Does it seem that you never have enough time in the day? Have you ever looked back at your day and thought, “I didn’t get anything accomplished, but I was busy?”
Some people seem to thrive on “being busy.” For them it’s like an adrenaline rush. They scurry from task to task and from person to person. But many times, they aren’t getting the job done. We all have the same 24 hours in a day and the same 168 hours in a week. (But don’t try to work all of them!) We have to figure out how to best use these hours to concentrate on achieving results, not on being busy.
To get you started on managing your time better, here are eight strategies that I recommend. Choose one of these strategies, try it for two to four weeks and see if it helps. If it does, keep doing it, and consider adding another one. If not, try a different one.
That may be the most important time management tip of all: pay attention to what works for you, and keep doing it!
#1–Set goals. Know where you’re going and aim high. For every long-term goal you set, make sure you set many short and medium-term goals. This ensures that you have momentum, because you’re knocking out small tasks while making progress on the big ones.
#2–Break large goals into smaller tasks. You’ve probably heard this quote: “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” Take your short and medium-term goals and break them into smaller tasks you can achieve along the way.
#3–Plan. Do your weekly planning on Monday morning so you can structure your week and know what to accomplish. Then, instead of doing your daily planning each morning, do it the night before. You’ll sleep better and wake up less stressed.
#4–Prioritize your tasks. This ensures that you spend your time and energy on the tasks that are truly important to meet your goals. It’s easy to allow unimportant tasks to consume your time. The reason? Everything is stressful until you analyze how much it matters.
Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important. -Steven Covey
#5–Learn to say no. It really is OK to say “no”. Think about YOUR goals and schedule before you say “yes” to take on addition work and over commit.
#6–Take the time to do it right the first time. Doing quality work the first time may take more time upfront, but reworking and making corrections take more time overall.
#7–Beat procrastination. Practice the 10-minute rule: Do you have task(s) that you dread? Try spending 10 minutes/daily on this.
#8–Make yourself un-interruptible. We get distracted—phone calls, emails, colleagues, and social media. But you allow this to happen. If you really need to get work done, limit distractions. Block out time for your important tasks—even if that means closing your door, turning off your phone and other electronic devices, and putting a sign on your door.
It’s impossible to get everything done, but you can concentrate on achieving results instead of being busy. Remember to try a strategy for two to four weeks and see if it works. If it doesn’t work for you, try a different one. If it helps you, keep doing it and consider adding another one.
Lastly: don’t compare your own time management techniques to that of other people. We are all motivated different ways, and we all have different patterns that work for us. Keep experimenting.
Good luck tackling your time management challenge! Come back any time for more inspiration on how to improve.