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The Simple Key to Successful Time Management

Author: Paul Martinez   |   December 30th, 2010

If you’re like most entrepreneurs, you work long hours to pursue your dream.  But you can’t work long hours forever.  You need to have a plan in place that sets clear goals about reducing your work time—while simultaneously increasing your wealth, happiness, and freedom.

Ok, don’t panic; this doesn’t require any hard work.  I’m going to give you a step-by-step plan you can follow.  And you can do this in 10 minutes on a notepad.

Time ManagementThe only requirement is that you post it front-and-center over your workspace.  You need to see this goal every day to make it a reality.  Write it down and keep it at the top of your mind and you’ll get there faster then you ever thought possible.

First, figure out how many hours a week you work now.  You can do this two ways:

Estimate your total work hours …and then add 20%.

Why the extra 20%?  Because it’s very easy to “forget” hours you logged working outside of your business.  We entrepreneurs tend to be optimists, so it’s natural for us to “forget” the 2 hours a night we spend answering emails and setting up our schedules.  Or driving to and from appointments.  Or the time we spend thinking, worrying, and planning.

Writing late-night emails, driving time, and evening thinking about your business all fall under the category of “work”.  And those little time thieves need to be accounted for if you’re going make big changes in your business and life.

So if you estimate that you currently spend 50 hours a week on your business, you should add 10 hours (20%) to that number and work backwards from there.  If you work 60 hours a week, add 12 hours, for a total of 72 hours a week.  And so on.

Track your actual work hours
The other option is to keep an hourly planner with you and actually write down what you did every day for a week.  You don’t have to fill it out every hour; 9am, 12pm, and 5pm are fine.  The 9am time slot will probably be an eye opener, because you’ll find yourself writing down all the “one more things” you ended up doing the night before.

This process can be very useful for time management, but it’s not absolutely necessary.  However, it WILL open your eyes to all the time you waste on unnecessary tasks and how much extra work you create for yourself.

Part of our nature as businesspeople to take on more responsibility, “get it done right”, and handle it all on our own.  That drive is key to long-term success…but it can also lead to frustration and burnout.  Tracking your actual work habits can be a very simple, very powerful way to focus your energy on the important stuff—the stuff that actually makes you money.

Chances are you’ll be shocked when you tally up your actual work hours. Because the truth is that most of us work far more than we think we do.

It’s not unusual for entrepreneurs to work 60…70…or 80 hours a week.  And when you include the time you spend thinking about your business or worrying about what needs to be done, that figure can be even higher.

Now, figure out how many hours you want to work—and how quickly you want to reach that goal. Set a concrete date—say, 1 month away.  Don’t be afraid to be aggressive with your goal.

Using the “Carrot and Stick” to Reach Your Goals Fast
Now take out a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle.  On the left side, write “Positive Benefits”.  On the right side, write “Negative Consequences”.

As a side note, it’s important that you do this by hand.  You must write this out.  It’s key to making this process work.

Imagine what that freedom would feel like.  What would you do?  What would that do for you? Your family? Your happiness?

Write that down.  Make it real.  Really imagine yourself at the level of success you want to reach—and write down how that feels and what it looks like.

Now, on the other side of the paper, write down what will happen if you keep doing things the way you’re doing them now.  The long days.  The sleepless nights.  The constant low level of stress that’s always in the background.

Just imagine what that does to your health.  Imagine what it does to your relationships.  And imagine what it’s doing to your quality of life.

Now write down all of that. And write down what your future will look like if it doesn’t change.

Scary, isn’t it?  But there’s a reason to go through this exercise.  You see, you can’t just use the good stuff to motivate yourself.  We humans just aren’t wired that way.  We need to have a bit of fear to really get us going.

In other words, we need the carrot AND the stick.

Please don’t skip this exercise.  If you don’t take action now, nothing will ever change.  Take the time to go through this process, and in 6 months you’ll be amazed with how different your life looks.

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