September 2, 2014
When we compare aptitudes, personality profiles, tendencies for success, and whatever other variants are available for analysis, there is only one common factor with which we are all exactly equal as we start a day, a week, or a year...time.
Lengthy disquisitions have been written, speeches given, and books published on this, the dullest subject known to the human species. And yet the margin between success and failure is often tipped by our ability to conquer time control so that it works for us instead of dogging us relentlessly. Working with a large number of radio operations managers and program directors I hear it multiple times each week; "I just can't find the time to do it all." Clearly there is truth to this lament...on a given day there isn't enough time. The consequences can be disastrous.
So we ask, "If time control is so actionable in defining our lives, why can't we master it?" I've long had a theory about this. It remains unscientific and certainly unproven, yet let me table it up here. I believe many of us fail to value and effectuate strong time control because we subconsciously believe it takes away our personal freedom; that somehow if we practice disciplined time management we become a slave to our tasks and objectives.
I've suggested to people stuck in this abyss that in truth, it's just the opposite. Only when we practice high levels of time management are we really free, because we know that when we've scheduled priorities and kept our commitments (no matter how trivial some may seem), we've truly slipped the surly bonds of playing catch-up, and the sense of guilt that comes when you know you've missed a target or let someone down. So from the simplest of short lists, here is my weekly and daily approach to controlling time, so it won't control me:
- Look at your week ahead. List the top-ten priorities as they appear today. They can't all be equal. Grade them by gravity and urgency, instead of by which are more enjoyable.
- Stack the front end of the week with your 'A' priorities, then lay-in 'B' and 'C' issues.
- Don't allow smaller tactical interruptions to preempt or disrupt 'A' group execution.
- When you reach the end of the day, be sure to carry over an unfinished 'A' or 'B' priority to the first-ranked agenda item tomorrow morning.
- And when the week comes to an end, one of the most critical parts of this protocol calls for carrying over to next Monday the highest priorities not yet closed for the week just concluded.
We have unlimited personal technology with which to facilitate an easy system like this, and yet with the passage of time, we seem to get further away from controlling time so it won't control us. As mundane as it sounds, if you can improve your time control by twenty percent, it will make a massive difference in your overall performance. Time...the one thing with which we're all equally endowed. The big winners have mastered it!