Time Management Crash Course - Lesson 5

Do What Matters!

Welcome to lesson 5 of our crash time management course.

Up until now we have been focusing on doing things as efficiently and as effortlessly as possible i.e. doing things the right way.

The intention up to now has been to equip you with the mindset and skills to ensure you can use your time scheduling system like a Pro.

In the same way that a mechanic who knows how to use their tools gets through their work more quickly, you should now be able to run the mechanics of your system with minimum effort in the least amount of time.

It’s rather like cleaning up the kitchen before cooking a gourmet meal.

Now it’s time to decide what to cook!

The course will now turn to focus on how we determine where to invest our time for maximum effect and reward - in other words the focus now is on spending your time on the stuff that matters - the core behavior underpinning effectiveness.

So welcome to lesson 5.

Video 1 (of 2) : Do What Matters Introduction

Video 2 (of 2): What are your vital few?

Homework from this lesson

  1. Download this time management worksheet and identify your vital few.
  2. In relation to the vital few, what do you want to achieve in the next 12 weeks? Please make sure it is measurable and quantifiable.
  3. What do you need to do each week, in terms of the amount of time you have, to dedicate to these vital few activities?

Lesson 5a: Text Summary

A ninja move to enhance your focus is to turn off your email alerts. Even the most focused individuals can quickly be led astray by the incessant ping-ping-ping of incoming emails - but if a person is already prone to distraction these incoming signals can really derail the whole day. 

Out of the box, the default settings on most email programs are set with all the bells and whistles on. We want to turn off these bells and whistles. Remember at a minimum when the email alert pops up it is a one-minute cost on your focus. Every time you look at the little pop-up that pops on the bottom of the screen it’s a one-minute cost of your attention. 

This is at a minimum now multiply this across the day with many many emails that you get. Now many people say hey I can’t do this - what if it’s the critically urgent and important email. If it is really something that you are concerned about then consider setting up an auto-responder that redirects all urgent matters to your phone. Since the software changes often please see this link on my site below for some suggestions. 

One final note - turning off notifications also means turning off all social media notifications coming to your email as well. Here’s how to turn off alerts to turn off alerts in Outlook. 

Level 5b: Text summary

if I were to freeze you in time and you were at no extra work the average person would have in the vicinity of 300 to 450 hours of work still outstanding. 

No wonder people feel overwhelmed. They are drowning in a sea of actions and requests and email. 

A clear consequence of this is that you just can’t do it all and that extra high stress means you just can’t make good decisions. It’s better to decide what’s important upfront.So think about what’s really important to you. 

Consider your values, your work, your ambitions, your finances, and your family, and your health goals, and any other areas that could be considered important for you. 

Let’s consider work first. 

With this in mind over the next 12 weeks what I would like you to do is to choose 1-3 priority areas that will deliver the highest value for you, your team, or your company. If you focus exclusively on those things. Imagine these activities are the only things that you have time for. 

Now I’m not asking for 5 to 10 things but simply two or three. Why two or three well there’s a couple of reasons. 

  1. There is a mathematical formula 1 to 3 equals 1 to 3; 4 to 10 equals 1; and greater than 10 equals 0. So if you focus on 1 to 3 priority activities you will probably get 1 to 3 priority activities. If you focus on 4 to 10 priority activities well you are starting to spread yourself a bit thin and you’ll probably get 1 priority area. If you focus on more than 10 priority activities well you are probably spreading yourself way too thin and you probably won’t get any because your energy is just too dispersed and too fragmented. This is a common problem that sits within the workplace that we spread ourselves too thin across multiple priorities and as a result we fail to achieve any of them. 
  2. The second reason to limit to 1 to 3 priority areas is because of the Pareto principle. This was named after Vilfredo Pareto an Italian economist who observed that 20% of Italians owned 80% of the land. This observation was known as the Pareto principle as it could be applied to many other areas of life. For example, when you look at it applied to aspects of your business it could look like this, 20% of your staff make 80% of the sales, or 20% of the client base generates 80% of the profits, or 20% of your customers create 80% of your complaints!! But it’s also applied to your productivity - 20% of what you do in terms of your time, input, or efforts, generates 80% of your results. 

So the key is to work out what is the magic 20% that we can spend more time on and be even more profitable and more successful. So the Pareto principle is a guide to help you be more productive and spend less time checking to see who’s written on your wall, playing Angry Birds, or chasing useless leads. 

So choose 1 to 3 priority activities over the next 12 weeks at work that if you focus on them will give you the biggest bang for buck. 

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