Kathy Walters Burnsed speaks about Time and Productivity
Published in the Savannah Morning News April 4, 2012
by Mary Carr Mayle
“You know, it’s that little line on a grave marker that separates date of birth and date of death — and represents everything you do in between,” she told the more than 120 members of the Savannah Small Business Chamber at their April lunch meeting Tuesday.
“Unfortunately, too many of us spend too much of our time dashing here and there, trying to fulfill our own unrealistic expectations and bogging down in the minutiae,” said Burnsed, a time-management consultant and owner of Perfect Timing Today.
“Dashing from one thing to another takes a toll, often keeping us from doing the things that are most important,” she said.
To counteract our instinctive need to “do it all now,” Burnsed starts out debunking a few popular myths.
“We all think the longer we work the more we will get done,” she said. “But studies have indicated time and again that longer work hours do not translate into increased productivity.
“In fact, there is a link between overtime hours worked on a regular basis and depression.”
Another misconception is that we should first make a list, she said.
“Most of us are list-makers — our lists are good,” she said. “But too many of us make lists that are so extensive, so impossible to complete, they become self-defeating.”
Before you make that list, she said, spend a few days doing a time-tracking exercise.
“Write down everything you do — every detail from the time you get up until you go to bed,” Burnsed said. “I can almost guarantee you’ll be floored at how much time you spend on things that really don’t matter that much to you.”
That done, Burnsed suggests, it will be easier to make necessary adjustments, looking at those things that can be eliminated, while beginning to set priorities and build life goals.
“Once you have a better handle on your priorities and goals, it’s easier to filter everything you do through them,” she said. “It’s also easier to make a list that’s doable.”
To help with that chore, Burnsed offered copies of her list-making pad, each page divided into three categories: “dash today,” “dash tomorrow” and “don’t dash” — along with a bit of advice.
“The tendency is to cram as much as we can into the “dash today” category,” she said. “In fact, more than one person has told me that’s not nearly enough room for the ‘today’ list. But, good clock management takes discipline, so try to list only the three or four things that matter the most to you.
“Take care of those first, and everything else will fall into place.
“You’re going to feel better moving items up from the tomorrow list than leaving things on the today list undone.”
And the “don’t dash” category?
“You’ll understand that as soon as you complete your time-tracking exercise,” she said, laughing.
Another myth: personal and business goals must be separate.
“We’ve all been taught to compartmentalize our lives, keeping personal and professional goals separate,” Burnsed said. “The problem with that is, when you can’t look at the whole picture, you are more likely to create deficits on one side or the other.
Burnsed finds it puzzling that people tend to pay closer attention to how they spend their money than how they spend their time.
“Time is the currency of life,” she said. “And you only get one dash.”