Good time management is based on knowing what has to be done, assigning priorities to each task and then starting to do the most important things first. Never work on a B or C priority task, until you have completed the entire A priority tasks. There are many systems in time management for determining what priority a task should have, taking into account urgency, importance, and so on. Frankly, I think the A, B, C system works best due to its simplicity. Don’t spend a lot of time agonising over if it is a B or a C, just make a judgment call on it and move on. Many people trying to manage their time get lost in the process of assigning priorities; make your choice and begin to take action.
It helps to set priorities based on what gives you the most “bang for the buck”. According to the Pareto Principle, 20% of what you do accounts for 80% of the value you receive during the day. Find that 20% and make sure you do everything in that area first.When working on your tasks, take your overall goals into account. Remember everything counts, and if you take action or don’t take action on something, it counts. Everything you do either moves you towards your goals, or it takes you away from your goals. Nothing is neutral.
Using your time effectively today actually starts the night before. To have the most effective use of your time tomorrow, write down everything you have to do tonight. This helps your mind work on the things you have to do while you sleep and lets you start the day in an organised fashion.
During the day, use visualisation techniques to help you see yourself accomplishing the things you have outlined on the To Do list. Use “daydreams” to see yourself doing what you need to get done.
When planning what tasks you will work on, formulate a “time budget” to go with each step, so you understand what is involved and how much can be done in a day. A time budget also helps you evaluate the return you will receive from the task, such as outlined above. Allot 10% extra time to the task than you think it will take, so you are not thrown off by all the little details that come up, that are impossible to plan for.
Estimate what your time is worth and delegate work that gives you a lower return. Perhaps it pays to hire a part time person, have documents delivered by couriers, and use a telephone service and so on.
Make sure you take into account your personal effectiveness at various points in the day, so you work on the most stressful things when you are at your peak. Use your less effective time periods to return calls, hold meetings, etc.
Taking care of your health will give you more time. You will have less sick days, work more effectively and so on, if you are in good physical shape. Get more exercise, watch what you eat, don’t smoke and do all those good things your parents told you to do.
We all have the same amount of time in the day, so you need to capture more of it to use on your priority tasks. You must learn to say no to people, telephone calls and email requests, etc that come at you, if they don’t move you towards completing one of your priority tasks.
Remember, don’t try to make things perfect, just get them started. Many of us work on something until it is absolutely perfect, but most of the time the task doesn’t require perfection. Move the task into the “good enough” stage and let go of it. The time difference between “good enough” and perfect is enormous and rarely worth it from a payback standpoint.
“All work and no play makes…” , you know the rest! Reward yourself for accomplishing your time management goal, by giving yourself rewards for each task you complete. This helps avoid burn out and keeps you motivated.
If you are doing many of the things described above and still not making progress, you need to take a time log to track how you spend you time versus what you really need to do. Compare the reality to the plan and see what you need to fix. Also, it may be that you still have too many tasks on your to do list and need to cut back your commitments further. If you think procrastination is your problem, remind yourself of the major reason you need to do the task you are avoiding, this will help you move through the task. Also, ask for help from other people when you find yourself stuck for some reason. Many times, a little advice from others can save you lots of time down the road. Perhaps a team approach would help you accomplish your tasks faster; remember TEAM means Together Everyone Achieves More.
Constantly ask yourself what you can be doing to move your A priority tasks ahead. Things are constantly changing, so new opportunities to expedite a task come up throughout the day.
The most important factor in time management is actually taking action. All the planning in the world won’t help you if you don’t take the actions needed. Make sure you move beyond the planning stage and into the action stage as soon as you can.
Effective time management isn’t easy, but it is within everyone’s capability. Start now to change the way you manage your time and you will see more and more rewards in terms of completed tasks, lowered stress, and even more fun in your life.