Your 2-Minute Offense

Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”

- Cyril Parkinson

I am a fan of the National Football League. For me, the most intriguing aspect of the game is the 2-minute offense. When time is running out and a team is losing, they implement this” hurry up” offense in an attempt to catch up. There was one game in particular that comes to mind as a good example of this strategy. 

The Washington Redskins were playing the New Orleans Saints. Through the first three quarters, the Redskins were winning every phase of the game. The Saints struggled to move the ball and score points. 

Suddenly, in the 4th quarter with about eight minutes left, the Saints implemented the 2-minute offense. They scored more points in the last eight minutes than they did in the other three quarters combined! Why didn’t the Saints just run this offense the entire game? 

This reminds me of some of the executives that I have worked with that get more done the week before they go on vacation than they did in the previous three weeks of the month. Or the clerks at the local retail store that are able to check out more customers in the last 30 minutes before closing than they did the previous three hours. 

Or the college student that is able to get more accomplished on his term paper the week it's due than he did the entire semester. These three examples each have one thing in common -- improved productivity resulting from an urgent deadline. Is it possible to have the same level of focus on a project or task without the existence of a pending deadline? 

Important But NOT Urgent
The first key to maintaining the right level of focus on an important project is to begin BEFORE it becomes urgent. Author Stephen Covey breaks down time management into four quadrants:

  1. Important and urgent
  2. Important but not urgent
  3. Not important and urgent
  4. Not important and not urgent

If the college student started the term paper at the beginning of the semester, it would be a Quadrant 2 activity because it is important, but not due until the end of the term. Waiting until the last minute makes it a Quadrant 1 activity. Resolve to identify and complete your important projects before they become urgent. 

Time Block
Once you have identified the important project, the next step is to create the urgency. This can be done by scheduling specific blocks of time for completion. Using a timer to give yourself a deadline. For example, when I write my blog, I set my timer for 30 minutes. When the alarm buzzes, I have to stop whether I am finished or not. Having a deadline forces me to make the best use of the time that I have. I eliminate all outside distractions and only focus on the task at hand. Writing my blog is important, and blocking out the time allows me to finish well before it becomes urgent.

Some of the good football teams run the 2-minute offense early in the game when they are ahead on the scoreboard. If you commit to identifying your Quadrant 2 activities, and blocking out time for completion, you will have successfully implemented your own 2-minute offense! 

Eric M Twiggs
Your Procrastination Prevention Partner

Three Words That Will Destroy Your Day

You are having a productive day and plowing through your to-do list.  You’ve blocked off time to start a special project and are on pace to finish well ahead of schedule.   Suddenly, you are confronted with those three little words that can destroy your day: “Got a minute?” 

Most offices have the person that I describe as ”Got a Minute Gary”.  This is the individual that is always approaching you when you’re in the middle of completing an important project and asking, “Hey Eric, you got a minute?” I’ve discovered that they never take only a minute. On a good day, they waste at least 20 minutes of your time. Gary’s sole mission in life is to make you late. 

As you keep reading, you will learn two strategies to effectively deal with “Got a Minute Gary”. If you happen to be the Gary of your office, I hope this message inspires you to change your ways!

It’s important to know the value of your time. Knowing this will motivate you to protect it against unscheduled interruptions.   The calculation is simple.  Take your desired annual income and divide by the number of weeks you work factoring in scheduled vacations.   So if your desired income is $110,000 and you work 49 weeks (factoring in 3 vacation weeks), divide dollars weeks and you get $2,244.89.  Next, take the $2,244.89 and divide by the hours you work per week.  Be sure to subtract lunch time.  If you work 50 hours per week and take an hour for lunch each day, you would divide by 45 hours and get $50. In this calculation, your time is worth $50 per hour. 

For many of the people that I work with, their time is worth $100 per hour and up. If you fall into this category and Gary takes up a half an hour of your time, he is literally costing you $50 each time he interrupts you. Every time he shows up at your desk, picture yourself giving him a $50 dollar bill. 

When working on a project, let everyone know up front the times of day that you will not be available. This can be accomplished by putting a sign out notification on your email that lets people know the specific blocks of time that you will be out of the loop. Whenever someone emails you they will see the message. 

My favorite approach is the direct one.   When Gary asks you if you have a minute, tell him what you are working on, and offer to schedule an appointment time with him to discuss what he wants to talk about.  Have your calendar ready BEFORE he approaches you. 

You tell him what times work best for you instead of asking him when he is available.  Make sure you communicate when the meeting will start AND when it will end.   Short time windows inspire people to get to the point. 

The appointment will send the message that your time is too valuable to be wasted and will make Gary think twice before interrupting you again.   By calculating the value of your time and communicating your availability, you can avoid those three deadly words for good! 

Eric M. Twiggs
Your Procrastination Prevention Partner

To access additional time management strategies download my latest ebook, One Moment in Time.

Your Failure is Not Fatal

Failure is not fatal, but a failure to change might be.”

John Wooden

Years ago, there was a young man named Ron who graduated from College with the goal of becoming the manager of a major department store in his home town. He was a successful college athlete, so he figured that he would apply for the open Sporting Goods Department Manager position. He left the interview with a good feeling about his chances of getting hired. 

