Tip # 1 Squeaky Wheels
Find and destroy the things that stand between you and the things you want to accomplish. It really is a matter of not what but which ones. Productivity deals with the how part of the Power Time System. Time Management is the “what” and “when”, Productivity deals with the how, the action part.
Squeaky wheels are the tasks, jobs, and activities that we do each day. What we want to do is take the one that is causing us the most lost time; the most stress, the most anxiety, and make it our number one priority. To get ahead of the curve, to eliminate the activities in our lives that wreck havoc on us, we need to invest some time to deal with them. We find ourselves in a circle that keeps us from achieving more things in our lives than we are now.
The circle goes something like this: we are rushed, running around, not organized, and because of this, we are not getting what we want done. We get frustrated and stressed out, we make matters worse, not better.
The more stressed and rushed we are, the less we get done; its self-fulfilling prophecy. How do we break out of the cycle? We take what is in most short supply; our time, and we slowly invest it in correcting the things that cause us the most aggravation: the squeaky wheels. It makes sense to work at the things that cause us the most grief and aggravation, and work our way down from there.
How long will it take you to pick out something that is in your regular routine? What would not benefit from an infusion of time and resources? 10 minutes? Less? This is how getting production out of ourselves starts; we think and plan our way, not work our way, to getting more done in less time and with less effort and a whole pile less stress and anxiety. Nobody ever worked psychically harder at getting maximum production out of themselves and the ones around them. They thought, planned and executed better their way to accomplishing more.
The value of Power Time System is how it deals with attacking production issues and problems from the standpoint of out-thinking the problem, not trying to out work it.
Tip # 2 Time Management And Maximizing Production
Ever heard of Batman and Robin? Meet the new dynamic duo. Time Management is the “what” and the “when” of your life; Productivity is the how. Time Management is the thought process behind the action and effort of Maximizing Production. One without the other is a flawed approach to both Time Management issues as well as Production issues.
We first need to know what we want to do, and then establish a time when we want to do it. This is clearly when we are using the Power Time System to its fullest capacity. Our success is directly ties to how we decide to invest our time, what we decide to do with this precious non-renewable resource is the overpoweringly single most important influence on whether we succeed our fail. Time is the stuff life is made up of. I believe it’s critically important to come to a personal understanding of the connection between how we use our time and the results we achieve in life.
I find it useful to approach how we set up our daily routine by first dealing with the basics of pure Time Management, establishing what tasks we are going to do that day, then setting down the times when we are going to do it. Those steps follow a logical progression outlined in the Power Time System. Once they are established and Time activated into your Day Planner, we move on to the Maximizing our Production steps.
This stage takes on a different approach than establishing the “what” and “when” part of our daily Agenda. Once we have established today that we are going to, for example, work on doing the inventory for the warehouse at 10:00, when 10:00 o’clock rolls around, we start the inventory, like we have done probably a hundred times before. Where does the Maximizing our Production part come in?
It comes in at two points. The first time, at the “what” stage of the Time Management process, when we are trying to figure out where we want to invest our time. This is when we have to set aside specific blocks of time, Time Activate specific tasks into specific blocks of time. This is a way of determining, as closely as possible, exactly what we can fit into a day. What makes the grade and what does not.
It is during this process that we have to address our commitment and the value we place on getting our goals accomplished. Are we going to invest a portion of our time on addressing and dealing with the skills and tools that we will need to accomplish more than we are doing now? Increasing production, our ability to get what we want done, done, is very much an issue of investing time in finding the solutions then implementing those solutions into our daily regimes.
The second point that Maximizing Production comes into play is at the execution step. This is the thinking part of production. Are we prepared to again invest some time, in the organizing, planning, and thinking out the best possible way to do this particular task? We have to marry the action part of production with the thinking part. This requires an additional investment of time when it may be at its shortest supply.
Just some initial thoughts on how well Time Management and Maximizing Production work together to help us achieve our end objective: getting the maximum value we can out of life.
Tip # 3 Look For Repeat Offenders
90% of the leaks in your ability to get more done, with the same amount of effort you are putting out now, comes from the same faulty actions and procedures that you do day after day. Here is how to plug this leak in your production dam. To be more productive, you need to do two things differently than you are doing now: you need to get control of your time through Time Management and you need to invest some of that time in dealing with production issues you have.
If I locked you in a room, took away your cell phone and any other device you use to communicate with the outside world, and then asked you to write down 5 actions or activities that you do on a regular basis that results you are unhappy with, how long would it take you to come up with 5 things?
