C.
- Know your #1 priority for each task, meeting and project, and get to it. It’s important to focus on one thing at a time so you finish projects. Don’t be one of those people who has a million projects in progress but never finishes any of them.
- Become a better time-manager by learning to delegate.
- Use a daily planner/organizer. It can be on your smartphone, tablet or computer or an old-school paper and pencil version.
- Know your best time of day and use it for tackling the A projects. Is it early morning, afternoon, evening, late night? It’s different for everybody.
- Handle paper across your desk (letters, memos, faxes, etc.) only ONCE, then assign an importance value to each and put it in the appropriate, file, drawer, folder – or in the trash. Piles of disorganized papers are counterproductive.
- Make your work space comfortable. You spend a lot of time there, so why shouldn’t it be?
- Avoid interruptions like unannounced meetings, phone calls, emails, texts, etc. You don’t want to be breaking away from a task every time someone tries to connect with you.
- Control your phone calls. Pick a time of day to return calls and schedule a time of day to take calls. You’ll be more efficient if you handle most of your phone calls all at once rather than disrupting your work to take them when they come in.
- Choose 1 or 2 days a week to run errands. It’s more efficient to do them all at once, and that way you won’t interrupt your daily work flow.
- Make room for leisure time every day. This is essential for keeping yourself fresh for work and projects.
- Schedule a “stop the world day” every two weeks. This is a day that’s all about you. No calls, emails, texts or social media.
- Get used to re-doing and re-writing your tasks/projects. Productivity is fluid.
Terry Liskevych, who retired last year as the head women’s coach at Oregon State and is one of the founders of The Art of Coaching Volleyball, coached the U.S. women’s national team at three Olympics, including 1992, when they won a bronze medal in Barcelona.