I recently went to a workshop on how to become the most efficient person that you could be. It was a great experience because it taught me some very important things about how to manage your time productively. Time is the most value currency in our lifetimes. You have heard the expression time is money and I just want to restate how much of an understatement that really is. Benjamin Franklin was even quoted as saying “Time is the stuff life is made of.” The man who gave this workshop on efficiency, named Joel Oppenheimer, really opened my eyes on just how valuable time really is. He talked to us about how time is such a unique resource in the fact that it can’t be accumulated, stored, or replaced. It is always being spent at a constant rate of 60 seconds per minute and everything that you do or could hope to achieve has a certain cost of time.
It is common knowledge that life isn’t fair and every human isn’t born on an equal playing field. For a financial standpoint, some people are born with a silver spoon while others are born with just the clothes on their backs (i.e. nothing). Similarly, not everyone is given the same amount of time here on earth. That’s the problem with time; we never know when it is going to end. That’s why it is so important to make sure that you get everything that you want to get done within the unpredictable amount of time allotted to you. In order to do this you need to know exactly what you want to achieve. This leads me to my next point about goal setting. One of the greatest tips Joel told me was to write my goals down. He presented us some statistics from a study that discovered everyday people like you and I would only follow through with their New Year’s resolution at a rate of 4% while those who recorded their resolutions into a journal would have a completion rate of 49%.
It isn’t just good enough to have a goal though, as you must also develop S.M.A.R.T. goals. S.M.A.R.T. stands for Specific, Measurable, Action-Oriented, Realistic, and Timing. Specific is pretty self-explanatory. Your goals need to be explicitly clear so that you obviously know what you are aiming for. Measurable factors into your goals by making sure that you can clearly see the progress you’ve made so far and can see at the end of the goal how you have improved or reached that goal in a particular way. Action-Oriented refers to including verbs into the wording of your goals to make sure that you actually complete tasks to accomplish your goals. Talk is cheap and actions speak louder than words. You also need to be realistic when constructing your goals to make sure that your goals are attainable within a reasonable amount of time and effort. Finally and most importantly is timing. You need to make sure that your goals have deadlines in order to push you towards completing them. Goals without deadlines are essentially just dreams with no hope of actually making them a reality.
Now that you’ve made your S.M.A.R.T. goals it is important to prioritize the goals you’ve made. After going to this talk I have started constructing lists of goals that I would like to achieve every week starting Monday morning. Some of my goals have continued to appear over multiple weeks because they are important to me and I really hope I achieve them someday. For instance, my ultimate goal in life is to make my own design consulting firm and innovation incubator. I may not have the resources or connections to do such a thing yet but it remains one of my ultimate goals and that doesn’t mean that I can’t do things every week to make my goal more achievable. For instance, I have started to create business plans and will soon try to find funding for my company. Of course goals will vary from person to person but this is where you must decide for yourself what you consider important and what you want to achieve in your own life. Some goals, like my company, are long term but others can be accomplished in one day. Priorities are very important because they allow you to make sure you are spending your limited resources like time and money on things that will help you reach your goals based on order of importance. The ultimate reason why we have goals is to make ourselves happy because it feels good when we get something that matters to us done. Using the 24 hours we have each day, you need to make sure you budget your time and money effective in order to be more productive. The more productive you are the more you can get done thus the happier you will be.