My sage father sat me down on his lap when I was a young puppy and gave me unbelievably profound advice that I finally understood many years later. Dad told me to set aside the first 15 minutes each day to plan four areas of my life. He said the benefit of that daily habit would not only maximize the value of the rest of the day, but also the value of the rest of my life. Since I cannot give you my father, let me give you his extremely wise advice. These are the four areas of life he told me to plan.
Time for myself / Time for others
Dad told me not to surrender priority to urgency. He said that urgencies act upon priorities ignored. Set aside time each day for thinking and meditating. Then concentrate on looking for and taking advantage of opportunities to add value to other peoples’ lives. Based upon current divorce statistics too many couples don’t take quality and quantity time living for their spouses.
Carefully plan your daily activities
This is a four step process. First, make a list of all the thing that need to be done today. Then prioritize the list with “A” activities which must be done, “B” activities which should be done, and “C” activities which could be done. Then sequence the order of each priority and attack them one at a time. Dad said to check off completed activities and he promised that I would get an endorphin rush with each check. Endorphins feel really good, so get lots done each day.
Plan your finances
This is a really big deal. Most Americans, and by my observation almost all kids entering college today, know far more about computers than they do about financial management. Since parents (for the most part) are not teaching their kids how to live below their means and save for large purchases and retirement, my degree program requires all graduates to complete a three credit personal and business finance course. The earlier people start planning for retirement — the earlier people can afford to retire. Remember — retirement is an income, not an age.
Plan your life
My dad taught me to dream big dreams, turn dreams into a vision by writing them down, read the vision daily, then stay open to unexpected opportunities. Dad said that it is better to attempt something great and fail, than to attempt nothing and succeed.
All of these sage pieces of advice are applicable to businesses as well as individuals. Businesses must know and focus on how they add value to their customers, or they won’t have any customers. Time is money to businesses — plan the day and don’t waste a precious moment. Then take care of finances and don’t let outgo get ahead of income or the upkeep will become the downfall. Finally, have and live by a business plan.
Don’t think you have time to plan? 15 minutes is just 1% of each day.
Charlie Dexter is a professor of applied business emeritus at the UAF Community and Technical College. He can be reached at email@example.com. This column is brought to you as a public service by the UAF Department of Applied Business.