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Entries in scheduling (14)


An Important Word For Successful Ringmasters

After a recent Juggling Elephants training program, a participant said, “Your focus on being a good ringmaster is like the difference between ‘have and make.’” With my curiosity aroused, I said, “How so?” She continued. “Think about the phrase ‘Have a great day’ versus ‘Make it a great day.’ One implies taking things as they come to you while the other suggests a need to take more responsibility in lining up your acts to accomplish your purpose.” What a superb insight!

When I pondered her perspective, I had to laugh at how often I hear the word “have” versus “make.” While I am sure people aren’t encouraging us to be passive when they say things like, “Have a great trip” or “I hope you have a great weekend,” those comments should be a quick reminder to all of us that we are the ringmasters of our circus and we have to line up the right acts to get the standing ovations we want from our performance.

So the next time you catch yourself saying or thinking, “I hope I have…” change “have” to “make”… it could just MAKE all the difference in your circus today!


Your Waistline Proves It Too

Charles Courtemanche, a researcher at the University of North Carolina, found that a rise in gas prices contributes to a shrinking waistline. The primary reasons-people walk more, and eating out less because they have less expendable income for such things.
In the same way, we have to realize that our limited time and energy resources require us to make the best choices of how we spend them. The higher the cost, the more critical it becomes that we make the right choice. In fact, Courtemanche theorizes that 8% of the rise in obesity between 1979 and 2004 can be contributed to a drop in real gas prices. When the cost of something is low, we aren't as intentional in how we use it.
As you plan your lineup today, reflect more intensely on the cost of not using your time and energy resources well. You just might find yourself "starving" some of those less important things so you can focus on the ones that will really "feed" your purpose.


Back to the Basics

Some days, weeks, months seem to be busier than others. For instance, if you add to an already full schedule a major project at work or an number of additional acts in your relationship ring, your life can seem overwhelming. It is at times like these that you need to be reminded of the importance of the basics of time management. Consider a few key strategies to help you through the busy season:

  • You can't "juggle elephants". You have to pick and choose. Prioritize those "acts" that are most important and make sure that they get done first. Let the less important things slide or not get done

  • Remove distractions so that you can focus. It might take turning off the phone and closing the door to your office to allow you the time you need to accomplish your tasks

  • Write things down. When your schedule is full and maybe your brain is too, it is easy to forget commitments, new ideas or to pick up a gallon of milk on your way home. Write things down and refer to the list often so things don't fall through the cracks

  • Have a plan. Consider this thought by Victor Hugo, "Where no plan is laid, where the disposal of time is surrendered merely to the chance of incident, chaos will soon reign." When you are overwhelmed, the last thing you need is more chaos. Take 15 minutes each day to plan what your are going to get done and then execute on that plan.

Managing your time is always a good idea. But when your managing a busier than normal "3 ring circus" it becomes a critical survival skill.


"Time" Pennies May Be Costing You Dollars

In the February issue of Fast Company Magazine, the Numerology article states that the cost to produce a penny is 1.6 cents. Seems harmless enough, right? Maybe, until you read the next sentence which says the US Mint lost over 19.8 million dollars last year producing the pennies. That's a number that will get your attention!

Many of us are guilty of a similar dilemma in the use of our time on a daily basis. We reason that 3-5 minutes lost per day isn't that much. And flipping through TV channels or aimlessly web surfing for 30 minutes a day doesn't impact our ability to get other "more important" things done. But start allowing the numbers to accumulate over a period of time and things look quite different.

Let's look at what 5 minutes per day of "lost time" looks like:
In a week: 35 minutes
In a month: 150 minutes (2 hours 30 minutes)
In a year: 1825 minutes (Over 30 hours!)

Think about that the next time you are tempted to just aimlessly pass the time away (unless of course you need an intermission). Here are a few suggestions on how to make better use of that seemingly insignificant amount of time:

  • Have articles (electronic or hardcopy) you could read in 5 minutes or less
  • Review your task list and make appropriate changes and updates
  • Do some quick strategic planning by asking yourself questions like, "What is the one thing I need to work on tomorrow that would make the biggest difference?" "What are 3 things that will require more of my attention in 1-3 months? What could I do to prepare now to better address those issues/items?"

Most importantly, don't discount the "change" a few minutes well-spent could make for your circus.


A Double Take To-Do List

Spending 10-15 minutes to formally plan your day is a great tool for focusing on what matters most to you. But there is nothing worse than making a list of 30 things to do and then finding at the end of the day that you only had time for 10.

Consider a double review of your to-do list. Start with brainstorming/reviewing your list of things to do. Now, prioritize the list in order of those things that have to get done first – those things that are most important. Once prioritized, place your task list next to a list of the hours in the day (you can make a list of the hours of the day on a piece of paper, use a planner that lists the hours of the day, the Calendar in Outlook, etc.). Starting with your first task, block out when you are going to do that task on your calendar and how long it will take. Then continue down your task list blocking out times when you are going to accomplish each task. Easy enough?

Some tasks are simple and only take a few minutes (you can list multiple tasks in a block of time). Some tasks are more complex and you might only be able to block out a small portion of time to work on the task and come back to it tomorrow (e.g. Work on next years budget that is due next week). What you might initially find is that about half way down your list you have run out of time in the day to get all of your tasks done. That is OK! As long as you truly prioritize your list, you will have planned for the most important things that you need to get done today.

With the remaining tasks that you don't have time today for you can forward them on to tomorrow or another day. You can also consider deleting the unimportant tasks and delegating those items that someone else can help you with.

Two more tips: Tip #1; remember to build in some gaps in your schedule for interruptions and the unforeseen. If you get behind in your day and your schedule is too full, there is no catching up unless you have a buffer or two built into your plan. Tip #2; to keep on schedule, try setting the alarm on your cell phone, wrist watch or buy an "egg timer" that you can set for the amount of time that you have allotted to focus on your task. When the alarm rings, it is time to move on. If you can't move on, then consider how your schedule will have to change and what won't get done as a result.

At first this exercise seems like a hassle and that it is time consuming. But, if you will try it for a week you will find that you have become better at estimating your time and what you can realistically accomplish in a day. You will also become more focused on your scheduled tasks because you have blocked out time for them.