Production inefficiencies stem from a lack of time; we are unwilling to spend the time to fix the problems that plague us, day in and day out. What was first, the rushed environment, or the poor production? Either way, how to solve the problems is the same, either take the time to fix the problems, or continual to lose the time, day after day, because of the inefficiencies.
Time Management is a bit like taking off a bandage, you can suffer over the long haul, or you can get it over with, all at once. Let’s go back to our locked room example; you have identified 5 repeat offenders in your daily routine, 5 areas where if you invested some time, you could turn these production deficits, into pluses, very quickly.
The math is really astounding. One of the areas that you have identified as a problem is unloading trucks at your warehouse. You have identified that, if the back area of the warehouse was better organized, cleaned up, the forklift driver could move around easier and would be able to unload the trucks in half the time it now takes him. You have identified a problem area and you have also identified how to fix it, what is left is the will and the Time Management skills to Time Activate the appropriate time, manpower and resources to take it to the final step: execution.
This is where the math should scare you, and all the rest of us, into action. You unload 4 trucks a day; you lose on average, an hour from each truck in poor production because of the condition and disorder of the warehouse. That is four hours each day of lost production man hours, 20 hours a week, over 90 hours a month. What would we have to invest in man-hours to get the warehouse in shape so the forklift driver could do his job properly? The reality is, about 10 hours. How do I know? I know because that was my warehouse and that forklift driver was an employee of mine. This is a true story, a true example.
This is just a short, simple example but it points out a matrix that you will be dealing with whenever you come up against the same issue: production, or lack of it. How you deal with it will be the same; you need to be able to manage your time. Time Management principles are at play here, and you need to have the will and the tools to invest your time properly in order to properly address production concerns.
Tips # 4 Think Twice, Act Once
Even though maximizing production is an action activity, the gains are to be made through the thinking process. When you are actually doing something, you must be sure you are going to reap the maximum benefits from your action. You should be on your second mental go around on the same action. I have borrowed a saying from the carpenters; “measure twice and cut once”. The intent is to make sure of what you are doing so you only have to do the action part, the cutting part, once.
This is one of my favorite principles when it comes to production issues. It perfectly sums up where the most gains can be made, not in the action part of the process, but in the preparing, planning and organizing part of the process. Whenever something happens in the Power Time System, it gets thought over twice, once in the Time Management phase, and once in the Production phase. You have the benefit of being able to think twice on the same action, and then only do it once, hopefully right.
You are thinking about meeting with a web programmer next week, you are in the Time Management phase, deciding what will get done and when it will get done. It is in this stage that the majority of problems that could occur could be headed off by properly preparing for that meeting. This is the first opportunity that you can think your way to better production.
At some point in the Time Management process you will make the decision to set up the meeting with the web programmer and you will set the time. Once that is done, you will Time Activate the date and time of the meeting and now the second chance to prepare and get properly organized for maximum production presents itself.
For every action that you under take that action deserves an investment of our time to give us the best possible chance at successfully completing that job. It may be just a moments thought, it could be hours or days depending upon the complexity of the task, but everything we do deserves our respect and we show that in the time we spend on making sure we are prepared to do the best job possible. This is the second chance we have at thinking twice, before the action part of the process kicks in.
The Power Time System is designed to give you the opportunity to prepare yourself properly for whatever tasks and jobs you set out to do. By always operating from a position of strength, you will greatly increase and improve your chances of succeeding.
Tip # 5 The Devil Is In The Details
We have all done it. We rush in all enthused about a project. We start working on it and suddenly we get bogged down when a detail we had not anticipated crops up and derails us. There is never a job so simple that it does not warrant a second look, just to be sure. When it comes to a planning issue, this statement could not be more relevant, “He never planned to fail, he just failed to plan.“
Details are things that are not important enough to think about, until you have 5 employees standing, at a cost to you of $150.00.00 an hour, waiting for a $10.00 can of gasoline to arrive. Details are things that you can spend working out in your office, or have a $125,000.00 truck driving around all night looking for an address that does not exist. Details can grind you to a halt so fast it makes our heads spin. How do we prevent t these things from happening?
This is a slippery slope. How do you look for details, little things that can destroy our productivity, when we do not know what we are looking for? There the expected problems and then there are the unexpected ones. We deal with the expected ones by getting ahead of the curve, and we deal with the unexpected ones by not letting them be unexpected the second time.
The expected problems, details, things, we have experienced before, can be planned for and organized for this time around. If we know that every month, on the last Friday of the month, we get double the people visiting our office to place last minute orders, we learn from the previous months activities and plan extra staff on the last Friday of the month. It’s a detail that could be overlooked for the first time. After that, its just poor Time Management on our part if we get caught again being short staffed.
