Improve Your IT Self – Obsessive Resource Management

 In TCM Post

Where are your time and money going? If you’re not sure, this lesson is going to be easy for you to apply to improve your career.

It’s an easy thing to say – but you are going to have to work hard to achieve your goals. In doing so, you have to be brutally honest with yourself. Be obsessive, even passionate about where you spend your time. Spend time adding value to your life, your family, and your career. Honestly evaluate if what you are doing has a positive impact on your well being and success. Sure, there’s a time for vacationing and relaxing and some TV or video games every once in a while. That all can be fun, but doing them every day does not add value to your career and therefore does not make you successful in IT or successful in life.

Not Just Another Time Management Lecture
I’m sure at some point in your life you read, or someone told you that time management is essential. It is important. But sometimes we get caught up in the formality of the process and get stuck without ever starting. Maybe you felt rebellious that an authority figure told you to do it, so you don’t because the idea seems outdated. As your mentor, I will tell you, if you’re going to be successful you must create a new habit and manage your time and your money obsessively.

Time Management -> Good Habits -> Time Management
I’m not going to tell you to lay out your schedule to the minute every day on a big life-sized calendar on your bedroom wall. That seems difficult and might be where you get stuck. My point is for you to find a way to remove low-value habits and add high-value habits to your daily routine. Doing so will focus your time and money on improving your life. Where are you spending your time? You need to look at your lifestyle and find ways to change your habits to make better use of your time, or at least, make time to do the things that benefit your career.

Restructure your Time and Resources
We talked a lot about building new, good habits in the last article, so let’s focus this on your resources. Twice a week I take my son to martial arts class. I am required to stay in the building. So I have a choice:

  • I can stand around and stare at the TV… or walls
  • I can stand around and watch him (Which I sometimes do – it is valuable to me)
  • I can use my phone to surf the internet
  • Or, I can add other value to my day

More often than not I sit and plan, write or edit these blog articles. That’s two hours per week that I could lose. Instead, I’ve converted this time from low-value to high-value.

Even Seconds Count
In fact, lots of times I’m sitting around, and a thought pops into my head, one that is worth repeating on this blog. So I write it down in OneNote using any number of devices I have near me at the time (Hooray for “The Cloud.”) I always carry my cell phone to at least record notes. Don’t lose these thoughts. Sometimes they come at very odd times and in various places. Be prepared!

Money is a Powerful Resource – Use it Wisely
Save yourself the Starbucks routine. Invest in a coffee machine, a quality burr grinder, and find some beans you like. You’ll spend $7 per day on your double-soy-mocha-latte-frappe. Save $7 per day, $21 per week, $84 each month ($1000 per year!), and within a few months, you can pay for the new machinery (~$175). Then a few months more pay for that certification exam. Then a few months later the next certification exam you need. Move your money from low-value expenses to high-value expenses. Return on Investment (ROI) is not just a CFO board-room exercise. You should perform ROI analysis on everything you do. How much other crap do you waste your money on then complain you have no money when it comes to high-value items? …and that’s high VALUE. Not high COST! So many times I hear things like, “I can’t afford the plane ticket, hotel costs, and fees for that training course.” Meanwhile, the same person is driving a brand new Audi and patronizing Starbucks twice a day.

MVI – Most Valuable Item
Get yourself a fancy Moleskine notebook that you can take pride in owning. It’s the number one gift I’ve given to new team members and those that I mentor. Invest a bit of your hard-earned money in the tool, and you will use it. We use technology every day in our jobs and lives, but nothing can replace physically writing down notes and ideas. Writing down commits the idea or thought to memory. The VALUE of a notebook exceeds the value of say, a new pair of headphones, or a home-brewed cup of coffee vs. an expensive cup from a favorite café.

Listen – I’m Mentoring Here… Don’t Learn the Hard Way
When I first started out I did not have proper note-taking habits, especially in the office. I made up my mind that I could remember everything that people told me vs. taking notes. It took me a while but I eventually “made up my own mind” (i.e., listened to my boss) and started taking excellent notes. Nowadays I love my mini-grid Moleskine, but I also like my iPad Pro with Apple Pencil with OneNote which sync my notes online and always accessible.  Start your notebook now.

The Cloud
Alternatively, there are endless numbers of systems and applications that can help you manage your time and money. If you’re an app person, search your Apple or Android AppStore. Most any quality app will do better than nothing at all. Instead of $2/each for garbage, low-value games (or worse, $10s of dollars on “bags of gems”), spend $6 or $10 on a high-value app for note taking, planning, or budgeting.

Putting it All Together
You used your money for a high-value item, a fancy notebook. Now use your time for a new high-value habit – managing your time and money better. Write down what you do every day for two weeks. Write down ideas you have about your career. Take notes from this blog or other books and resources. Use those notes to refine the Plan that you built to improve your career.

Small is Big
Something as small as a notebook and a few dollars per day can make a huge difference in your career. Seriously. Buy a notebook right now, and start to build a better habit of time and money management. Today. Right now.

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