Nobody manages time. We all know that we manage ourselves in relation to time or hours available.

Most of my clients have some system of “time management” in place. I implemented a very simple approach. It has only two categories: relations and results.

Recently I had a discussion with a client about her use of her paper diary supplemented by a table on Excel. She now contemplates a move to Google Calendar or to MS Outlook.

Four levels

Four levels of “time management” have been developed throughout the years:

  • The first level: to-do lists and notes with which we try to get some order into what has to be done.
  • The second level: the use of diaries/calendars. Here we not only try to cope with the immediate. We also attempt to look ahead, to also schedule future events and tasks. Some of us buy impressive planning diaries while others use Outlook’s or Google’s calendars. Many of us have learned to synchronize our laptops and our business cellular/mobile phone calendars. Thus we create the ability to alter our appointments or add some while on the move. We are no longer office-bound. We are agile. Our company is where we are.
  • The third level: adding important goals and prioritisation. We have specific plans and wish to accomplish certain goals which will grow our business. We use our calendars to assist us, insert important must-achieve goals on specific days and set electronic reminders.Many people, however, are not able to cope with this fairly detailed approach. Some say it takes the spontaneity out of work. Of course, the real culprit is back-to-back appointments with people and a scarcity of appointments with goals. Too many appointments with people crowd out hours which should be spent on working on goals and projects. An unbalanced business calendar leads to a need for doing work after hours – and to a neglect of other roles such as being a spouse, a parent or a friend.
  • The fourth level: the human dimension. We manage ourselves. Rather than focusing on tasks and on the use of time, we focus on building relationships and on accomplishing results. From a business point of view, I believe clients ought to be uppermost in one’s thoughts and all results should directly or indirectly relate to value which we create for clients. Be client-centric.

Relations & results

You would still incorporate one goal per day, a task here and there but the mental departure point is different. A paradigm shift in thinking about your calendar provides astonishing relief.

Start each week and day with two questions:

  1. Which relationships require my attention? And do not only think of business relationships. Also insert your loved ones/family and friends in your calendar.
  2. Which goals must I enter and turn into results in order to build my business?

Blue & Red

Think blue and red. Appointments with people get a blue fill-in. Appointments with important goals leading to results are in red. Maintain a balance.

Do not over plan. Two blue entries and one red entry per day are sufficient. Leave lots of space for all the other tasks which normally fill your day, many of which do not need to find their way onto your calendar at all.

Think relations and results.

Try it.