Who wants more time?

Most media executives and publishers know they need to launch new revenue streams to survive, but a major challenge is finding the time to do so. This struggle is not limited to just the media world. In fact, if you go to amazon.com and search for “time management,” you will find over 59,000 products for sale to help people address this issue.

We’d all like to have more hours in the day, but unfortunately, that number is not going to increase anytime soon. We must change our behavior to manage time better. Drawing on my experience as an executive and entrepreneur, I have developed my own strategy that I would like to share with you.

The strategy has three parts: Enumerate, Evaluate, Execute

Enumerate: Managing Time Starts with Making a List
Every morning, before I start working, I sit down and list all the action items that I need to complete that day. The list is a mix of personal errands and professional tasks (e.g., scheduling a dentist appointment, writing two pages of a research report). The list can be generated from a combination of sources: off the top of your head  from prior lists, and the calendar. It is important that every action item has a specific, clearly defined end point. For example, instead of saying, “Make progress on contacting sales leads” the item should be, “Call Bob, Charlie, and Denise.”

The value in listing everything out first thing in the morning is that you manage your day in a purposeful manner rather than in a reactive manner. You take charge of your day, rather than addressing things randomly as they come. As described in the Power of Full Engagement, by Jim Loehr, living a proactive life increases productivity and reduces stress.

Once you have a list, don’t panic about how long it is. Often I have 20-30 action items on my list. The next two steps will help you grapple with the length of your list.

Evaluate: Prioritize Your List to Increase Effectiveness
There are two things you need to consider when prioritizing your list of action items: importance and urgency.

How do you determine importance? Reflect on your overarching goals. I recommend recording and reviewing your top 3-5 overarching goals once a month. Overarching goals should focus on outcomes and be things like completing a major project within budget, closing a deal with a new customer, or building a better relationship with a coworker. Every morning, score each daily action item High, Medium, or Low depending on how related it is to your overarching goals. This determines importance.

The second component of evaluation is urgency. This is simply how much time do you have left for a particular task. Does it have to be done by lunch, by tomorrow, by next week, or by whenever? Write a deadline next to each item. The closer the deadline, the more urgent the action item.

Now sort your list. Put the most important and most urgent items on the top, and the least important and least urgent items on the bottom. You’ll need to use some discretion when there are ties.

Execute: Use the Effectiveness of the Five D’s of Time Management
Congratulations, you have enumerated and evaluated your daily action items. What should you do about it? It’s time to execute. You have five choices, and the good news is that they all start with a D: Do, Delegate, Diminish, Delay, or Delete.

Let’s start with the easy one – Do It. For the most important and urgent items on your list be like Nike and Just Do It. Don’t procrastinate, just get these activities done.

For things lower on the priority list, you have a choice between the remaining four D’s.

If possible, you can Delegate It, meaning ask someone else to do the task for you. Honey, would you mind doing the shopping this week? Mike, can I ask you to set up three interviews for me?

Another option you have is to Diminish It. Reduce the scope. For example, if your boss asked you to research financial information on ten different companies, perhaps you could ask him or her if it would be satisfactory to work on only the most critical five.

A fourth choice would be to Delay It. Push the deadline out on something that is not important enough to justify your time right now. Just remember to properly communicate the new deadline to people involved in the activity, and get their approval if necessary.

Finally, you can decide to Delete It. Decide NOT to do something. Just like when you choose to Delay It, you should communicate with the appropriate people to explain your reason for not completing the task.

So those are the five options you have for execution – Do It, Delegate It, Diminish It, Delay It, or Delete It.

How The Sterling Woods Group Can Help
We can be the “delegate.” Once we understand your audience, content, and business objectives, we can build new revenue streams for you in a self-sufficient manner. We are led by a senior, deeply experienced, cross-functional team that can take a project off your hands almost entirely. To learn more, visit sterlingwoods.com or email us at info@sterlingwoodsgroup.com.

About the Author
Rob Ristagno is the founder of The Sterling Woods Group, a firm that builds new revenue streams for media companies, publishers, and other content creators. He is an expert in direct monetization of content. Prior to creating The Sterling Woods Group, Rob served as a senior executive for several niche media and e-commerce companies. He most recently was the Chief Operating Officer of America’s Test Kitchen, considered to be the gold standard in the niche media world for building diversified – and often digital – revenue streams. Rob started his career as a consultant at McKinsey and Company and holds degrees from the Harvard Business School and Dartmouth College. To sign up for more articles from Rob and The Sterling Woods Group, subscribe here.

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