Can you give a minute-by-minute, or even an hour-by-hour, account of how you spent the day? How much of your time was used wisely and productively? More important, how much of your time today was wasted?
Everyone has 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Throw in an extra 24 hours in a leap year. So you have a gift of 1,440 minutes in the 24-hour day. I call it the greatest gift of all. When you realize that the time you have is neither greater nor less than that of others, the question then is not how much time you have for doing things but how you spend that time.
Success and productivity boils down to ranking those 1,440 minutes by priority. First things first. Tasks related to business or other work activities receive high priority, in order of their importance. Of course, if you give a task a No. 1 priority, don’t give another task the same rank. Keeping a sharp focus on what you need to do is an important step in mastering your way to the top. I urge people who are out to reach the top to follow these principles:
1. Recognize the value of time. It is the most precious gift. Make every minute count.
2. Take control of the time allotted to you. Use your allotted time wisely and productively. Stay on top of things. That means staying on top of time.
3. Establish priorities. Go over your tasks. List what should be done at the beginning of the day and what can be handled at the end.
4. Learn to delegate carefully. Free yourself to do what are your primary responsibilities and pass on other tasks to assistants. Make sure you delegate to top-notch people.
5. Don’t procrastinate. Procrastination is the thief of time. Never put off until tomorrow what you should be doing today.
Once you’ve spent that 1,440 minutes, it’s gone. You can’t spend it anymore. Think of yesterday as a cancelled check; think of tomorrow as a promissory note — time you’ve got coming to you, so spend your time wisely. Get to work at once on managing your time in the most effective manner.