Updated: Nov 6
Time management is probably one of the most overly used terms in business and in our personal lives. The fact remains, while there is much documentation about this challenge, we all struggle to fit our "to-do-list" into our limited schedules.
Let's start with some baseline understanding. 1 = 86,400. Also, 24 = 86,400. Furthermore, 1,440 = 86,400. What I am trying to illustrate is that time is a fixed asset. We can look at it from different angles; 1 day, 24 hours, or 1,440 minutes in a day, but the result is that we only have 86,400 seconds in a day.
I invite you to consider my formula when trying to figure out how to manage your time. TM = P(2) + D(2).
Effective Time Management = Plan + Prioritize + Discipline + Determination.
When we think of time management, we need to plan what we will manage. In this case, we need to prepare for the things we want to accomplish at any given time. As an example, invest 5 to 10 minutes of your day in thinking about all the things you need to get done during that day. The best time to do this is after you wake up. For some people, it is beneficial to write down their "to-do-list" so that they can refer back to it when needed.
Nowadays, we have more tasks in need of attention than time to complete them. Therefore, we need to focus on the critical tasks at hand. To be effective, we need to start with the "to-do-list" and prioritize. You are welcome to use any method that helps you separate the Must-Do from the Might-Do. You can consider using a "high-medium-low" or a "1-2-3" approach to assign value to each activity. Remember to balance your list between long/complicated activities and short/easy to do activities to ensure you have a proper equilibrium. The schedule should include some "me" time, where you focus on yourself for a little while. Also, add some "Free" time, where you disconnect from every activity. This overall assessment should take you 5 to 10 minutes every day. What will be key is to ensure you set realistic expectations. Do not fall into the trap of thinking you can do more what you can manage.
Once you have drafted your list of priorities, take a few minutes to build a discipline around how you are going to accomplish the list of tasks. A timetable or some schedule will become very handy to help you organize your to-dos. Assign estimated times for each activity on your schedule. Consider giving extra time to long/complex activities and less time to the short/easy to do activities. Avoid distractions at all costs and remain focused. This activity should take about 5 to 10 minutes.
After you have done the exercise to build your "to-do-list," have prioritized your tasks/activities, and have built a schedule to accomplish them, you will need to have the determination and the control to put this plan in place and execute it. Your commitment to ensure these tasks are completed will be the difference between success and failure. There is no perfect plan. There is always room for deviation; however, your focus and termination can assist you in meeting your objectives. If there is no determination to do what needs to get done, procrastination takes over, and that is when time management becomes just a wishful thinking and not a possible reality.
Unforeseen challenges impact your plan. When it happens, make sure deviations do not prevent you from meeting your initial objectives. If needed, re-prioritize or update your plan. Avoid the illusion that you can fit more activities into your schedule without compromising quality. Make sure to apply the lessons learned the next time you need to build a time management schedule. This way, you can learn from your past and prepare for your future.
If it helps, find a motivation to complete your tasks. Incorporate a personal reward system that you can activate as soon as you complete your "to-do-list." Knowing that you will be compensated at the end of the journey will drive you to get to the finish line.
Effective Time Management is an art. It takes several tries to develop and master. Before you can be considered proficient, you are expected to experience trial-and-error, setback, and disappointments. But once you get good at it, you would have developed a critical ability which will improve your professional and personal life.
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