Rolex, Mickey Mouse or iPhone

July 22, 2014

Richard Maples

As Shepard Exposition's Executive Vice President of Sales, Richard fosters a team-based culture with a winning attitude, inspiration and a passion for providing the most customer-centric service in the trade show industry.

A powerful message I received early on in life about time management is that it doesn't matter if you wear a $10,000 Rolex or a $29 Mickey Mouse watch - we all have 24 hours in a day. And, for the new Smart Phone generation, who no longer wear timepieces, the point is the same - we all have the same 24 hours - no more, no less and you can't buy time, sorry Rolex!

So why do we feel less productive at times and more productive at other times? A lot of this has to do with priority alignment. The key being that we align our priorities (the most important task) to our desired outcomes (the most important things) and we become much more productive. Priority alignment was best described by Covey's First Things First habit when he spoke the parable of Big Rocks First!

What is a big rock? If you are in sales, a big rock is prospecting calls. It is important to make sure this rock goes into the jar first every day if your desired result is to make sales. If you're a show organizer, your big rock might be to the daily check and follow-up on pre-registration attendance numbers. For managers, it could be the daily follow-up on business plan tasks.

Once big rocks are accomplished, time to move on to small rocks, then sand, then water. Once your jar is full, your day is complete. Don't be fooled into thinking that all large rocks need to be job-oriented - it's important to include those things that provide life balance. If physical well-being is important, then make sure your exercise rock goes in every day. If spiritual conditioning is important, then make sure your meditation and/or prayer rock goes in every day. Family? This one is big for me. If I would let it, work could consume me 24/7, but I choose to put my family rock in first, although it might not seem that way some weeks!

Identifying the sand and water (less important tasks and time-fillers) is one of the more important exercises in time management. Sand and water - there is an app for that! Though not universal, Angry Birds, Candy Crush, Minecraft, Twitter and even Facebook easily go into the sand and water slot. In my own personal observance, the most productive group on our team is the least active in social media. The least productive always seems to have found something new on the Web or on their smartphones to occupy their time. Again, not universal, but by my own observations.

One last sand and water item to look at, our omnipresent friends - email and text. Audit yourself on how much time is spent with these two mediums and I'm confident you'll find they make up a great deal of your daily sand and water. My son and I talk about the fact that although he is in the text generation, dad needs to be productive, so give me a call and let's discuss in 2 minutes what will take us both 20 minutes on text. Especially if the text is passing and the communication gets skewed. We have all done it, so you know what I am saying.

Here are 7 steps to making the most out of your time:

1. Write down your priorities (goals) in life both personally and professionally.

2. Write down the single most important thing you can do daily to accomplish each of these goals.

3. Write down other obligations or duties you have commitments on and label small rock or sand & water.

4. Write down things you like to do and label small rock or sand & water.

5. Devise a schedule that ensures you put in the big rocks first, every day.

6. Find an accountability partner to share your plan and meet twice a month.

7. Step back and re-evaluate your plan twice a year.

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