by Hal Alpiar

To figure out whether or not time is managing YOU, draw a bullseye with two rings around it and label the center space: FAMILY & PERSONAL, then label the innermost ring space: WORK & BUSINESS, and then label the outer ring space: FRIENDS & OTHER ACTIVITIES.

Then copy each heading onto a separate column or separate piece of paper. Then list the most appropriate items/people/places/things in each category. Allow one minute per list.

Put the list down and walk away. Get some water or a cookie or just stare out the window. (This is like a little ginger between sushi pieces.) Then return to your target and lists. The amount of blur between your bullseye and your next two rings will indicate how “fastlane” your life is right now.

I say “right now” because this is a here and now exercise: what goes in each part of the target can change by next week, tomorrow, tonight, or within the next 6 seconds! In fact, when life gets too hectic, it’s a useful device for daily assessment, for helping you sort out and stay focused on priorities.

Whatever blur does occur, whatever lack of definition exists between the 3 areas should give you a good heads up on how efficiently or inefficiently you are using your time, as well as the extent of your allegiances to each entity that is taking time and attention from your life.

Once you’ve done this little diagnostic study on yourself, and have a good overview of your current activities and involvements, you need to decide if these pieces are where you want them to be.

Are you spending too much time with your business and not enough with your family, for example? Or, are you so caught up in someone else’s problem that you haven’t made time to solve your own?

I once found myself so sucked into a Chamber of Commerce project to boost town retail traffic, that I ended up working nights and weekends just to catch up with my own business (which was not retail and stood to gain nothing from the initiative).

The crunch infiltrated my time commitments to my family. The small disruptions that surfaced were clearly the tip of cataclysmic explosion.

I extracted myself from the C of C mission and discovered — lo and behold! — the retailers I was knocking myself out to promote didn’t care enough to pick up the ball for themselves… AND, without all the volunteer work distractions, I was doing a better job of selling

This is NOT to suggest that voluntary community work is not worthwhile. It most certainly is. But I highly recommend such engagements be clearly defined, clearly justified, and clearly scheduled.

Plus –realistically — where choice is involved (vs., i.e., an emergency), no one should ever commit to helping others who is not coming from a position of strength to begin with.

A sick salespersonh is an ineffective salesperson. A cashpoor salesperson cannot donate to charities. A sales rep who’s preoccupied with family survival issues or debt collection issues cannot be an effective sales leader.

Draw your target again tomorrow. See if anything changes. Can make something change? Maybe if you stop juggling one fewer seagull, it will fly away!

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