On this week’s SUCCESS Line, I speak with Nikolaos. Nikolaos is a software engineer and Ph.D. student in computer science. He, like many of us, has a plethora of options to explore, future plans to ponder, and relationships to strengthen. “How can I get to peak performance and efficiency while still establishing a relative balance?” he said on the show.
One of the things that most entrepreneurs struggle with is time management. Nikolaos has a time management strategy in place, yet he still runs out of time at the end of the day. If you’re reading this, I’m sure you, too, have a lot of things vying for your attention.
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When you look at exceptionally high achievers, you realize they are constrained by the same 24 hours as you are, so what allows them to accomplish things that may appear irrational, strange, or unexplainable?
They are able to accomplish this because they have mastered the art of time management. Time is a limited resource that we cannot make more of. If you’re an entrepreneur who can’t seem to get enough hours in the day, keep reading for my top three time management techniques.
1) Keep Track of Your Time.
Not all of the things in which we invest our time are created equal. According to the Pareto Principle, we spend 80% of our time producing 20% of our results. And the opposite is true: 20% of what we do yields 80% of our results. This means we need to be very clear about what our “20% activities” are.
What factors are the most important in determining whether or not I will achieve my goal? What are the things that are most important to me?
It’s easy to lose track of the wonderful things in a sea of nice things. Saying yes to a few great things also means saying no to a lot of decent things. This is the most difficult aspect of time management:
deciding which of these allegedly decent things should be pushed down the priority list in order to make room for the outstanding items
We must re-evaluate and audit how we spend our time. While sorting and weeding through our priorities is not an easy or quick process, the payoff in terms of what you may accomplish as a result is enormous.
Determine What Will Be Shattered.
A long time ago, one of my mentors told me that everything we might possibly devote our attention to in life is either a rubber bouncy ball or a glass ball.
The rubber bouncy ball will bounce and finally find its way back to me if I drop it. It will be alright; no harm will come to it. When the glass ball reaches the ground, however, it shatters, and there is no way to put it back together.
Any achiever’s job is to figure out which of those things will bounce and which will break. What we can be confident of is that none of us will live to see another day. And none of us will look back on our lives and wish we had spent more time on the things that bounced—we will look back on our lives and wish we had prioritized the things that shatter better.
Filter your priorities through the lens of what will bounce and what will shatter as you consider them. I believe you will notice a significant improvement in the clarity of your time management decisions.
Recognize That “Balance” is a Figment of Your Imagination.
Throughout my professional career, I’ve discovered that the elusive equilibrium we’re all looking for is a myth. There isn’t such thing as equilibrium. The world is built up in a counter-intuitive way. Counterbalance is the prism through which we should view our time, and it is the truth of how achievers do great things.
If you’re constantly trying to strike the right equilibrium, the only thing you’ll get is burnout. You must figure out how to counterbalance. When you choose to say yes to and prioritize one thing, you must immediately say no to something else. Either we can fight it and drown, or we can embrace it and grow.
Keep in mind that there will never be a day when you achieve the ideal equilibrium.
Setting priorities and allocating time are merely the first steps in a lifelong process of time management. You must check your hypothesis carefully to ensure that you made the correct option. And if it turns out that it wasn’t the best choice, the beauty is that you can make another.
Learn to manage your time in the most efficient way possible, and you’ll find that you can do things that are beyond your wildest fantasies.