How To Make Time Be On Your Side - Part 2
Last month, I posted a blog on time management and how it relates to financial success. Today, I’d like to share a few simple, easy tips on how to manage time.
First off, always remember this basic truth: the purpose of time management is to maximize your ability to do what you want to do in the time you have available to do it. In other words, let’s say you really want to collect stamps. Proper time management can enable you to create more time for stamp collecting … or, if you prefer, to collect more stamps in the time you already have.
Keep that in mind as you read the following tips. Each is designed to help you maximize your ability to do more of what you want to do.
To better manage time, first plan how you want to spend your time.
Imagine that you have eight hours to get a list of ten different activities done. Would you just launch yourself into the first item on your list and then proceed from there? Or would you stop, plan how you wanted to tackle each item, and then proceed?
If you chose to plan first, congratulations! There is nothing more important to time management than proper planning. By planning first and then doing, you can determine:
- Which items on your list are most important, and therefore must be done first
- What you will need to accomplish each item
- How long it will take to accomplish each item
- What kind of help you will need to accomplish each item
The end result? You can actually accomplish everything on your list much faster, easier, and more efficiently than if you were to just start doing things. I think Dwight Eisenhower said it best:
“Failing to plan is planning to fail.”
So how does planning relate to your finances? Well, exchange “eight hours” for “years till I want to retire.” And swap out my imaginary list of ten items for your list of financial goals.
Next, don’t try to tackle each goal one by one, when and where you can. Instead, create a plan. Which goals should—or must—be accomplished first? What do you need to do, learn, or acquire in order to accomplish each goal? What help will you need? What obstacles will you need to overcome? Plan these things. Write them down. Once you have a plan, you will no longer be fumbling around blindly in the dark, simply hoping to accomplish your financial goals. You will be following a map, methodically doing what needs to be done.
Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize.
Spending too much time on tasks that don’t matter—or don’t matter as much—is perhaps the easiest way to waste time short of surfing the internet. Here’s an example. In my line of work, I get a lot of emails. Now, some of those emails may be very important, and all of them need to be answered … but if I put answering emails first, I would get nothing done for the rest of the day. So instead, I prioritize the items on my task list. For me, nothing is more important than actually talking to my clients. So the first item on my to-do list is to call or meet with every client who needs attention. Then, I move onto other important tasks: researching the markets, writing proposals and financial plans, etc. Only after these activities are complete do I start answering emails. And if I can’t answer every email during the course of the day? Then I prioritize the remaining messages, and answer the highest priority emails first when the next day rolls around.
So how does this apply to you? Well, some of the most successful people I’ve ever known routinely prioritize their financial activities. For example:
- They prioritize their spending habits. Fixing the car always comes before buying the next iPhone®.
- They prioritize which bills and debts should be paid off first.
- They prioritize which financial decisions are the most pressing. For example, creating a will and purchasing life insurance should always be at the top of your list.
- They prioritize which goals are most important to them. My rule of thumb: never give up the things you want the most, for the things you only want right now. Maybe you really want to buy that new sports car you saw on TV … but you’ve wanted to spend retirement traveling the world with your spouse since the day you got married. Both of these things are goals, but one should definitely be a higher priority than the other. So set aside that extra income for travel expenses. There will always be a newer, shinier car waiting for you down the road.
Remember, the purpose of time management is to maximize your ability to do what you want to do in the time you have available to do it. By prioritizing your activities, and focusing on your highest priorities first, you will be able to accomplish more of what really matters. That’s what I call an efficient use of time.
Struggling to do something by yourself when someone else can do it better (and quicker) is a waste of time, pure and simple. For example, someone with no car expertise could spend weeks fixing their car and have nothing to show for it but a lot of grease stains and bandages. Meanwhile, all the projects they could have done by themselves just sit there.
Figuring out when to delegate a task or project, or when to seek appropriate help for said task or project, is a wonderful way to get more out of the time you have. But this truth doesn’t just apply to fixing cars. It applies to your finances, too. To put it bluntly, the world of finance is vast, complicated, and often frustrating. Do you know all the legal subtleties that go into creating a will? What about the tax consequences of buying or selling an investment? Yes, you could learn these things, but it takes a lot of time, and there’s still no guarantee you would get it right.
Fortunately, there are numerous professionals who can help. Instead of spending a lot of time trying to do their job, spend a little bit of time finding out who they are. Look for the most experienced, qualified professionals to help you make the tough financial decisions. That way, you can spend more time enjoying your money and less time worrying about it.
I hope you found these tips helpful, «Salutation». Above all, though, remember that time management is crucial to financial success. By following the steps above, I promise you will be able to maximize your ability to do more of what you want in the time you have. You will be more effective, efficient, and productive. You will be happier.
And in the end, isn’t happiness what life is all about?
“If you love life, don’t waste time, for time is what life is made up of.” – Bruce Lee