One of my goals this year is to Work Smarter. The following is an excerpt from “Cultivating your Enterprising Nature” by Jim Rohne. By practicing a few of his suggestions every day, you can use time with focus and effectiveness.

Run the day, or it will run you – Part of the key to time management is staying in charge. Some will be masters of their time, and some will be servants. Enterprising people become the masters of their time.

To master your time, you must have clear written goals for each day that you keep with you at all times. It helps to create each day’s list the night before. Prioritize your goals for the day and constantly review them.

And here’s a good question to ask yourself constantly: Is this a major activity or a minor activity? By asking that question, you will reduce the amazingly natural tendency to spend major time on minor things. Before you answer an email, ask yourself if this is a major activity or a minor activity. Before you make a phone call, ask yourself if this is a major phone call or a minor phone call. Enterprising people don’t let the minor activities distract them from the major activities — the ones that hold the keys to their success.
Don’t mistake activity for productivity – You probably know some people who always seem to be busy being busy. To be successful, you must be busy being productive. Some people are going, going, going, but they’re doing figure eights. They’re not making much progress. Don’t mistake activity for productivity, movement for achievement. Evaluate the hours in your days, and see if there is wasted time that you could manage better.

Remember there is an opportunity cost to every single activity you do. The time you spend doing one thing is time you could spend doing something else. Before investing your time in anything, briefly ask yourself if this is the highest leverage activity you could be doing to accomplish the most important priority on your list for the day. And, make sure the activities on your list for the day are the highest leverage opportunities to accomplish your short- and long-term goals.
Focus – The third key to time management is good concentration. You’ve got to zero in on the job at hand and, like an ant, let nothing stand in your way and let nothing distract you from the task. Assuming this is a major activity in pursuit of the highest leverage opportunity available, there should be nothing more valuable to invest your time in.

If you have a long list of things to get done within one day, do the toughest one while your concentration is at its peak. If you’re a morning person, get the job done in the morning. Don’t wait until the evening when your energy is all spent. Do the jobs that need the most concentration when your body is best able to handle them.

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Filed under: March 2010

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