When we are driven to get to our goals, we try to do more in the same amount of time and zero in on improving our time management skills. Setting clear goals is also important to building confidence and results. Yet there is a piece that ties both together: Achievement. The capability to achieve is the result of clear goals and an understanding of time management.

Did you know your perception of the world is impacting your every moment?

Joe Workman is clear on what he’s doing and why. That’s one of the reasons that I invited him to join me on the podcast. The clarity that Joe brings to his work role shapes everything he does. It’s true for you too. 

The responsibility of following through on what we say we will do … sometimes seems trivial. 

When we’re tired, or we feel a cold coming on, or we’ve double-booked some of our time, or maybe we just want a break – it’s easy to say no. The thing is that we’ve said no after we’ve said yes. The mastery of productivity and time management comes when you can say no at the beginning. Then there isn’t a beginning to finish. Even if we finish 80 percent of what we commit to extremely well, the 20 percent we don’t finish is what people remember. That 20 percent erodes our credibility with others and reduces the impact of our work.

To build on past achievement, the results of our work must stand on their own. When we take responsibility for what we are doing – and must do –  to realize our goals, consider breaking up the project by accomplishing one task that moves you toward completion. In the program “Productivity, Time, and More,” Joe shared his #1 tip: 

Set a goal for one thing you want to do that day, and get it done as early as possible in the morning.

In addition to being doable, there is an element of energy management in this pro-tip. Energy management is often overlooked.

Some of us:

  • Get excited about everything that comes our way (as you know, I’m always in this group), and if the highest priority work isn’t completed first … well, before we know it the day is over.
  • Have biological rhythms that support abstract and creative work happening in the morning. Moreover, there is another group that processes and digests in-depth work better in the evening.
  • Must work on our focus by taking into account what we must do for our life and work that day and what we must do to move toward our goals. Building focus supports switching tasks we’ve accepted and want to do efficiently.

Here are some excellent, detailed articles around energy management and its relationship to the timing of commitments:

  1. Circadian rhythms and creativity
  2. Synchronizing your biological clock to a schedule
  3. Manage your energy not your time

Shift from being productive to leveraging productivity.

This mindset requires a willingness to look at what is being done right now in your work. How long have you been doing the work the same way? When was the last time the process was reviewed … and, was it due to an outside influence? What results make the work necessary today? How about necessary in three years?

Questions like these allow you to look at the work you do differently, and to decide if it is required to get you to your goals or not. When you practice this type of reflection, over time you’ll find it becomes second nature to recognize the important work. Such contemplation becomes second nature to skillfully find the stories you’ve created to deem the work important, and to challenge your own assumptions. By the way … no matter how much practice, there are still times that we all bumble along. That’s part of the ongoing work –  and how we are able to show up to new and unique situations.

Something I’m really good at is avoiding work by grappling with seemingly important questions. For example, one I’ve got the vision for a project in sight, I’m very likely to jump right into the weeds and think about the technology we use: is the tech right for this, don’t we need something more sophisticated; how do we evaluate to know the Red Direction team is on the right path, etc. When, in reality, none of that matters at the beginning of a project.

Those are very good questions. Yet the place for them isn’t at the beginning – because what we did before worked.

A proof of concept already exists. We can use the momentum from our past success to start a new project. 

It took me years to recognize my contribution to reinventing the wheel for each new project. We’ve changed when we evaluate opportunities and change: when a project is complete. At the end, we have information, we recognize things that are changing, and we look for ways to make our team even higher functioning. I contributed to procrastination by talking about systems and processes, which in reality were just excuses preventing forward momentum.

Processes and habits require time to develop.

Listen to the full program where Joe and I discuss this: Productivity, Time, and More

Underlying the conversation is a specific idea:

When we protect a portion of our time, we make a place for ideas that we have to bubble up and be mulled over. Protected time is necessary for developing a new skill, building onto existing competency, and even developing confidence in your business decisions. 

Your role is your responsibility. What you do in that role impacts your achievement.

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