Managing your time.
The first step for managing your time is to complete the sentence, "I want to manage my time well in order to...." You need to know why you want to manage your time before you can ever hope to do it. Once you establish goals - whether it's build more houses or have more free time - you'll quickly see that the key to achieving them is to manage your time better.
In learning to manage my time, I started off with a very broad scope. I started with my life goals - what I wanted to achieve in the rest of my life. I wrote them down in a mission statement.
Writing such a document might sound daunting, but it doesn't have to be. One easy way is to write your own dream obituary. Fantasize about what you would like your obituary to say. What would you have accomplished? What would be the high points of your life? What would be your most memorable achievement? Then, write your obituary.
All those things in the obituary that you haven't yet accomplished are the things you still want to do. They can be the basis for planning the balance of your life.
This process will establish your goals and help you prioritize them. The essence of time management is recognizing and setting priorities. Without priorities, it's hard to translate your goals into the specific action plans necessary to accomplish them.
Once you've established your long-term goals and set your priorities, you need to set the shorter-term goals that will start you in the right direction. These shorter-term goals will serve as your guideposts as you manage your time.
As a builder, many of the goals you set for yourself will require input from other people - employees, partners, bankers, subs, vendors. If you don't bring them into your planning process, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to achieve what you set out to do.
One technique I use to involve all the necessary participants is to draw out a time line for accomplishing my most important goals. I establish an annual calendar that lays out the times when I and others will work on these goals. Not only do these time lines help me achieve my goals and manage my time, but they also help others manage their time better.
Developing a corporate culture of effective time management is very worthwhile. To do that, you must start with respect for time as an important resource for your company. It's as important as your financial and human resources. You must also nurture respect for each individual, regardless of their position, and for their priorities. These feelings must spread throughout your company.
You'll find the effectiveness and efficiency of your company will improve as people start to manage their own time and respect the time of others. Instead of "Gee, Fred, can I stop in and see you?" people will say "Fred, I need to chat with you about the pricing of our product at Hazy Acres. It's fairly urgent, and I'd like to do it in the next two days. And I think our conversation will take about 45 minutes."
Meetings will also become more effective. They're important communication vehicles but they can use up a lot of time. If people respect everyone else's priorities, they will use meetings much more effectively. Develop an agenda for each meeting, with assigned responsibilities and time allocations so participants know what to expect and how to prepare. And then assign a "timekeeper" whose job is to keep the group on schedule, unless they agree to amend it.
We have lots of opportunities to spend our time, both personally and professionally. In many instances, we spend time doing things we like to do, such as speaking to a particular group or serving on a board. While these may be worthwhile activities, it's important to consider them in the broader context. It's easy just to say, "Yes, I'd like to do that," but if you look at the broad context and see just how few discretionary hours you have, you may realize that you have other, more important, things to do. By stepping back for a moment before answering, you may find the better answer is "Gee, I'd love to, but I really am not able to."
When you focus on your life goals and priorities, a number of nonbusiness items will make the list. They should also make it onto your calendar. I've got time budgeted in my calendar for exercise, planning, vacation, and family and friends, all of which I consider high priorities. And when business demands start to compete for that time, my answer is "No, I have an important meeting scheduled at that time," although it might be with one of my sons.
Finally, in managing your time, make sure you give yourself time to "just be." You should set aside time to watch the sunset, go out, or spend a couple of hours of uninterrupted time thinking about the broad range of issues facing you or your business. I find this time very valuable, because it gives my brain time to generate important thoughts or new ideas. By taking time to do this, we ensure that we keep in touch with ourselves as "human beings," just "human doings."