Contact theSOPAbout theSOPSupport theSOPWritersEditorsManaging Editors
theSOP logo
Published:July 30th, 2009 21:39 EST
Getting Things Done - Or...How to Be a Self-Starter

Getting Things Done - Or...How to Be a Self-Starter

By Dan Goldberg

Do you use $50.00 time to work on $10.00 tasks?

Are you overburdened and under stress?

Do you tend to let things go until the last minute?


If you answered yes to any or all of the big three above, then brother or sister you`ve got a serious schedule management problem.


What`s your time worth? How much of this non-renewable resource are you wasting? Why can`t you get things in order and done?


Focus, focus, focus, should be the businesspersons` mantra just like, Location, location, location " the famous Albert M. Greenfield quote (yep, that`s who said it, another Philadelphian!), is to Real Estate.


You of course may be saying as you read this, Easy for him to say ", right?

Perhaps. But it`s not that difficult when you think about it.

It`s all about breaking things down into priorities within your schedule. As, I`ve mentioned before in my articles, you really can`t manage time. It`s never going to be now again. Time will pass no matter what you do. But you certainly can prepare for the passage of time by scheduling yourself properly.

Therefore, the term I like to use is Schedule Management ".


Think about what you do each day and how productive you are. How many times have you heard someone, including yourself, say, I`m swamped with work, I can`t seem to get to the bottom of the pile. The more I do the more there is to do. I don`t have time for anything else. "


Fact is you must take an inventory of your time. You can start your inventory by breaking your salary, draw, yearly commissions, or your realistic yearly income goals, into hourly amounts. Divide your yearly total by fifty-two, then divide that weekly amount by the number of hours (or estimated number of hours) you work each week. This will give you a monetary reference point as to what your hourly business time is worth.


Next make a list of your current daily activities. The easiest way to do this is to make a time log sheet broken up into hourly, or half hourly segments. List the time, (6:00 AM, 7:00 AM, etc.) down the left hand side of the paper. Draw horizontal lines under each time designation across the sheet. At the top of the sheet put two headlines side-by-side. On the left write How I Spent My Time " and on the right write Time Wasted And Why ". Then draw a vertical line between the two headlines to the bottom of the sheet. You now have you time log. With the sheet close at hand keep a running diary of your day. Do this for a week. You`ll soon be able to see how you`ve really spent your week.


Your next step is to go back to the monetary breakdown and gauge:

  1. How much time you`ve wasted and what the cost was.
  2. How many activities weren`t worth your time (even though you don`t consider them time wasted activities).
  3. Which activities you or anyone shouldn`t be doing at all.
  4. Which activities should be passed on or delegated to others.


Thoroughly and realistically analyze your week. Then make a list of the worthwhile and non-worthwhile activities that you perform. The easiest way to determine any activity`s worth is to break down your work into activities that produce high profits and benefits and activities that produce low profits and benefits. List them side-by-side on a sheet of paper. Again, on the left side your headline will be the High Profit And Benefit Activities and on the left side your headline will be Low Profit And Benefit Activities. Draw a vertical line between the two all the way down the page. You can do it on your computer, however make sure that you print it out or transfer it onto paper because you`ll need to refer to it constantly in order to monitor yourself and if you`re on the computer doing tasks, it may be a bit difficult.


Now compare your High and Low Profits list with your weekly time log. Don`t be surprised if you find the old 80/20 rule applies here. You`ve probably spent twenty percent of your time on the activities that brought you eighty percent of your business! Interesting. Think of the profits and additional business you can get by managing your schedule better.


You`re on your way to being less over burdened and stressed!. By working only on those things that are high profit and benefit oriented you`ll be able to see more effective and efficient results.


I know some of you are saying, But my boss or my partners are always throwing crazy tasks at me! " Well I`ve just given you your retort to them. Show them your lists. It doesn`t take a rocket scientist to understand them. And who in their right capitalist mind would take you off more profitable and beneficial activities to work on less profitable and beneficial activities.


Ok, now that you`ve prioritized your activities and hopefully created less busy work` and stress for yourself, how are you going to make sure you do the tasks you`ve now outlined?


Big question for all you procrastinators! Answer, lists, again!!

Keep that High Profit list close at hand for a reference. But what you have to do now is to make daily priority lists based on the High Profit list. Every evening list the tasks that must get done the next day on a sheet of paper. Put that sheet on a place that you will certainly see it the next morning (your computer keyboard, your telephone keypad, etc.). Once these tasks are staring you in the face something in your brain kicks in that says, You must address these tasks and cross them off as you do them ". As you begin to complete the tasks you will begin to experience the satisfaction of crossing them off the list. Sounds simple, even ridiculous, however it works! Every morning you`ll start to look at the tasks you laid out the evening before and mentally organize yourself, in addition to the physical activity of transferring some of the activities to your Palm or Day Runner type organizers. And if you don`t have either, get one!


The lists keep you accountable and give you the impetus to be a self-starter. However, if you`re really good at procrastinating you may want to bring in a second person to monitor you, your lists and your progress until you can get off the training wheels and ride the bike " on your own.


Aren`t we all in business to get things done? Doesn`t every one of us want to be more effective, efficient and profitable? Isn`t part of our goals to also be less stressed and have some free " time to enjoy the fruits of our labors? Organizing ourselves, creating lists and monitoring ourselves can enable us to grow, build and create a business and personal life the any self-starter can be proud of!