Time Is Tight

Jim Blasingame It's difficult to know where to start when introducing Gene Griessman, Ph.D. He is an author, TV producer, speaker, trainer, one of the world's top portrayers of President Lincoln, and that's the short list. I'm very pleased to also add that Gene is our friend, and a member of our Brain Trust. During one of our visits, we talked about managing our time. Gene is one of our time management experts, and his book, Time Tactics Of Very Successful People, is excellent.

Be A Contrarian
One of the things Gene recommends to maximize the 24 hours we all get each day is to be a contrarian. Webster: Contrarian (con trar' i an) n, acting in opposition to majority opinion. God help me, I'm a contrarian. But when Gene talks about being a contrarian, he means contrary time management: look at the things you have to do, consider the circumstances around them, and try to identify aspects of those projects that are unproductive. Then approach the project in a way that is contrary to how you had previously looked at it.

If you can't put your finger on why you're having trouble getting as much done as you want, perhaps seeing some of my interruptions will help: Drop-in visitors; phone calls; email replies; and those pesky customers. Good interruptions (customers) or bad (cold-calling salespeople), all break up your day and your focus.

I know. We've all tried to stop the interruptions, typically with little success. And since we know the interruptions aren't going to modify their behavior, it's up to us to modify ours, by being a contrarian.

Five O'Clock Club
Another of Gene's suggestions is to be a member of the 5 O'Clock Club. He got this from that famous make-up entrepreneur, Mary Kay. She told him she recommends to her associates that they get up at 5:00 a.m. each day, when you are least likely to be interrupted, so you can get those jobs done that only you can do. This is familiar territory for most of us small business owners. Some go in early, and some stay late. And then there are those of us who do both. We turn the lights on, we turn the lights off. Whatever it takes, right?!

Mastering Your Moods
Gene says we can be more productive with our time if we master our moods. If we feel down, the work still has to get done, right? Gene encourages us to use affirmations for those times.

If you've been listening to my show, you know I believe in affirmations. When I'm faced with a difficult challenge, and I know I MUST make something happen, I say to myself, "This is no hill for a climber, and I'm a climber." I've got dozens of these for different circumstances, and I'm sure you have your own. I like to think of them as little pep talks to myself.

When you've got a mood obstacle, or some complication blocking your success, first you must believe in yourself. Then knock that negative roadblock out of your path with a blast of positive thinking. Here's another one I picked up along the way, and use all the time, "If it is to be, it is up to me." Ten tiny two letter words that, when strung together, create power, and strengthen your resolve.

Uuggh!! I hate that word. I am a very productive person, but I struggle with procrastination all the time. Gene and I agree on this solution to procrastination. He says do the most undesirable things first. I know, you've heard this before. It's simple to say, and intuitive when we contemplate it, but difficult to do. Next time you are faced with procrastination, try this time-saving combo: Take a deep breath, shoulders back, put the "no hill for a climber" affirmation in front of you, and then dive in early so that job you dislike, but must do, doesn't hang over your head all day.

Learn to say no
Gene says this can save lots of time. He's right, but there are two realities that get in the way of saying no: 1) Our ego, 2) We don't know how to say no graciously. You're on your own with the ego thing. But Gene has some excellent thoughts on how to say no graciously. He says to use three steps.

1) Say thanks for being considered
2) Say you can't take that task on "at this time"
3) Ask to be considered at another time

A simple method, but with significant potential for time saving results.

I believe in volunteerism. It's one of the critical elements of a free society. But if you are a conscientious and reliable person, you are going to be asked to do lots of volunteer jobs. So many that you will not be able to do them all successfully. Stay focused on your business and the causes you love most, and learn to say no to the others.

Write this on a rock... The title of the 1960s instrumental by Booker T and the MGs says it all, "Time Is Tight". You've got 24 hours a day to eat, sleep, socialize, volunteer, worship, love, and work. Each of these areas is demanding and jealous of the others. Reminds me of the guy on Ed Sullivan's show who spun plates on top of sticks. You've got to keep them all spinning or something gets broken. Your level of success in dealing with the components of your life depends on your ability to spin your life's plates. The key to time management success is recognition of the challenge, acceptance of the limitations, and practicing good time tactics.

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