Becoming great is the art of developing yourself into that person, people want to hire, buy from, listen to, and regard as being dependable. This is how you get recommended and your actions truly reward your hard work. Yes, you can still be humble yet develop a reputation for ‘being great’.
Following on from Part 1 of being great the second set of skills I would like you to consider are the following;
- Time Management
For most of us experienced workers some of these things will seem like the obvious, but yet still many of us will disregard the importance we placed on these skills when we were young and boss’s or mentors drummed these skills into us. The truth is, regardless of your age, all these skills are essential and if we wish to become great they should be practiced every day in every way.
Being on time and having strong time management skills are both equally important but are also two different skills. My whole life I have been aware of the fact I did not want to let people down by being late to meetings or appointments. Certainly being late for work was something I was always mindful of and still are. Luckily I work for myself so I am most likely to let myself down if I do not get up and get working to the schedule I have planned, but I know that to be great I must stick to the plan and meet my own schedule.
There is nothing more frustrating than waiting around for someone who does not make a meeting in time. If we truly want to be known as great we should want to be also known as the person who “never lets you down” is “always on time”. With good planning this is very achievable. Here are some simple tips to help you be timely;
- Always schedule yourself time during the day and schedule time between meetings – that means book it out and work hard to meet those times. For me that maybe 30 minutes but for some of you that maybe 15 minutes dependant on where the meetings are and how much preparation for the meeting is required. At best you will make all your meetings that involve others and only slip up on the times you set aside for yourself. At worst you will see how much you can actually achieve in a day.
- If you are travelling great distances always allow time for delays and book yourself plenty of time and anticipate delays.
- Always confirm meetings in the morning with your contacts, either by email or text is fine. This simple act will re enforce to you the importance of planning your time well that day as well as help to ensure you are not left hanging by the person/s you are expecting to meet.
- Let people know how much time you have for the meeting when it starts so that you can close off (and reschedule if needed) any meetings that are likely to push your times out for the day.
- For meetings where there is likely to be a wait or disruption to the time i.e. Doctors’ appointments, meetings with people you know always run over time, make sure you do not schedule meetings too soon after this. In my case often I will not schedule any other meetings for the day but will schedule time for me to do tasks, work on my projects, therefore, ensuring the only person I am likely to let down is myself.
- When you are scheduling meetings with people that you know are not great with their time, schedule these meetings at the end of your day – you will soon learn how to cancel or postpone meetings with people that do not value time as much as you.
- If you know you are likely to be late, as soon as you realise this advise the person you are meeting with and “buy yourself more time”. Still not ideal but better than just being late. If this is happening often (more than once a week) then frankly you are a long way from being great.
I was lucky enough to be taught strong time management skills when I was still in my teenage years. These skills were honed more when I became a time management trainer for Day-Timer’s (A planner and goal planning system I still use today 40 years on). These skills have helped me achieve many things in my life and have helped me appreciate how powerful it can be when you engage this skill on a daily basis.
Firstly, Time Management is not you managing time, it is simply you managing your own activities to get the most out of your day. To become a great time manager you must first learn how to plan. To become a great planner, you need to understand the reason why you are making a plan I.e. have identified dreams and goals that you wish to achieve written down on paper. So for me developing your time management skills starts first by writing down your dreams.
- Mind mapping my dreams
Most recently (last 2-3 years) I have moved to developing my mind mapping skills for documenting my dreams. I find this tool and skillset very valuable as it allows me to see the big picture in a single glance while also letting me drill down further into the areas I most want to focus on. Mind mapping also taps into your creative brain and helps you with your own brainstorming – I find it very powerful. If, however mind mapping is not for you, then you must at least write down (using paper and pen) your dreams.The most powerful way of checking yourself when you are writing down your dreams is to add a WHY statement, this will help you focus on dreams that match your values (things most precious to you). The better the reason WHY the more likelihood of success.
- Annual Plan
The second phase for me is establishing my plan for the year, starting with a top level plan documenting all the goals (especially those that will help you realise your long term dreams) and the actions I would like to complete in that year that allow me to tick off with confidence my progress towards attaining my dream. I find this process very motivating, and although changes may happen I still get excited after new year when I get into this planning process.My annual plan then will be broken down into tasks usually numbered but in no particular order. I use a journal for this process and more often than not find I “over plan” which is all OK, it is a part of the process. You simply then go into prioritise mode and start to work out what are you most important “Dreams” and then reduce your actions down to focus on achieving the goals that will help you realise those dreams.This process can take me weeks if not months during the beginning of the year. I find I start working on my most important goals (Dreams) initially and then start to work on secondary goals later.
The final stage of this plan is to assign which months I am going to start working on the goals and tasks – for me this is a guide as you will review this each month throughout the year.
