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Time Management Tips # 10 - Set Limits

Time Management Tips # 10 - Set Limits

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I hate quotas.  For me, I'm about quality, not quantity.  And yet quotas have consistently helped me get the ball rolling, or find out what I'm capable of.

Time management tips # 10 – set limits.  When we set a quota, we have a target.  It helps turn a goal into something we can count.  And when we can count it, we build momentum.

In my early days of Microsoft, my manager set a limit that I needed to write two Knowledge Base articles per month.  I did that, and more.  Way more.  It turned out to be a big deal.  Before that limit, I didn't think I could do any or would ever do any.

A few years back, I set a limit that my posts would be no longer than six inches (yeah, that sounds like a weird size limit, but I wanted to fill no more than where the gray box on my blog faded to white.)  My blog ended up in the top 50 blogs on MSDN, of more than 5,000 blogs, and my readership grew exponentially that month.  The reason I set the size limit is because my original limit was "write no more than 20 minutes."  The problem is, when I'm in my execution mode, I write fast, and my posts were getting really long, even if I only wrote for 20 minutes.

Setting limits in time, size, or quantity can help you in so many ways.  Especially, if getting started is tough.  One great way to start, is simply to ask, "What's one thing I can do today towards XYZ?"  Limits also help us avoid from getting overwhelmed or bogged down.  If we’re feeling heavy or overburdened, start chopping at limits until your load feels lighter.

Here are some example of some limits you can try:

  1. Write one blog post each day.
  2. Spend a maximum of 20 minutes each day on XYZ.
  3. Spend a minimum of 30 minutes on exercise every other day.
  4. Spend 30 days on XYZ.
  5. Read three books this month.
  6. Cut the time of your XYZ routine in half.
  7. Ship one phone app this month.
  8. Ship one eBook this month.
  9. Start one blog this month.
  10. Spend no more than 30 minutes on email a day.

Once you set a limit, you suddenly get resourceful in findings new ways to optimize, or new ways to make it happen.  When there is no limit, it's tough to optimize because you don't know when you are done.

While I'm a fan of quality, the trick is to first "flow some water through the pipe" so you can tune, prune, and improve it.

If you're feeling rusty, try setting little limits to bootstrap what you're capable of.

In 30 Days of Getting Results, you can use the time management exercises to be more effective and get exponential results on a daily and weekly basis.  You can also find more time management tips in my book, Getting Results the Agile Way, and on Getting Results.com

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