Later that week he received a call from the hiring manager letting him know that he did not get the job. Ron was devastated. He told his mother what happened and she said, “Well son, maybe there is another plan for your life.” 

As it turns out, the plan was bigger than either of them could have imagined. The young man in the story is Ronald Reagan and many historians believe that, had he gotten the position he was seeking, he many have never become President. His failure was not fatal. 

“The faster you let it go, the faster you grow.”
Are you still holding on to a failure from your past? As your Procrastination Prevention Partner, I have discovered that an incorrect perspective on failure is one of the main causes of procrastination. Selling professionals with a goal of making six figures delay making their sales calls because a previous transaction did not go as planned. 

Business owners, who complain about not having any free time, refuse to hire their replacement because they remember the bad hiring decision they made in the past. The selling professional and business owner have one thing in common: their actions do not align with their aspirations because of how they view their failures. So how do you move forward and achieve your goals in spite of your painful past? 

Lessons Learned List
I have developed a habit of making a “lessons learned list” whenever I experience a setback. I use the memo app on my phone to list everything that I learned from the experience. The list of positive benefits is always longer than I expect. I can attribute many of my current successes to this process. 

For example, after some of my keynote speeches, people come up to me and say, “Eric, I am terrified at the thought of public speaking, but you are a natural.” The only reason I appear to be a natural is because of what I have learned from my many failures. The engagements that did not go as planned gave me the necessary experience for future achievement. Failure is the secret to my success! 

Just like Ronald Regan, you can use failure as a stepping stone to greatness. If you commit to making a lessons learned list, you will have the right perspective on your pain. You may not get an airport named after you, but you can still fly to the next level! 

Eric M. Twiggs
Your Procrastination Prevention Partner

PS. For additional information on how to overcome procrastination, download my ebook.

The Timesaving “Key” To Your Success

What got you here won’t get you there.”

- Marshall Goldsmith

I have a habit that drives my wife crazy. When traveling, I accidentally keep the room keys to the hotels. Being the creature of habit that I am, I tend to stay at the Hampton Inn whenever possible. On a recent trip I decided to conduct an experiment. 

I attempted to use the Hampton Inn key from my previous stay in the door of my current hotel. I slid the key and was disappointed that it did not work. The problem was that I was trying to go through a new door with an old key! If you have ever tried to get to the next level by doing what got you to where you are, you can relate to this experience. What then is the key to your success that will save time? 

Who, Why, What
Whenever I get to a new level, I ask myself three questions:

  1. Who is currently on that level that has the results that I want?
  2. Why are they successful?
  3. What do they do that I can duplicate to get the same results?

For example, early in my career I received a promotion to District Manager of a national automotive chain with responsibility over 16 stores. The district assigned had a history of poor customer satisfaction and always ranked at the bottom of the organization in this category. 

Initially, I attempted to solve the problem by doing what made me successful as single unit manager. This resulted in several weeks of frustration and embarrassment as our customer service scores ranked last in the company! I was so frustrated that I scheduled a meeting with my boss to ask him what he thought I could do to improve. 

Instead of answering my questions, my boss asked me the following: “Who has the best customer service results in the company? Why is he successful? What does he do that you could duplicate in your District?" 

After this conversation, I contacted the top performing district manager and discovered that we were doing many of the same things to improve customer service. However, there was one method of communication that he was using with his team that I had been neglecting. Although it seemed minor, I decided to give it a try. Once I implemented his strategy, my district went from dead last, to well above the national average in customer service results within three weeks! 

Asking the Who-Why-What questions were the keys that took me to the next level. Remember, what got you here won’t get you there! If you know of someone that needs the “key”, please forward this post using the share buttons at the bottom of this post. 

Eric M. Twiggs
Your Procrastination Prevention Partner

PS. For more information that will help you to save time, download my ebook.

Time Is the Only Thing You Can't Afford To Waste

This isn't a doom and gloom message. Doom and gloom messages have a moral tale to tell.

I don't. I just want to make you aware of a serious problem. It doesn't seem like a problem for you at the moment, but it truly is.

twiggs-one_moment_in_time-cover (1).jpg

Here's the problem. Time is the one thing we can't get back once it's lost.

Your choices are increasingly limited and in other ways your choices are just increasing. Your decisions today could cost you time tomorrow.

You read Twiggs Time because you're interested in getting great information about managing your time. I hope I haven't disappointed you.

I strive to lead the industry in being on top of the trends, keeping an eye on the market shifts, and educating new business owners, seasoned executives and key members of their teams to ensure their success.

In keeping in line with my goals, I have recently published the definitive digital publication to help you make the most of your time.

I compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions from my clients and prospects. The questions from business owners, employees and corporate executives are consistently the same.

I decided to create a guide to answer these questions and more. This guide was designed to:

  • Introduce you to the power of the list
  • Show you how to plan and design a time management scheme
  • Educate you on how to truly achieve success by prioritizing 
  • Teach you the principles of effective preparation

Not knowing the lessons in this book could cost you the one thing that you can't afford to lose... time.

Download it to your tablet, or even your phone, and refer back to it as often as you need to, to begin building more effective time saving habits.

Eric M. Twiggs
Your Procrastination Prevention Partner