CHICAGO--If you want to make sure you accomplish your priorities, you need to shake the notion that you can do it all, said best-selling author Peter Bregman, who kicked off the Masters Series on Monday at the Society for Human Resource Management’s Annual Conference & Exposition.
“We always have more to do than we have time to accomplish. The biggest myth of time management is that we can get it all done,” said Bregman, author of Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done (Business Plus, 2012).
People and businesses waste a significant amount of time and potential by focusing on the wrong things or by not following through on priorities, he said.
“You can’t actually multi-task. It’s a fiction,” he said. “You can switch-task.”
But when you do that, you end up being distracted and making more mistakes, which often takes more time in the long run, Bregman said.
To help ensure you’re spending time on the right things, he suggests using his 18-minute plan for managing your day.
Spend five minutes in the morning to ask yourself: What do I realistically hope to accomplish today? Then, set an alarm to interrupt you every hour during the workday. Spend a minute each time the alarm goes off to ask yourself: Am I doing what I most need to be doing right now? Am I being who I most want to be right now?
Then, spend five minutes at the end of the day to review. How did my day go? What were the successes and challenges?
The same 18-minute plan can be used when running a meeting, he said.
To determine priorities over time, choose five priorities for the year, he said. What’s important to you? What will you look back on with a feeling of accomplishment?
On an organizational level, most companies aren’t as strategic as their leaders want them to be. The primary reason is often that business leaders don’t want to set priorities. They have difficulty saying no. For example, they say producing a quality product is the top priority; but then tell employees that revenue is a top priority too.
In addition, companies often spend a lot of time trying to fix employees’ weaknesses instead of focusing on their strengths and their passions, he said. Most people will have the same weaknesses year after year. So, play to their strengths.
“Believe me, you’re much better off doing other things than working on your weaknesses,” Bregman said.
They don’t have to be strong in everything to be good at their job, he said. Ensure they’re in the right role, a role that matches their strengths. Embrace their differences, and let them follow their passions.
The Masters Series is sponsored by the SHRM Foundation.
Dori Meinert is senior writer for HR Magazine.