Tip # 6 Focus On How You Are Going To Get There
Maximizing Production is all about the physical steps you are going to take to get from where you are now to where you want to go. Every wish that you want to turn into a reality requires an investment of time, energy and resources. Maximizing your Production is about the implementation of that time, energy and resources.
The Power Time System spends a great deal of time on the steps we have to take to get from where we are now, to where we want to be. This is the crux of Time Management, investing time, in working through the steps we need to take to get to where we want to be. Simple example: you are currently working in a job you dislike, you are unhappy, you want out, how is that going to happen? How do you get from being in an unhappy place, to a place that you would like better? You have already made the Time Management decision, the “what”: you want out; you know have to make the productivity decisions, the action steps.
There is no question there is an overlap between making the “what” and “when” decisions, and then making the action, production decisions. The overlap can be so large that even I have a tough time dividing them. I am not sure that it matters if there is a division, the fact that they are closely aligned works to our advantage, as long as we are actually using the processes.
What is vitally important is that this question does get asked: “What am I going to have to do, to get from where I am now, to where I want to be?“ View this question as the bridge between your decision making process, your Time Management, and the steps that turn your goals into reality, your production activities. That is the crucial link that you have to have in order to maximize your efforts. Maximizing your efforts means getting the maximum amount of benefit out of your time, resources and efforts.
This concept ties in very heavily with your personal goal setting, as well as your Power Living Life List. When we set a goal, at some point, we need to decide to put that goal into play, invest some time and effort on the start of turning that goal, which is really only a dream or wish, into a reality. When that happens, we need to ask the same question, “What are the resources, how much time and effort will it take to move this goal from here, unrealized, to over there, realized?”
This is when reality can rear its somewhat unpleasant face. Wanting something is one thing, making it happen is something else all together. This is where the Power Living Life List plays an important role. Goals and dreams are put into your PLLL, and are pulled out when we want to take a closer look at them. We start the process to see if it’s feasible to entertain the thought to spend time, effort and resources on this particular goal. It could get immediately squashed for any number of reasons. No available time, no money, not the right time, there could be any number of reasons. The point is, it gets tossed back into your PLLL, perhaps to be brought out again when the time is better.
The Power Time System has a path that goals and dreams take in order to be realized. On that path there is a wide chasm. In order for anything you want to happen, to be achieved, you have to be able to successfully cross that chasm. You need to be sure that before you embark along that path, you ask that very important question, “how will I be able to get there, from here?”
Tip # 7 Working Small Gets The Big Picture Done
This is the key that unlocks many production puzzles. Instead of getting mesmerized and intimidated by large tasks and problems, start attacking them by doing small parts of the large picture. We all have heard this nugget, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.“ Unfortunately we seem to not take this excellent advice to heart.
I personally look at production issues as where the rubber meets the road. The Time we spend on Time Management is paramount to our success, never underestimate its importance, but once those decisions are made, we are then left with getting the job done. Once we have decided to drain the swamp, then someone has to get out there in the middle of the alligators and snakes, and all that murky black water, and get the job done. I will never say that this part of the process is more difficult than the sitting behind a desk and doing the Time Management, planning, organizing, prioritizing part, BUT I will say that it is different.
The focus of this section is on getting the job done, period. I am leaving the planning part out of it, the Time Management part out. All that I am dealing with here is that we need to get the task done. One of the best ways I know to accomplish almost anything is to be sure to start to work on it, as soon as possible, and start to chisel it down in size, as soon as possible.
The definition of what is big or small is all relative. What you think is big may not be big to some someone else, and I am not sure that really matters for this discussion. What is important is helping us get as much quality production accomplished as we can. I always approach everything I do with one thought in mind, as it pertains to the production side of things: once the decision has been made, I want to start working as soon as possible, even if it means tackling 1/10 of the project.
The single most common reason that things that we want to accomplish do not get done is that we fail to actually start the work part; we fiddle and fidget and in the end, it just never gets off the ground. Never underestimate the value of the “start” to getting something accomplished. It may seem to be an obvious statement, but nothing ever got accomplished that didn’t get started in the first place. A hidden advantage to getting something started is this, by starting something and getting a little bit accomplished, what is left is smaller now that it has been started. The mountain appears to be a bit shorter and a little less intimidating.
