Fighting Time!

Do you feel you’re in a constant battle with time? Does time seem to be winning, no matter which technology, process, and system one uses? While the amount of time in a day, week and year remains the same, people are attempting to fit more commitments into the same finite time spans. After many years of observing and working with senior management, I have found a fundamental flaw in how they approach time. This flaw causes significant bottlenecks in their companies. Worse, their poor leadership regarding time strategies causes others to have problems with time.

An example of the above is a company that never has time to create clear business plans. There are no clear specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-based (SMART) goals for the overall organization and for each executive. As a result, the organization spends far more time than necessary reconciling their lack of integration and problems.

Typically this company has positions open for a year or more for lack of time to establish and perfect their hiring process. Consequently, current employees work significant overtime, mistakes in product development occur, sales returns happen, company reputation is damaged, employee productivity decreases, and people burn out. Lacking the training or the experience to hire well, they often take much longer than necessary to get good candidates and attract a smaller pool of good candidates than they should and could. Once it is time to choose a candidate, their process is so broken they fail to select an “A” player for the position. For a year, I suggested a solution to this problem that would involve approximately ½ a day of training for the management team and the head of human resources. The answer, “we do not have time” has come up each time. So goes the vicious circle.

Companies must narrow priorities to get to the root of “what is eating time to begin with.” CEOs have to be the most effective when it comes to setting priorities for themselves and the organization. When they fail, they become a huge bottleneck for the rest of the organization. Lack of prioritization and clarity at the top will kill your organization. This same discipline of prioritization has to be developed and aligned at every level. Without it, effective use of time is destroyed.

Here is a set of questions to ask yourself:

  • What are the 5 most important goals of my company, and which is the top 1 of those 5?
  • What are the 5 most important tasks I can do today to help move those 5 most important goals forward?
  • Am I working on those 5 tasks?
  • What are you doing that does not relate, and how can you stop immediately?
  • What can you do to help accelerate the top 5 goals of the company?
  • If you have more than 5 priorities, who can help you whittle that list down to no more than 5? Or how can you delay some of the other goals so that there are no more than 5 on your plate now.
  • What is your number 1 priority now? How can you accelerate its completion?

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