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Keeping Track of Goals, Keeping Track of Time

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We’ve passed the midpoint of the year, which makes it a good time to stop and take stock of where you are.  It’s a good time to mark your progress in achieving the goals you set for yourself and your dealership at the beginning of the year.

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Or, rather, it would be a good time, but you’ve got three people out on vacation this week, trying to get that trip in before the kids go back to school. And then, it’s time for your own vacation, which you’ve put off until you have a full staff back to cover you. Pretty soon, summer is gone, and the new model-year cars are coming into the dealership inventory. Time to sell some old new cars to make room for next year’s model. Next thing you know, the fall is gone, and it’s the holiday season. And then it’s time for the year-end push to meet 2016’s sales goals. Also, birthdays, anniversaries and other happy distractions have been strewn along the way, along with challenges that came out of nowhere. And then, before you know it, it’s time to set the goals for 2017.

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It’s easy to lose a year to the day-to-day routine, but in order to achieve goals, you must make an effort to keep track of where you are, what you’re doing, what’s working and what’s not. It’s not difficult to organize your life to achieve what you’ve set out to accomplish, but it doesn’t happen simply because you want it to. You’ve got to put your finite energy to good use.Set goals, and write them down — An unwritten goal is a dream. It’s a hope. It’s a “wouldn’t it be nice if…” statement. It’s ephemeral. It evaporates as soon as something concrete has to be done. It’s a custom-made notion to be put on the back burner, to go where ideas go to die. A written goal, on the other hand, is real. It doesn’t exist in memory or in imagination. It stares you in the face at times when it’s tempting to take the easier path, challenging you to live up to what you yourself set out to do. It seems like a simple thing, almost silly at times, but don’t underestimate the power of the real over the imaginary.

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Don’t put things off; get them done — The human mind has the ability to hold a great many things in storage, waiting for the opportunity to complete tasks once other, more important jobs are finished. The problem, however, is that in today’s fast-paced culture, something is always jockeying for position at the top of our minds. Unfinished tasks are taking up storage, taking up energy, in our minds, and it becomes increasingly difficult to concentrate on the task at hand. As much as we’d like to think we can multitask, science tells us that the human mind just isn’t designed for it. What we’re really doing is jumping from track to track so quickly that it seems like we’re doing two or more things at once. The reality is that none of those tasks are getting done as quickly, or as well, as they would if we would finish one task before starting another. If something takes a couple of minutes to do, do it. Get it off your plate, and off your mind, and move on. 

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Don’t wait for the time, save the time — Despite what some might say, you can’t make time for activities. We all get 24 hours in a day, and it ticks on one second at a time. It’s relentless. The trick is not to make time, but to save the time. Scheduling is key for this. The time is going to pass anyway, no matter what you are doing or not doing. By reserving periods of time for certain activities (say, managing your goals and examining how you’re doing), that activity will get done, and will then be off your mind, allowing you to tackle the next activity free and clear. You might be surprised how much time you’ll “create” if you start to name your time. It works differently for different people — some may want to schedule their time in 10- or 15-minute increments, while others are more comfortable with less-defined blocks of time set aside for groups of activities. Whatever works best for you, own your day. 

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Save time for yourself — One of the benefits of saving your time is that, when it’s time to take some for yourself, you’ll have it, and it won’t be overshadowed by all the unfinished tasks lurking in your subconscious, chipping away at your attention span. You’ll be able to be present on family vacations, get-togethers or simple down time. Your best self is not the stressed-out manager who’s barely keeping it together; instead, it’s the calm, on-top-of-it leader who is confident because goals are being met, progress is being tracked and time is being managed. You owe that to your employees, your co-workers, your family and, most important, to yourself.

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by ​Susan Givens

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