A 747 needs all 4 of its engines to get off the ground, but only one to stay in the air. Once we start to work on a task, we tend to gain some momentum and with this momentum, we are more likely to finish than if we had not started at all. When all of the planning and the decisions have been made to Time Activate a job, we want to shift gears and focus on accomplishing what is on our plates. The Power Time System will help you get started and when you start, will help you finish what you started.
Tip # 8 There Is Always A Better Way, Never Stop Looking For It
The day you stop looking for ways to do things better, faster and with less effort is the day you start sliding down hill. The goal of looking for a better way to do tasks helps you to accomplish what you are doing right now, better, more efficiently and in less time should never end.
The Power Time System shows you how to look at time in the light that you need to view it, as a precious non-renewable resource that holds the key to your success in life. Investing your time is a constant theme you will over and over again, how you invest your time will dictate how you proceed in life. You need to expect the same thing from your time that you expect from your money, the best possible return on your investment, you want to invest the least amount in, and get the maximum amount out.
An integral part of Time Management is this, you have to be able to take what is in short supply today, carve some of that time that you need to accomplish things today with, and invest that time in activities will be able to pay off for your down the road. That is a tough thing to do and one that takes some real commitment and a true understanding of the inherent maximizing benefits of Time Management.
Picture this; you are in the middle of one of the busiest weeks of the year for you. You own a clothing company and this is the week you have to ship out your clothes for the fashion shows in Paris. If the clothes do not get out, your whole year will be lost. During this hectic busy week, you have to start to plan for next years show, a year away. If you are a person who uses the Power Time Management System, you will be able to get through this week, as hectic as it is, and at the same time, be able to work on making next years show even better.
If we do not actively spend some of our time on trying to improve, get better at what we do and look for ways increase our skill level, we will inevitably start to slide backwards, it is unavoidable. This is where your Time Management system and your faith in it, comes to the forefront. You are the person who should ultimately be making the decisions about what you spend you time on. When you are deciding what to do with your time, you need to allocate a sufficient amount of time to the pursuit of improving and enriching yourself and those around you.
I know when we are up to our asses in alligators, it’s difficult to say, lets take a time out to re think this, but that is exactly when you have to take the time to do that. If we wait for the time when we are not busy and do not have a full plate, to look at how we do things and to work on doing them better, that time just never comes. The Power Time System shows you the ways in which you can set aside the time you need to invest in finding a better way to do things, and then to spend the time to actually do them better.
Tip # 9 Always Respect Your Work
Respecting your work means taking the time to properly prepare for it, plan how to perform it, and finally, work out the execution of it. When we start to think that certain tasks and jobs are not worthy of this kind of attention, then we can expect our results to suffer. The Power Time System works through the processes that will ensure that your work gets the respect that it deserves.
I left this concept to the end because I think it sums up best the thought process that you want to have when you think about production and how to get more done. Unfortunately it seems that we are driven by the need to get more done, accomplish more, make more money and be more successful. I am not about to get into a lecture on whether this drive for more is right or wrong, what I want to touch on is how to help us accomplish not necessarily more, but enough to get us where we want to be.
For now, here is what I want to leave you with; if you respect your work, and show that respect by preparing and planning, in advance, how you are going to perform that work, then you are going to be on the right path. The key to getting as much done as we can in a reasonable amount of time is by spending the appropriate amount of time, prior to executing that task, in preparing for it. Maximum production is not maximum sweat, its maximum thinking and planning and preparing, PRIOR to the sweat part.
We run into production problems when we show what I call a lack of respect for our work, when we just assume that we can sail through something without giving any thought to how we are actually going to do it. Just winging it is not going to get it done. Taking things for granted, not thinking through the “how” part, not at least looking for details that could trip us up, and not taking into account that there might be a better way to do it, if only you were open to this option.
Showing respect means investing time, and this means being able to control your time in the end, Time Management and self-management. We will always have more things wanting our time, than we will have time to parcel out, that is a given. With this reality facing us, we are constantly going to be in a position to have to say no many more times than we say yes. Investing time in dealing with production issues will be one of the many things vying for our time. It will be up to you to have the strength to choose respecting your work, and therefore investing time in it, instead of other seemingly equally more important tasks.
One last thought on this section. Why would I pick investing my time on dealing with production issues compared to investing it somewhere else? One of the guiding principles of the Power Time Systems is this, we want to continually invest our time in activities that will give us the greatest return on our investment, as little as needed invested, the greatest return back to us in benefits as possible. We should always be looking for places where we can invest our time and get the greatest possible benefit back to us, these situations do not fall into our laps, we have to be on the lookout for them at all times.