What’s the SCORE? by Dana Peterka: Who’s in control of your time? Your life?

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When you allow yourself to be interrupted, while you are doing a task, are you letting others control your priorities?

Is the interruption of such importance that it requires an immediate response?

When I see people immediately responding to a phone call, email, instant message or text, I wonder if they are managing themselves or letting others control them. Yes, some phone calls are more important than the task at hand.

A Microsoft & University of Illinois study found, when interrupted by an email, instant message or text, it takes a worker an average of 17 minutes to get back to what he was doing.

Yes, there are important interruptions, but does the topic need to be dealt with immediately, at the possible expense of more important items?

As Dwight D. Eisenhower said, “What is important is seldom urgent  — and what is urgent is seldom important.”

In the “Time Management: Strategic Concepts and Practical Time Savers” workshop, one of the topics we discuss is keeping a daily time diary.

In order to effectively manage time, it is important to know where you are now, as well as determining your plan for the future.

A format is provided to not only track each activity, but also rate it, using the Eisenhower Importance-Urgency quadrants, which are explained in the workshop.

When this time diary is discussed in the workshop, I often wonder how many people are actually going to use it.

I was impressed earlier this year when a successful businessman shared his time diary summary with the public.

Here are some observations on how he invested his time: He worked 69 hours per week, which is typical of a successful professional.

What about the time spent in meetings? Only 9 percent was spent in internal meetings, with another 8 percent in meetings dealing with meetings in his role on a state level.

Interestingly, he invested 22 percent of his time in networking type meetings with stakeholders, such as officials and community leaders.

Why am I highlighting this? Two reasons: If you want to be successful, learn from what successful people do.

We do learn a lot from others, both good and bad practices. Choose to proactively select individuals and groups where you have opportunities to learn from and share your knowledge and experience with others.

This is one of the reasons I decided to join SCORE. I have learned a lot from other SCORE volunteers and the 500-plus clients that I have counseled.

Second, note that I wrote about how this businessman his time.

Yes, time is resource like money. The big difference is that time is a resource that we all have in equal quantity. We all have the same amount of time to invest in ourselves and achieving our potential.

We have the same amount of time each day as the president, Warren Buffet and Bill Gates. When investing, we look at return on investment.

In the Time Management: Strategic Concepts and Practical Time Savers workshop, we look at return on time invested. As management guru Peter Drucker said, “Time is the scarcest resource and, unless it is managed, nothing else can be managed.”

Studies have shown that a person’s productivity in a work day is only 30-33 percent!

Do you know your productivity percentage? Keep a daily time diary in order to know where you are now. Look for opportunities to work smarter, not harder.

Here are closing statements from the workshop:

What are you going to do with your one and only life?

Make the commitment! “My time is my life. I am serious about taking control. I will make choices for how I spend myself.”
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The two-hour Time Management: Strategic Concepts and Practical Time Savers workshop will start at noon Aug. 22 at the Roane County Chamber of Commerce (376-5572). Lunch is included. There is no charge for employees of Chamber members and $35 for others.

Is it worth taking a long lunch to learn something that you can immediately use to improve your professional skills?
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Dana Peterka is a Roane County SCORE counselor and chairman-elect of the Roane County Chamber of Commerce. Email him questions about small business-related issues at newsroom@roanecounty.com. Business owners can reach him through the Chamber of Commerce at 376-2093.