Ever wished you could stop time? How about rewind time? Yep, you’ve had those thoughts. Your secret is safe with me.
The truth is our world spins around the sun in a cycle of light and dark we call days and nights. It's way beyond our control. Above our pay-grade as the saying goes. So, why do we think we can manage time?
A co-worker recommended a book written by Todd Duncan called Time Traps. Let me preface something right now, I haven’t read the whole book. I’ve skimmed the first few chapters. Gimme a small break, okay.
I’ll save you time by highlighting two cool passages in this blog post. Then, I’ll share more insights about this topic in future blog posts.
Duncan writes, “Maximizing time feels good, no matter how it is enjoyed. Wasting time feels bad, no matter how it is wasted. Unfortunately, the reality for most of us is that we’re prone to feel bad more often than we feel good.” The man's preaching the truth.
He sums up the book's title this way, “What dulls the hope for many of us are the numerous obstacles that keep us from making time matter on a regular basis. These obstacles are called time traps, and our lives are typically full of them. The key to having more freedom with our time is learning how to sidestep these traps.”
You’re only six paragraphs into a post about time management, and it’s already paying off. Boom!
The first “Profile in Profitability” we wrote highlighted Marena and Ralph Markel. The Markels are FedEx Ground Contractors who were overwhelmed by the amount of time they were working through Peak in 2014. It physically took a toll on their health. The point of the profile was that we provided them tools to manage their tasks. It's a quick read if you're interested. They're better now, thanks for asking. ;)
What Can You Do?
Understand and admit that you can't and don’t manage time. You manage tasks and how you spend your time, but not time itself.
Step one is figuring out the data. What’s that mean? If you haven’t noticed, eTruckBiz is totally data driven. We constantly tell our clients to know their metrics. What are your stops per hour? Do you know your drivers’ on-road-hours. Watch your over-time. You have to know the data before you can do anything with it.
Start tracking your data by creating a personal time audit. Don’t skip this step. It's the foundation for getting better at managing your tasks.
Find a free app to record your time. Or, keep it even more basic and record your time on a piece of lined paper. You definitely have a pad of paper stuck in a desk drawer or on a closet shelf.
Starting tomorrow, write the date at the top of the page and list each working hour. Write five or six words by each hour tracking what tasks you worked on. Were you on the phone? Talking to a driver? Tracking a missed delivery? Calling a mechanic? Driving a truck? Tell me you're not still driving one of your trucks!
Do it for five days. If you're a six or seven day operation and you work every day, then track those days, too. You may be surprised. If you're not surprised, then why haven't you already solved your time dilemma?
Don't skip this step. It would be like making an appointment to visit a doctor when you feel sick, but you don’t know your symptoms. You’ve got to know what’s happening before receiving a prescription.
Remember we’re prone to feel bad more often than we feel good. This is just a first step. I'm keeping this simple so that you’ll do this. You owe it to yourself. What’s more important than feeling good about yourself?
Peter Drucker - The OG of Management
Another "go-to" author is Peter Drucker. He's one of the most widely-known and influential thinkers on management. He died in 2005, but he's considered to be the guy who invented management.
Drucker writes, "Effective knowledge workers, in my observation, do not start with their tasks. They start with their time. And they do not start out with planning. They start by finding out where their time actually goes. Then they attempt to manage their time and to cut back unproductive demands on their time."
You may not consider yourself a knowledge worker (he's old school), but that's missing the point. If your goal is to be a better manager, leader, spouse, or parent, then you must learn to control how you spend your time. And it starts with knowing where your time is actually spent. And you can't improve without setting a strong foundation. Your foundation is knowing your data, not thinking that you already know.
Now, it's time to wrap up this post and spend a few minutes doing something good for myself. How about you?