- Monthly Plan
At the beginning of the month I will then write down in my Day-Timer’s planner the goals for this month. These are things I want to achieve before the end of the month and are simply listed – not prioritised (yet). Again this list can be long, but over the years I have learnt to simplify this list and stick to half a dozen main goals only. If you achieve all these goals, then it is exciting that you can speed up your plan and maybe bring forward goals or tasks originally planned for later in the year – this is being “ahead of schedule” and gives you positive motivation.The opposite happens when you over pan your month and feel you have not achieved. Do not set yourself up to fail.You will review your monthly plan at the beginning of next month and bring forward the items still not actioned, maybe even rescheduling them for the future. Your main dream should never need to be rescheduled, if it is you need to reassess how important it really is to you.During my review and beginning of the next month’s plan (for me this is usually done during the last week of the month being completed and forms part of the daily planning session I have with myself) you will also review your annual plan and revisit your dream map/s to reinforce the WHY. This action usually pushes my daily planning time from 20-30 minutes out to 40-60 minutes every day.
- Daily Plan
The next stage for me is my daily plan, some people actually break into weekly plans, but I find I do this on Monday morning while I am preparing my daily plan, pushing items to other days as I prioritise things. Monday to Friday I start the day with my planning session (Sometimes on Saturday and Sunday but rarely as I like my downtime and usually spend much of this time with family or personal recreational activities I find useful for my soul, and yes catching up on housework). Saturday’s and Sundays are usually well planned during my working week.This planning time is the most powerful time you have to achieve your dreams and goals. It is during this time you will also learn the most about yourself and start to realign and realise what really is most important to you.NB: Doing a personal session on values and dreams is very important and most of us need help initially from a person with the appropriate skills to do this. If, however, you follow the planning process as outlined above you may find you develop the skills to achieve this yourself (this maybe the long way of getting there).Personally I use my Planner and the ABC, 123 system of prioritising my tasks each day in my daily plan. My slight variation to that taught by many of the planning experts of the 1980’s where I learnt this skill looks like this;
‘A’ items are those most important to me and usually comprise of A1 Planning, then the following 2-3 items maximum of tasks I can achieve that meet goals, that help me achieve my dreams. You prioritise these tasks 1, 2, 3 etc. and action them accordingly.
A* tasks are urgent tasks I need to do that day for someone else E.g. posting a job on my jobsite JobCafe for a client etc. These sort of tasks pop up during the day and are simply added to the list, I usually try to action these immediately if I have time.
‘B’ items are those things I need to complete that day to help keep away unnecessary stress I.e. tasks I just need to get done such as Tax returns, tasks for my family, etc. I try to again only do a few of these and schedule them throughout the week if possible so I make sure I have time to action my ‘A’ tasks that are related to my goals & dreams every day.
‘C’ items are things we think of that would be nice to get done that day, they often get carried over and either become ‘B’ or ‘A’ tasks at a later date.
Throughout my daily planning session, I am aware of the time I have to achieve each task. This is achieved by looking at my calendar and ‘confirmed’ appointments. For you souls’ sake you are always better to reduce the plan than put too much into a plan for the day I.e. You can always do more if you find time, but it can be demoralising if you are constantly pushing stuff to the next day and are not ticking of tasks and goals you set for yourself.
You will also have tasks and actions you work on every day that take longer to complete, for these you may break these goals, tasks into project plans and break them down to items you can tick off as you achieve them each day.
Finally, it really is important you reward yourself when you achieve milestones. A milestone is a significant marker in any given project that enables you to recognise your progress.
The act of ticking of each task that gets dome every day is a small celebration in itself, and there have been many studies that confirm that this positive action sends good vibrations and signals to your brain that make you feel happy and inspire you to move on.
Achieving milestones should be at an even greater level, it may mean you reward yourself to a special treat or event E.g. Lunch out to a favourite restaurant or café, or night out at the movies or a massage. This helps you to celebrate the achievement and maintain motivation to drive forward to completion and final success. Used often by great talent managers to help inspire and develop and reward teams, it can also be used by yourself for exactly the same reasons.
I think I have covered the basics, and yes there is much more detail you can learn and develop but if you do follow the process above it will also help you to discover how to customise this and develop your own planning and time management skills that lead to achieving goals and attaining dreams. Ideally you will develop a plan that helps you keep balanced and healthy, spending time on your emotional, spiritual and mental goals as well as moving positively towards attaining your dreams.
Whatever you do remember it must be measurable and it must be recorded and measured every day. Handwriting on paper is much more spiritual and meaningful than typing into technology as it brings into play other senses. Again for your master plan/s, mind mapping brings into play your creative talents. Over time you will start to develop your time management and planning skills, and learn tricks of the trade to ensure you maximise the time you have in any given day.
The perfect day for me is achieving the goals I have set and still having extra time to work on something else of great value to me. These days I try and make sure that is every day and schedule less to achieve much more. This for me helps me to achieve the very rewarding personal goal of happiness – every day.
I hope you find this very helpful – and if you master this skill I believe you are a long way towards becoming great.