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The Thought Leader’s Time Management Strategies

In the work that I do with authors, thought leaders, speakers, and content creators around the globe, I’ve realized that most of their time management strategies commit too much time focusing on things they “can do” and “have to do” and rarely enough time on the things they “get to do.”

Let me explain—in my work I get to dive deep into my clients’ content and develop and execute viable strategies that enable them to leverage their content. It’s not easy work, but I enjoy it immensely and (according to my clients) I’m pretty good at it. To me, this is my “get to” bucket. It’s work that I love, it makes a difference to my clients, and I am compensated well for my work.

Now, there are lots of things I can do. I can write blog posts, manage projects, manage client relationships, develop new business, design marketing campaigns, etc. I’m good at these things and enjoy the challenges of each of these tasks. There are others in my organization that can do some of these things, but the reality is I can do them, I choose to do them, and the process of doing them is valuable to my company and my clients.

Then there’s this other list, the list of things I have to do. As a CEO of a fast growing firm I need to ensure that our finances, pricing, receivables, cost structure, and our relationships with our key partners and vendors are all in order. I don’t love any of these tasks, but I know how important they are to the business and I make sure they get done.

My goal is to make sure that I spend as much time as possible doing the things I “get to do,” the least amount of time on the things I “have to do,” and the right amount of time on the things I “can do.” Sometimes things change and a “can do” becomes a “get to do” or a “get to do” gets old and becomes a “have to do.” That’s ok—we all change and evolve and need to understand and adapt constantly. It may seem a bit trite, but it’s not at all easy to do in practice. First, you have to know your “get to’s,” “can do’s,” and “have to’s.” Not all tasks are fun, engaging or exciting and anyone that tells you that you can spend all of your time doing only what you love is not being practical.

Now, let me take this concept back to where I started: the time management strategies of authors, thought leaders and content creators. Most of them know what they “get to do.” They know they love to speak, to write, to create, or to research. However, they often make one of two mistakes.

The first mistake they make is to spend all of their time, energy, and effort in the “get to” bucket. They’ve written five books and have seven more they want to write, but they haven’t made any of their books a success. They refine their speech to perfection on a daily basis, respond to every email and comment from a “fan”— none of these things are bad, obviously, but if they don’t spend time on the business side of the content business they are doing themselves, and their work, a disservice.

The second mistake I see creators make is not spending enough time on the “get to” stuff. They focus on what they “need to do” or “have to do” and they execute it well, but they pour time into things they aren’t good at, don’t enjoy, that don’t add value to their organizations, or could be cost effectively delegated to someone else. This includes social media, design work, website development, logistics, scheduling, etc.

So what do you get to do?
What can you do and what do you have to do?
Do you have the right balance?

If you aren’t sure how to answer those questions spend some time thinking about it, then adapt your strategy to make sure you allocate your most precious resource, your time, against those tasks appropriately.

Peter Winick has deep expertise in helping those with deep expertise. He is the CEO of Thought Leadership Leverage. Visit Peter on Twitter!

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