Habits for Effectiveness

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There are some books that I could and often times do read many times because they add so much value to me. The book by Peter Drucker titled The Effective Executive is one such type of book that I re-read often.

In The Effective Executive Drucker argues that effectiveness is a skill that can be learned. Effectiveness is not style or personality, rather a set of practices. These practices can be picked up, just like riding a bike. No one is born learning to ride a bike, but through practice and perseverance its a skill that can be picked up by all. Drucker notes that all effective executives had to learn to be effective and had to practice effectiveness until it became a habit.

The most important five habits of effectiveness are discussed in his book but I will take one of those here and share. This is one that I work with my coaching students on often.

1. Effective executives know where their time goes.

“Effective executives know where their time goes. They work systematically at managing the little of their time that can be brought under their control.” – Peter Drucker

The first step to becoming effective is to know how we spend our time. We become effective by valuing and managing our time. Time is our limited resource, not money, people or ideas, but time. We can choose to spend our time in a way that gets results or we can waste it away. One thing with time is that it can never be regained. Once it is used it is gone.

“Until we can manage time, we can manage nothing else.“ – Peter Drucker
Effective executives don’t start planing without first understanding how their time is being spent. Understanding how executives spend their time helps to know where to cut the amount to unproductive activities and demands of their time.

Effective leaders carefully and continuously analyse and manage how they spend their time. Time is a scarce resource and unless this resource is effectively managed nothing else can be effectively managed. The following four steps offer an approach to help getting your time under control:

1. Track how you are actually spending your time. It’s not important what method you use, whither it is by pen and paper, or an app for your phone, the important aspect is understanding how your time is being invested. No one knows where their time really goes until they write it down. What do you do that consumes your time without producing results? Time is often wasted in the following ways:

* Lack of planning
* Lack of a system to deal with reoccurring issues
* Too many meetings and unnecessary discussions
* Lack of information or information is in the wrong format
* Over staffing causing things to take longer than is necessary

2. Eliminate those activities that are not delivering results, those things that do not need to be done by you (Pareto Principle is what I will get into here with my protoges) and are merely wasting your time.

3. Delegate those tasks on your time journal that can be done better by someone else.John Maxwell talks about the Law of the Lid. Anything that you may not be a 6+ in find someone else who is.

4. Consolidate time by chunking segments of uninterrupted time to work on important tasks that cannot be done by anyone else.

Effective Leaders know where there time goes and work to make sure their time is spent in their top priorities.

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