Why I Manage Activity, Not Time

I’m not a fan of “time management”.  I’ve found that it doesn’t work for me – especially as an entrepreneur.  If I tell myself – “I’m going to do [_________] activity for the next half hour” – I’m rarely that effective.

Here is why:  There are too many things, outside of my control, that  come up in that allocated half hour.  I will get phone calls that I wasn’t expecting.  I will remember something that I needed to do (that I conveniently convince myself is more pressing for that moment).  I will hear the “ting” of my iPhone indicating a new email.  I very often look at the email.  This breaks my momentum.  I can get easily distracted.  Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and ESPN.com are too easy to click on.  The distraction becomes even greater if that “thing” that I have told myself I am going to do is scary (like prospecting calls).

I once did an experiment on myself.  I had a stopwatch and I timed, throughout the day, the amount of time that I was actually engaged in the “activity” that I had allocated for a particular time chunk.

The Results Were Embarrassing.

I realized that, although I had “allocated” certain chunks of time for activities in my business, I was spending less than half of the time actually performing the activity.  The rest of the time was spent either getting disrupted (by calls, emails, etc) or by my own distractions (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc).

Since I didn’t like the results I was getting, I decided to change.  I started to focus on activities, not  time.  Time was a crutch.  If I got distracted, or disrupted, oh well, I’d always have tomorrow. When I focused instead on getting specific activities done each day (regardless of when they happened) I was forced to make myself accountable.  I no longer had the crutch

A habit that I created was to sit down, at my desk, at the beginning of each day.  I would take out a piece of ordinary paper, and write a list of the things that I wanted to do to build my business.  These included both routine activities, meetings, but also activities like lead generation, business development, etc.  Then I got into the habit of forcing myself to complete the activities.  My main focus would be on each day actually getting stuff done.  The activities became more important than the time.  As a result I couldn’t deceive myself.  Either I did the activities or I didn’t.  Many days I had to work late to get the activities done.  But I was honest with myself.

I was not pretending that I was working by making a schedule.  Either I did the work, or I didn’t. 

If you are self-employed, and even more particularly, if you work from home, you have to learn to GET STUFF DONE.  If you are anything like me (and I have found that many people are), then learning to manage your activity each day will make you more productive, and will help you to get results.


One comment on “Why I Manage Activity, Not Time”
  1. mandalagord says:

    Love it. I’m the same way. I now focus on “Task” management instead of “Time” management. Thanks for this!

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