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0209 PD: Manage your time like it’s your money

Karen Lee Published on 14 January 2009

It’s been said that “time is money,” but have you ever considered how much your time is worth to your dairy business?

“Time is the only commodity that matters,” said the late computer science professor Randy Pausch at one of his final lectures at Carnegie Mellon University before his untimely death to pancreatic cancer. “Very few people equate time and money, and they’re very, very equatable,” he said.

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Not only does a business invest in its employees through a salary or wage, but it also takes on additional fees for such things as heating, lighting, support staff and so forth. Pausch estimated it costs a company twice its payroll expense to maintain the number of employees hired.

“If you divide that by your hourly rate, you get some sense of what you are worth an hour,” he said.

As the dairy decision-maker you have to make tradeoffs in your business, like “Should I haul manure or hire someone else to do it?”

“Having in your head what you cost an organization an hour is really kind of a staggering thing to change your behavior,” Pausch said.

If you can free up three hours of your time and think of it in dollars – that’s a big savings.

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“So start thinking about your time and your money almost as if they are the same thing. You’ve got to manage it, and you’ve got to manage it just like you manage your money,” Pausch said.

In addition to saving money with better time management, you can also gain more control of your business.

The website www.mindtools.com offers some great advice when it comes to managing time.

“Effective time management helps you to choose what to work on and when. This is essential if you’re to achieve anything of any real worth,” the website says.

It identifies main areas of time management and suggests specific tools to use.

Setting goals
According to a Mind Tools article, “When you know where you’re going, you can then figure out what exactly needs to be done and in what order. Without proper goal setting, you’ll fritter your time away on a confusion of conflicting priorities.”

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Goal setting can sometimes be neglected because it requires time and effort to be done. However, the small amount expended now could save a lot of time later.

Mind Tools suggests five golden rules of goal setting:
1. Set goals that motivate you.
2. Set SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound).
3. Set goals in writing.
4. Make an action plan.
5. Stick with it.

Prioritizing
In order to achieve your goals, it is important to prioritize and spend your time working on what is strategically important.

Most producers have a “to-do” list, even if it’s just a list in your mind each day of what you hope to achieve.

However, without prioritizing that list, how you go about your day will be just as unstructured as your list, the website says: “To work efficiently you need to work on the most important, highest-value tasks. This way you won’t get caught scrambling to get something critical done as the deadline approaches.”

Managing interruptions
Of course, your goals and strategic list can be pushed aside in an instant when you become interrupted.

“It is widely recognized that managers get very little uninterrupted time to work on their priority tasks. There are phone calls, information requests, questions from employees and a whole host of events that crop up unexpectedly. Some do need to be dealt with immediately, but others need to be managed,” Mind Tools says.

When an interruption arises sort it with your other tasks by determining if it’s important and if it’s urgent. If it’s urgent but not important, question whether or not it truly needs to be done instead of rushing to do something that could be overlooked.

That isn’t to say some interruptions needn’t be addressed. According to the Mind Tools article, “some jobs need you to be available for people when they need help – interruption is a natural and necessary part of life. Here, do what you sensibly can to minimize it, but make sure you don’t scare people away from interrupting you when they should.”

Procrastination
Putting off tasks can get the better of even your best employee or even yourself. When the work pile gets too high it can be too daunting to try to tackle.

“Procrastination is as tempting as it is deadly. The best way to beat it is to recognize that you do indeed procrastinate. Then you need to figure out why. Perhaps you are afraid of failing? (And some people are actually afraid of success!)

“Once you know why you procrastinate then you can plan to get out of the habit. Reward yourself for getting jobs done, and remind yourself regularly of the horrible consequences of not doing those boring tasks,” Mind Tools says.

Scheduling
“Much of time management comes down to effective scheduling of your time,” according to Mind Tools. “When you know what your goals and priorities are, you then need to know how to go about creating a schedule that keeps you on track, and protects you from stress.”

As Pausch said, “Time is the only commodity that matters.” One must also realize it is a limited commodity. There are only so many hours in a day so do not schedule more than what can be feasibly accomplished each day.

In addition, be sure to leave room for interruptions and extra time for unexpected events.

“By creating a robust schedule that reflects your priorities as well as supports your personal goals, you have a winning combination: One that will allow you to control your time and keep your life in balance,” Mind Tools says.

Through implementing time-saving strategies, not only can you achieve more in a day, but you may also find yourself saving money on additional help or expenses. PD

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