Standing in the middle of Best Buy at 2:00am on Black Friday, I couldn’t help but think of time management. Maybe it was the sleep deprivation, or a desperate attempt to occupy my mind with something other than the constant stream of shopping carts running into my ankles, but as I watched everyone around me pile heaps of electronics into their carts, I began to analyze their shopping strategies. By watching them shop, I realized I could also make a pretty good guess as to how they manage their time. What does your shopping strategy say about your productivity?
1. The Lost Puppies
A few people wandered around the store as if they were waiting for someone to point them in the right direction. They picked up an item, looked at it, started to put it in their cart, and then put it back down. These people have clearly never been Black Friday shopping before. It doesn’t work like that. As soon as you put it down, someone else takes it. Most of these people left the store empty handed.
Just like these shoppers didn’t cross any gifts off their shopping list with that strategy, they are unlikely to ever cross anything off their to-do lists either. Rather than tackling a big, important task, they start smaller, less-important tasks instead. These people are good at preparing to work, but not as skilled at actually beginning. Don’t let this happen to you! Pick your Meat, Vegetable, and Dessert priority tasks for the day and move forward. Preparation is great, but if it never leads to execution, your productivity will stall.
2. The Kid in the Candy Store
These shoppers can hardly contain their excitement. They haphazardly grab items off any shelf that says “sale.” They may have come into the store with an item in mind, but their carts are full by the time they reach it.
Whereas “sale” signs distract these shoppers from their shopping mission, Time Killers distract them in their time management. They may have had a productivity goal for the day, but they let Time Killers like Facebook, email, snacking, T.V. and texting distract them from their goals. Don’t let Time Killers throw you off track. Remove these distractions before they steal your focus.
3. The Planner
These people are a force to be reckoned with on Black Friday. They know exactly what they want and what time to show up in order to get it. They’ve mapped out the store in advance and go straight to their desired item without any detours. They get in and out of the store as quickly as possible, leaving the other shoppers to fight over the scraps.
This is the kind of laser-like focus that also achieves success in time management. It’s important to know your priorities for the day and don’t let Time Killers, or other tasks on your list distract you. By getting the task done quickly and efficiently, you have time left over for relaxation without the stress of your impending workload. This kind of focus takes discipline, but it pays off.