Time Management Expert, Event Speaker: Mark Lamendola

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Time Tips: The Importance of Preparation

In the "Spy Who Shagged Me" trilogy, one of the movies featured the comeback of Dr. Evil.

And this time he was prepared. He had gone through several stages of preparation, starting with his Plan A--which he referred to as "Preparation A." With each revised preparation, he kept going on through the alphabet.

He was in suspended animation during the 1960s, and came back in the late 1990s. Thus, he missed some cultural changes--which made for some references that Mike Meyers shamelessly and hilariously exploited in this series.

When Dr. Evil unveiled his latest preparation to his inner circle, he didn't know that Preparation H had another meaning. (Given what we taxpayers endure, Congress really should issue tubes of it along with our tax forms.)

While that parody was cute in its own right, it does illustrate the importance of preparing. Are we willing to revise our preparations as needed? Or do we repeat the same old mistakes, costing time repeatedly? Have you ever felt rushed during the same task or been late to the same place? If so, you may need to revise your preparation.

You've no doubt heard the axiom, "Preparation is everything." That axiom is a bit hyperbolic, but it underscores a fundamental concept of time management. And of success, in general.

Suppose you start work at 0700. You usually arrive at the office a couple of minutes before seven. About once a month, you arrive at the office one minute late. Every day, it seems like you are fighting traffic, pushing the speed limit, and constantly checking your clock as you sit behind yet another person who didn't rocket forward when the light changed. Sound familiar? If it doesn't sound familiar in this context, it probably does in some other. So, let's continue with this example.

If you just barely get to work on time, what's the cause? Here are some choices:

  • Those idiotic police were shooting radar again, slowing you down.
  • You didn't swear enough at the person in front of you in traffic.
  • You didn't mash the gas fast enough at the last light.
  • You didn't take enough unnecessary risks in traffic.
  • You weren't rude enough to other people while on your way to work.
  • You didn't cheat yourself out of a decent breakfast, cut enough corners on grooming, rush around like an idiot enough, set a bad enough example for your kids, or remind your spouse what an imposition s/he is.

Hmm. Do any of the above "strategies" actually work? No. So, why are these the things people tend to do? No answer for that, really, but here are some other strategies that will definitely improve your morning commute (assuming you have one, so we can go through this example--otherwise, apply them to a similar time crunch you have):

  • Don't act surprised that you have to go to work. This sounds obvious, but nearly everyone actually does treat this task as a surprise. Instead, establish a routine that makes the process easy. Recognize, and act on, the fact that you have a series of tasks to complete to get you from your bed to behind your desk (or wherever it is you work).
  • Plan your meals and wardrobe days ahead of time, so you don't have to even think about those things when you are getting ready to go. Keeping your clothes neatly organized is a big time saver--can you think of others?
  • Are you waking to an alarm? Stop doing that. If you have to wake to an alarm, this means you aren't getting enough sleep. You are wasting years of your career by underperforming every day. Save time by going to bed at about the same time every night, and allowing plenty of time for you to get a good night's sleep. Your body clock doesn't know weekends from weekdays, so don't pretend it does.
  • Plan for more than the minimum time in the morning. The "late night culture," while appearing sophisticated, is a holdover from adolescence. It's not an easily sustainable approach to life, and it promotes stress and failure. Farmers get this one right--they go to bed early and wake up early. They get an early start on life each day. Yes, the early bird gets the worm. The late bird gets something else--see the Preparation H notes, above. Let other people stay up late drinking, getting sleep deprived, getting misinformed by the "news" shows, and so on. What you need to do is be proactively in charge of your schedule. And the key to that is going to bed "early." It's not actually "early," but just looks that way to the undisciplined and short-sighted. Get your day off to a good start, not a stressful one. The morning is your friend, not your enemy.
Read instructions before you tackle something you aren't familiar with. This should be part of planning the job.

If you are tempted to think otherwise, then compare your situation to swimming. When is the better time to start learning how to swim--before you get in deep water, or after? All I could really say the other day was glug, glug, glug. Don't let this happen to you!

Rather than spend time making and correcting mistakes, figure out how to do the job before you start. Huge time-saver.

If you think about what I've said here and act upon it, you will never again have the "Monday Blues." I look forward to Mondays, and so can you.



Do you want to radically improve how well people in your organization make use of the limited number of hours in each work day?

Contact me to arrange a time when we can talk about a presentation: mark@mindconnection.com. Why arrange a time? So I can give you full attention during the call. There's a really powerful time management tip. Ask me why it works.