Becoming a successful investor has as much to do with factors such as disclipline and overcoming the failings of our brains.
Most of the highly successful investors I meet have one thing in common – excellent time management. They make time for their investing or business activities and focus 100% on the task in hand.
"Do you ever do non-work things in work time?" I asked financial planner and property investor Lisa Dudson recently. "NEVER", came the answer. It's no wonder she can run more than one business, as well as own a string of rental properties and other investments on the side. She allots time to each activity and focuses.
An hour a week dedicated to personal financial planning and investment is all most people need. But finding that hour, and focusing, is a big problem.
Some of the steps towards good time management involve:
- Work out what your time is worth to you on an hourly basis and think of the cost of everything you do
- Keeping a time management diary for a week or even a month, recording exactly what you do all day long. It's worth having a column to list distractions as well
- Analyse your findings and look where time savings can be made by ditching activities, grouping them together or multi tasking. Email guru and mother of five Debbie Mayo-Smith once told me that when watching her kids' sports activities, she power walks around the field for the duration (exercise) whilst listening to podcasts (personal and professional development)
- Try to identify road blocks and look for creative ways to overcome them. For example, when I discovered I procrastinated too often and then got anxious about outstanding tasks, I programmed myself to repeat the following mantra: "DO IT NOW"
- Write a Time Management Matrix for yourself – this will classify activities according to importance and urgency and only takes five minutes
There are plenty of time management tools around and I've listed some good ones at the end of this blog.
Or if you need a kick start, time management courses abound - although if you're like me, actually finding the time to go to a course might be difficult. The answer for you may be an online course and if you visit one of my favourite websites: Worldwidelearn.com you'll find plenty.
Poor time management often has deep roots and a short course isn't always sufficient. Some adults have undiagnosed attention deficit disorder. Or it may be that programming from childhood sabotages good intentions.
These and other roadblocks can be cleared by self-help (there are thousands of books on the subject), or by getting professional help.
Personally I like the way so many Americans pay therapists as they would an accountant. But if psychotherapy is too socially unacceptable for you, then a coach or mentor can help keep you honest to your goals although they don't have the same level of training.
Finally, I've been investigating the concept of Mindfulness which involves learning to become aware of the current moment – which is great for procrastinators and other disorganised types to find that extra hour a week.