Simple isn’t it? The best, most effective tools to drive you towards your goals often are. Simple tools usually drive results.
Unfortunately, Deadlines usually conjure up thoughts of stress.
Some may think about their college days and the “all-nighter’s” that were pulled to crash study for an exam at 8am. In the real world it could be a product launch with a hard date. Or a critical delivery needed for a customer. Or just a last minute “fire drill” that disrupts a methodically planned day.
Any way you slice it, deadlines drive behavior as good as any “tool” in the business world.
Deadlines fall into 2 categories:
- Imposed by OUTSIDE forces – These deadlines act on YOU. Your boss, customer, team, co-workers, basically anybody OTHER than you
- SELF-imposed – You act on IT. Set by you, for a simple reason: To drive your actions towards an important goal, result, outcome.
Where is most of the stress? No brainer, the ones that are NOT self-imposed.
What do average or poor performers focus on? #1
What do top performers focus on? SELF-imposed deadlines.
Top performers have common traits when it comes to managing their time.
They BLOCK OUT “thinking time”. Could be for planning, goal setting, or reviewing their 20% of activities that are generating 80% of their results.
Some companies actually structure this into their employee’s week. Google is famous for allowing their employees to spend 20% of their week on discretionary activity. You want innovation; you need to allow time for it.
They match the most important activities at a time of day when their energy is highest.
- Morning people don’t schedule critical, high mental energy activities at 7pm.
The “big goals” are broken down into smaller steps. Those smaller steps have deadlines.
How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. If you want to start eating it, give yourself a series of deadlines.
Excellence and learning from other’s go hand and hand.
To learn about other people’s habits, you need to get in the rhythm of asking solid questions that help YOU learn things that will make a difference in your results.
Ask enough different people great questions and you will see some themes emerge. Some starters….
- How do they structure their day? Their week? Their month?
- What % of their deadlines fall into bucket #1 vs #2?
- Is their planning methodical or random?
- Do they consider themselves organized or not? How do they define “organization?”
You will likely find elements that extend beyond my big 3 common elements of block out, matching energy, and breaking down.
I would love to hear what you learn or see as other common traits of effective time management….drop me a comment at the bottom of post!
Image Credit & A Great Resource for Time Management: