A Lesson in Time Management & Prioritization From a Month of Pain & Suffering

OK, a little dramatic, but it sure felt that way! And I have an extremely high pain tolerance, so I can assure you, my entry into 2013 was most unpleasant. Now, since I always seek out the silver linings & lessons, I have some insights to share with you. Because, hey- you’ve gotta make it all worth something besides lost whiny time, right?

Like for example- After an hour of digging through every tissue & food item I’d used in 3 days of garbage to find my lost keys, I was grateful my sinus infection had stolen my sense of smell.

The grander gratefulness & lesson I share now however, is the realization that I have more time than I thought. LOADS. And I know you do too. It’s how we manage it. Isn’t that exciting!

Most days I work from early am into the wee hours (yes, that’s got to stop). But that’s the life of an early stage entrepreneur. What the last 5 weeks have reminded me is that I need to recalibrate on time management and that the expectations I have of myself are ridiculous. Sound familiar?

Where does this renewed awareness come from?

In short, after 3 weeks of painful surgery recovery, I was met with the worst sinus infection in the history of the world (yeah, I know, but that’s how it felt) the week following my return to near normalcy. During this time which included holidays, a move & lawsuit dealings (I’m the good guy), priorities shifted by force & I had many days of accomplishing big fat 0 because I simply couldn’t function. As a solo business owner, this is living hell. I’m sure many of you can relate.

I had to cancel client appointments.
I forgot stuff.
I couldn’t bear sound or the light of my laptop or iPhone. (Turned them both off, guess what, I lived!)
Some emails went unanswered for 48 hours.
Normally such things are completely unacceptable to me.

My fear sense kicks in – OMG my business will fail if I’m in this condition another day!

Well, I am not writing this blog from a box so that didn’t happen. I did, however, have a big light bulb smack me in the head. A bulb that’s always there, but turns off every now & again. So I write this in hopes it may turn others back on without the smack.

After 5 weeks of functioning at around 10-30% of my normal productivity, no client has left me, they don’t hate me for taking too long (my definition) to email them back. I actually even got a few more because they were still referring me.

When our life is uprooted, our prioritization skills go into an auto-pilot mode. You do only what you absolutely must to persist. Our instinct to protect & nurture ourselves or another, automatically takes priority over things we often feel compelled to do but aren’t as important. That, or simply a physical inability to do anything but just be still…

What if our prioritization practice always had an emergency mode? If you knew that for the next few weeks, you only had 30 minutes to be productive in a day, and then you’d shut down, what would you do? What are those income producing activities that absolutely must happen, to no exception?

What distractions would you resist as if they were intruders in your home to get that list done?

That’s your A list.

Then list everything else in similar chunks, those are your B, C, and on lists.

Now, time-block your schedule around these prioritization categories. I’m not saying don’t do B & C. Rather, it’s about focusing over multi-tasking. It’s about high payoff vs busy work.

Solely focus on “A“ without thinking about B or C until you are cleared for it. Block the intruders! You’ll find you have a ton more time for B & C when you get there. And, for YOU!

Oh yeah, and turn the damn TV off! When I hear someone say “I just don’t have time for “insert more income producing or health boosting activity here”!” And they’ve just told me about how great the 5 different TV series’ they watch every night are, I want to smack a person, and not with a light bulb. Reality check (not show) below…

“We need to focus. The average American watches 4 hours of TV per day. Over your lifetime that equates to 13 years, people! The cost to you is over $2 Million in lost wages. And if that money were invested, a way greater sum.” ~ Brendon Burchard

Share in the comments your tips for time management and prioritization, and finding your YOU time!

1. photo credit: demandaj via photopin cc 2. photo credit: inju via photopin cc