Note: you can click here for Part 1 in this series.
In one recent visit to the gym, I saw someone filling out a crossword puzzle while using a leg curl machine, I saw another person who took nearly 10 minutes to read the newspaper in between two sets of crunches, and I saw a pair of exercise buddies spend nearly 20 minutes chatting in between two sets of lunges. Then, these people probably wonder why they don’t have a “six-pack,” even though they are “spending hours each week exercising.”
Professional athletes do more good for their body in 29 seconds than most people do in 2 hours. (For proof, click here for a 29-second clip from a workout by Olympic wrestling champion, Jordan Burroughs.) Their superior time management isn’t because of their athletic prowess. It’s because of their focus and intensity. Professional athletes don’t go to the gym to chit-chat or to read The New York Times. They go to the gym to drip sweat. They make every second count.
Success is not the result of how long you do something. Success is the result of how well you do something.
Unfortunately, hardly anyone approaches their work with the same intensity and focus of professional athletes. Want to know an easy way that you can work like an athlete trains?
Get a stopwatch and a notepad and time/track how you spend your time throughout the entire day. Just try it for a week, and you’ll be hooked. (Note: I first got this idea from Darren Hardy, Publisher of SUCCESS Magazine. In his New York Times best-selling book, Hardy talks about the value of tracking your behaviors.)
Tracking your time may sound like a lot of work, but it’s not. Just keep a small notepad handy, and write down the categories and times for your activities (i.e. 10:00-11:30 am: developed business proposal, 11:30-12:00: checked emails, 12:00-1:00 pm: lunch appointment with Jen Smith of ABC Company, etc.). Then, at the end of each day (and at the end of the week), you can review how you spent your time.
Like an overweight person who actually writes down everything he eats/drinks for an entire week, this practice will be completely eye-opening and life-changing. By writing down how you spend your time, you will also be much less likely to waste 30 minutes reading through meaningless tweets or chatting up your co-workers about last night’s episode of The Bachelor.
If you consider this strategy obsessive or unnecessary, consider this: Would you make fun of a professional athlete who approached his work in this manner? Why not approach your work the same way?
Pete Leibman is the Author of the new book titled “I Got My Dream Job and So Can You” (AMACOM, 2012). His career advice has been featured on Fox, CBS, and CNN, and he is a popular Keynote Speaker at career events for students and young professionals and at conferences for people who work with students and young professionals.