Philosopher William James once said there is “nothing is as fatiguing as the continued hanging on of an uncompleted task.”
It’s quite simple—doing the same things in the same way yields the same results. It’s not rocket science. Working harder at doing the same or ineffective activities is self-destructive, zaps your energy and enthusiasm, and steals away precious time, yet we often persist in doing things our “old” ways.
Why? Because it’s often easier; change takes effort and not everyone wants to change. In fact, many people are so frightened of change that they’ll often settle in life rather than face their fears.
In order to conquer your time and organization management problems, improve your practice or experience personal and professional growth, you must do things differently.
I recently assembled a research and development team of advisers to explore the problems associated with poor time management and organization. We identified six categories that included at least 30 obstacles to effective time and organization management.
The six categories and a few examples include:
Organization: Clutter distraction, poor file/information retrieval and no repeatable system.
Goals: Lack of clear, measurable goals; a lack of belief in your ability to achieve goals; and a lack of specific, measurable action steps to achieve your goals.
Habits: Poor listening skills; poor work flow; “seat of pants” approaches; no sense of urgency; and a lack of balance between personal and business needs.
Practice Management: Lack of delegation; lack of effective delegation; no repeatable processes; solving the same problem over and over again; and crisis management being the norm.
Technology: Faulty equipment; not leveraging time-saving tools; and poor or no training.
External/other: Not knowing how to deal with interruptions; being a slave to emails/voicemails; can’t say no; negative attitudes from self and others; and poor health.
Let’s look at some actions you can take to conquer organization and time control issues.
Time wasters. Discover all of your time-wasting activities and what gets in the way of organization. For each time waster, create an action plan to either totally eliminate it or reduce its impact.
Define your workflow. Determine all of your necessary activities each week and allocate the ideal amount of time it takes to accomplish each one.
The perfect week. Create an ideal workweek. Physically block off time in your calendar each week to accomplish each activity you identified above along with the amount of time necessary to accomplish each activity.
Reserves. Block off reserve time to catch up on excess work, uncompleted tasks or, if you’re totally caught up, head home early.
Laser planning. Set aside time every day to review today and plan for tomorrow.
There are strategies to employ to help you follow through.
First, create bold, compelling reasons why you need to follow through on your goal of getting more organized. Make it more painful to not move forward with your organization plan than to do so.
Second, get into the habit of getting started, then add the required actions to achieve your end result.
Third, reward yourself for both getting started and staying on track. It takes energy to create new habits. You might experience some mental soreness. Be prepared for it.
Some additional suggestions to help you stay motivated in conquering time and organization management issues.
Don’t delay getting started.
Tough it out. Do whatever it takes to stay on track for the first few weeks.
Focus. Consider cutting back on the number of projects you want to undertake.
Don’t go it alone. Partner with associates so you can keep each other accountable.
Consider how bad you’ll feel by not getting organized. The more you exaggerate this consequence, the more likely you’ll follow through on your plan.
Believe in yourself. Belief in the attainment of any goal, whatever it might be, is a critical requirement in the achievement of that goal.
Identify what works for you. Whether it’s writing out affirmations, visualization or giving yourself rewards for incremental progress, figure out what works for you and employ it.
To paraphrase Tom Peters, business author and speaker, only those people who constantly re-tool themselves have a chance at sustained success in the years to come.
Look for that opportunity when embarking upon change. Good luck on your journey to success.
Editor’s note: Arzt is offering FPA Practice Management Blog readers a complimentary coaching session if you mention this article.