Command Your Time (Prep Week Day 4 of 5)

“It took longer than I thought.”

This is the sentence I am never allowed to say to my wife again. Back when I was a student, and we were dating, I was terrible at time management. Terrible. We’d go days and weeks without seeing each other because I was always working. I’d show up late after promising I would be somewhere at a certain time, and I’d always give the same weak excuse:

“It took longer than I thought.”

The truth is that you decide how much time you give everything.Even if you aren’t deciding on purpose (my problem in the old days). That’s why this week of #IntentionalPrep has focused on budgeting your time.

So how long does a task get? 3 factors:

  1. Priority
  2. Desired Level of Quality
  3. Current Skill Level

Priority

The more important something is, the more willing you should be to give it a larger share of your time. I’m willing to spend more time writing an email to my boss than a friend because it is much more important to me to communicate effectively with my boss.

Desired Level of Quality

I can spend 3 minutes or 30 on that email. Clearly, the thoughtfulness, clarity, etc will be better in the 30-minute email. But was it needed? Maybe a 2-minute conversation would have been better? This consideration determines what “good enough” means. My goal is to identify “good enough” before I start something and then stop working on it when I get there.

Current Skill Level

Your ability to produce work of a given quality in a specified amount of time depends on your current skill level. It takes me a LOT longer to score 100 points on a basketball court than it does for LeBron James: that’s why he will always beat me in a one on one game. This consideration should encourage you to scale the time you give tasks based on your ability. I know I can send a quick message in a minute, but I also know it’ll take me a half hour to email my boss anything important.

That’s it.

The beauty is that you can adjust. If you didn’t hit the desired Level of Quality, it’s because your current skill level doesn’t support completing the task in the time you gave it. Now you have a decision: stop working at the current state, or decide which other task you’re going to drop so that you can improve the result of this one.

That’s how time budgets work. Need help? Send me a DM and I’d be happy to chat!

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