Time Management 101

By Scott J. Brook

Most of us lead extremely busy lives. This new column is designed to provide you with numerous options to enhance your time management skills and reduce your stress. As a father of five children, owner of two businesses and a City Commissioner, my calendar is usually packed. I believe that several choices I regularly make contribute to my ability to manage my time effectively. I hope that you will find at least one idea that will contribute to your life.

While it is common to plan one’s week, it is less common to make regular reassessments. In my primary profession as an attorney, I must make regular adjustments to my schedule because of new demands that arise from my clients. Often these new demands are referred to as emergencies. In response, I have a choice whether to make it an emergency for me or someone else in my firm or to respond when it is more convenient for me because of my prior commitment. Typically, I will respond on an immediate basis and seek to move a less urgent commitment. What I choose not to do is spend time worrying about my situation.

I firmly believe that any time spent worrying is time wasted as it is an unproductive emotion. While my extraordinary wife, Brenda, disagrees with me, let me explain. I acknowledge that worrying is common. However, I think worrying is a choice. I prefer to make my worries into concerns that I can address. Whereas, I believe that we worry about things that are out of our control. In other words, when faced with a dilemma it is best to choose your best plan of action and execute without dwelling over whether your plan will succeed. I believe the worst choice is indecision, which often accompanies worry. If the situation is truly out of your hands, worrying will not aid you.

Most of us spend a fair amount of time worrying or complaining about our lack of time even. What if you chose not to? Do you know how much time you really have? If you are sleeping seven hours a night, you have 119 hours available to you weekly. 119 hours is the equivalent of THREE full-time jobs. Assuming you work 50 hours a week and sleep 7 hours nightly, you still have almost 70 hours available to you. I suggest you analyze how you spend your time to see if you can make changes to enhance your effectiveness. If you do this only for one week you will likely find some areas where you are making unwise choices or shall I say, choices that are not in alignment with your priorities.

At least three or four times engage in a re-evaluation of your plans for the week. Are your priorities the same? Are you being realistic with the demands you have placed on your self? Have you sought enough help? Are you saying “no” enough? I tend to reassess at least once daily. I say “no” quite a lot. While I am far from perfect, I do not strive to be. For me, it is an unrealistic aspiration. I make too many mistakes. Just ask my wife. If I were a perfectionist, I would probably hate myself because too often I am “just not getting it right.” Leading a busy life is not “easy,” but you can certainly take steps to manage your time more effectively.

In summary, here are several ideas that may help you master your waking hours:

1. Regularly reassess;
2. Be flexible;
3. Anticipate obstacles;
4. Choose whether to own someone else’s “emergency;”
5. Turn worries into concerns and address them;
6. Analyze how you spend your time;
7. Make realistic adjustments;
8. Say “no;”
9. Seek assistance or DELEGATE

If you have any questions or comments, please email me at scottbrook@scottjbrookpa.com.

Scott has been a Coral Springs City Commissioner since March of 2002. His law practice focuses on the areas of matrimonial law, workers’ compensation and estate planning. He graduated from the University of Miami School of Law in 1992 and has an MBA from Tulane University. He is crazy about his family.

Posted: Friday, Mar 18, 2005