Time Management

DFN: Good article about the importance of time management skills.

Better time management will help maximize your job search
Sunday, January 24, 2010
Last updated: Sunday January 24, 2010, 10:38 AM
BY ELI AMDUR

If you had eight hours in the U.S. Mint, and could take home all the five-dollar bills you could count, how much time would you take for lunch? (If you have an answer other than the only obvious one, you can stop reading here; the rest of this isn’t going to make sense.)

Time management is critical to your job search, so let’s talk about using time wisely and efficiently.

Funny thing about time: It’s a gift we all get every day and we all receive exactly the same amount of it but, somehow or another, some of us use it much better than others. Although it’s renewable daily, time is also your only irreplaceable asset. Lose any other asset, and you can replace it. Waste a minute, though, and it’s gone — along with everything you could have done in it. You can’t recycle wasted time.

That said, today I offer one method for managing your time as you seek your next job. And, by the way, this advice comes not from a career coach who’s so "wise" (me), but from a guy who was a job candidate a few too many times in his career (me). Will Rogers said, "Good judgment comes from experience, and most of that comes from bad judgment." In other words, I had enough opportunities to learn on my own.

And I learned this: More important than how you spend your time is how you use it, and if you want to make good use of your time, prioritize; the rest becomes very clear very fast.

However, before you start deciding on your priorities, you need places for them. Structure each day into four two-hour work periods — let’s say 8:00 to 10:00, 10:30 to 12:30, 1:00 to 3:00, and 3:30 to 5:30. The half hours in between are for breaks (coffee, lunch, exercise, meditation, or whatever), which must be kept sacrosanct. It’s the balance thing.

The logic behind this is that even the largest problems are easier to solve if they’re reduced to smaller, manageable parts. Look at General Dwight Eisenhower’s plans for the D-Day invasion, the largest military operation in history, which was the beginning of the end of World War II. Talk about a large problem! This one invasion took place on five beaches, each with dozens of landing points, including air and sea components. By the time this whole thing was broken down to its most finite parts, there were hundreds of landing points. I don’t mean to make D-Day sound simple, but it’s a great example of this technique.

You’ve got your time slots, and certain activities fit naturally in certain slots. Your cold calls to executives of targeted firms, for example, are done in the first slot. Follow-up letters or company research is a good second-slot activity.

Face-to-face meetings, networking meetings, attendance at workshops or classes, return calls, and every other activity get slotted in as you deem appropriate, but the point is simple: by creating these short work periods, you must — if you want to meet your schedule — get these things done before moving on to other tasks. That’s not to say you shouldn’t be flexible (indeed you should) or that there won’t be uncompleted tasks (indeed there will), but making yourself meet tight deadlines is the surest way to do exactly that. In this method, you have four deadlines each day, all of which become success stories when met. Think of it: four objectives (maybe more) met each day. This will almost automatically help you prioritize your tasks.

Beyond that, here are three extremely important complementary rules you should follow. First, always make your "to do" lists the night before. Waiting until morning makes writing a "to do" list an activity, not a list of activities. Doing it the night before lets you review the day’s progress, assign tasks for the next day, and then internalize and think about them overnight. Fill the last 15 minutes of your fourth time slot by writing tomorrow’s "to do" list.

Second, get up early every day — in fact, earlier than you did when you were working. It’s the discipline thing. Do your exercise, reading, or meditation, or whatever you need to prepare for the game — and now you’re ready to execute. Your early morning prep is not your first time-slot activity. It gets you set mentally, physically and emotionally for your day.

Third, once you’re done at 5:30, you’re done. You’ve put in a long and, hopefully, productive day. Now it’s time for renewal: rest, diversion (movie, book, music, exercise), dinner, and then a good night’s sleep. The only acceptable job-search activity after 5:30 would be something like a networking group meeting. In other words, overworking creates stress, just what you don’t need.

Now, let’s get back to the U.S. Mint for a second. I’ll bet that with a few well-placed breaks, I’ll still count more bills by the end of the day than someone who plowed straight through. Well-managed time is well-organized time, and that includes your needed pit stops.

Just remember: At any given moment in time you are creating the next moment, but the success of the next one depends on the success of the one you’re in.

I promise you you’ll feel better about your job search if you organize and manage your time well. Trust me; I’ve had enough chances to find out.

Career Coach Eli Amdur conducts workshops and one-on-one coaching sessions in career planning, career-skills development, résumés, interviewing and communication. He is also an adjunct professor of two graduate-level leadership courses at Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU). He may be reached by phone at 201-357-5844, via e-mail at eli.amdur, or through his Web site at www.amdurcoaching.com.

