© Gaye Wilson, 2009

questionGetting everything done isn’t easy when life gets in the way. You have shopping to do, paid work to do, the kids to take to sport, an essay due at university, the washing, the cooking, the ironing, catching the train … the list just goes on and on.

So how do you cope? How do you get everything done properly and on time?

By asking yourself one simple question:

What is the best use of my time right now?

I call it the BUT question.

This one question will guide you to victory. You can apply it to everything:

  • Whether to do this task or that one
  • Whether to make this choice or that one
  • Whether to eat, socialise, work, relax, exercise, sleep, clean up, see the doctor, outsource … you name it.

I have a client at the moment who is in the last stages of writing his PhD thesis. He hired me to get the formatting of the document right. This was a good move, because it freed him up to concentrate on the writing.

But he’s not writing. Although he has outsourced part of the job (the formatting), he’s still obsessing about the part he outsourced (yes – the formatting). He seems to be spending more time on how the final product is going to look than he is on the content of the final product. That’s fine, and every PhD candidate needs to obsess about both the content and the presentation.

But what this person is doing is the equivalent of having a dog and barking too.

He’s already outsourced the formatting. So why is he obsessing about whether the document should be double spaced or not? That’s my job. He hired me to format the document so that it looks outstanding and gives a professional, jaw-dropping first impression to the examiners. I’ve already given him my best professional advice, but he’s still vacillating.

He needs to ask himself what is the best use of his time: either cancel his contract with me to do part of the job; or allow me to do the job he hired me for, and get on with the actual meat of the project himself.

That’s what I mean when I say, what is the best use of your time right now? What is the one thing you can do that will have a positive impact on your project or your goal or your life right now?

Not next week.

Not tomorrow.

Not after lunch.

NOW.

If you get into the habit of asking yourself that question throughout your day, you will become much more productive, efficient and accomplished than you are now.

Try it. You’ll be surprised at the results.

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Comments

6 Responses to “What’s your Best Use of Time right now?”

  1. babafisa on August 4th, 2009 3:31 am

    truly loved the article added to my favourites

  2. hotspotshield on August 4th, 2009 12:34 pm

    Great article . Will definitely apply it to my site

  3. Vincent Brown on August 17th, 2009 5:27 am

    I am a new reader, having just found and subscribed to your blog. You’ve hit the nail on the head, continually refocus your time on tasks that will help achieve your goal, now.

    It’s easy to stay busy doing all the little things on your lists, these help to convince yourself you are working towards the goal. But unless you keep refocusing on what is the best use of your time right now to help achieve this goal, you’ll not be as productive.

    Procrastination is a sly devil. I sometimes get so busy with all the tasks I have on my ever growing lists that I can excuse myself by telling myself, “I just didn’t have time to get to that”.

  4. gryphon on August 17th, 2009 8:38 am

    Vincent,

    Thanks for your comment. It’s a very common problem, being busy doing all the little things and not getting to the big things that lead to your goals. Somehow the little things are easier to do than the big ones, which is why goal achievement programs (and coaches, like me) advocate dividing the big things into little chunks.

    I have a quote on my desktop:
    “If something was not accomplished, that’s because you didn’t do it.” – Yozan Uesugi, 17th century

    That keeps me on the ball.

    Love your website! Thanks for bringing it to my attention. We are kindred souls.

  5. Vincent on August 18th, 2009 12:09 pm

    Thanks Gaye,

    I assume you have read David Allen’s Getting Things Done. He’s a bit of a productivity guru. His ideas make even more sense in this day and age of computers.

    Love the Uesugi quote. I might do the same, print it out and keep it in view.

    Yes, we are kindred souls, and though I live just over the border in Adelaide, I was born and raised in Melbourne.

    I’ve been aware of your work some time having found your work on the Old Kingdom many years ago.

  6. gryphon on August 18th, 2009 12:51 pm

    Hi Vincent,

    I’ve read all sorts of productivity books. I used to work as an organisation and methods person, also known as time and motion expert, hence my interest in productivity and processes.

    I’m in Sydney.

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