If you had eight hours in the U.S. Mint, and could take home all the five-dollar bills you could count, how much time would you take for lunch? (If you have an answer other than the only obvious one, you can stop reading here; the rest of this isn’t going to make sense.)

Time management is critical to your job search, so let’s talk about using time wisely and efficiently.

Funny thing about time: It’s a gift we all get every day and we all receive exactly the same amount of it but, somehow or another, some of us use it much better than others. Although it’s renewable daily, time is also your only irreplaceable asset. Lose any other asset, and you can replace it. Waste a minute, though, and it’s gone — along with everything you could have done in it. You can’t recycle wasted time.

That said, today I offer one method for managing your time as you seek your next job. And, by the way, this advice comes not from a career coach who’s so "wise" (me), but from a guy who was a job candidate a few too many times in his career (me). Will Rogers said, "Good judgment comes from experience, and most of that comes from bad judgment." In other words, I had enough opportunities to learn on my own.

And I learned this: More important than how you spend your time is how you use it, and if you want to make good use of your time, prioritize; the rest becomes very clear very fast.

However, before you start deciding on your priorities, you need places for them. Structure each day into four two-hour work periods — let’s say 8:00 to 10:00, 10:30 to 12:30, 1:00 to 3:00, and 3:30 to 5:30. The half hours in between are for breaks (coffee, lunch, exercise, meditation, or whatever), which must be kept sacrosanct. It’s the balance thing.

The logic behind this is that even the largest problems are easier to solve if they’re reduced to smaller, manageable parts. Look at General Dwight Eisenhower’s plans for the D-Day invasion, the largest military operation in history, which was the beginning of the end of World War II. Talk about a large problem! This one invasion took place on five beaches, each with dozens of landing points, including air and sea components. By the time this whole thing was broken down to its most finite parts, there were hundreds of landing points. I don’t mean to make D-Day sound simple, but it’s a great example of this technique.

You’ve got your time slots, and certain activities fit naturally in certain slots. Your cold calls to executives of targeted firms, for example, are done in the first slot. Follow-up letters or company research is a good second-slot activity.

Face-to-face meetings, networking meetings, attendance at workshops or classes, return calls, and every other activity get slotted in as you deem appropriate, but the point is simple: by creating these short work periods, you must — if you want to meet your schedule — get these things done before moving on to other tasks. That’s not to say you shouldn’t be flexible (indeed you should) or that there won’t be uncompleted tasks (indeed there will), but making yourself meet tight deadlines is the surest way to do exactly that. In this method, you have four deadlines each day, all of which become success stories when met. Think of it: four objectives (maybe more) met each day. This will almost automatically help you prioritize your tasks.

Beyond that, here are three extremely important complementary rules you should follow. First, always make your "to do" lists the night before. Waiting until morning makes writing a "to do" list an activity, not a list of activities. Doing it the night before lets you review the day’s progress, assign tasks for the next day, and then internalize and think about them overnight. Fill the last 15 minutes of your fourth time slot by writing tomorrow’s "to do" list.

Second, get up early every day — in fact, earlier than you did when you were working. It’s the discipline thing. Do your exercise, reading, or meditation, or whatever you need to prepare for the game — and now you’re ready to execute. Your early morning prep is not your first time-slot activity. It gets you set mentally, physically and emotionally for your day.

Third, once you’re done at 5:30, you’re done. You’ve put in a long and, hopefully, productive day. Now it’s time for renewal: rest, diversion (movie, book, music, exercise), dinner, and then a good night’s sleep. The only acceptable job-search activity after 5:30 would be something like a networking group meeting. In other words, overworking creates stress, just what you don’t need.

Now, let’s get back to the U.S. Mint for a second. I’ll bet that with a few well-placed breaks, I’ll still count more bills by the end of the day than someone who plowed straight through. Well-managed time is well-organized time, and that includes your needed pit stops.

Just remember: At any given moment in time you are creating the next moment, but the success of the next one depends on the success of the one you’re in.

I promise you you’ll feel better about your job search if you organize and manage your time well. Trust me; I’ve had enough chances to find out.

Career Coach Eli Amdur conducts workshops and one-on-one coaching sessions in career planning, career-skills development, résumés, interviewing and communication. He is also an adjunct professor of two graduate-level leadership courses at Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU). He may be reached by phone at 201-357-5844, via e-mail at eli.amdur, or through his Web site at www.amdurcoaching.com.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: