How many times have you said things like: “I just didn’t have time,” or “I wish there were more hours in the day,” or “I feel like I can’t get anything done!” This is where time management comes into play. Learning how to better manage your time on projects, e-mails, etc. will lead to a more productive day and less time feeling like you’re behind schedule. There are six steps to better time management.
Write out your priorities. What are the top 5 most important things in your life? At work? The easiest way to determine this is: What are you least willing to give up? Then you must schedule your priorities. Stephen Covey says, “The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule but to schedule your priorities.” One big misconception in time management is that whatever you do not schedule will not happen. However, by getting your big priorities managed, you’ll still be able to get to the smaller tasks you’re afraid you’ll miss.
- 1. Manage Short-Term crises and problems – items that are important and urgent.
2. Focus on Long-Term strategic goals – important but not urgent.
3. Avoid Distractions and Interruptions – urgent, but not important.
4. Limit Time Wasting Activities – Not important, and not urgent.
Keep in mind – no one is going to ask you to do the things that are important to you. If you have many people asking for 15 minutes of your time, you must remember for each person it’s only 15 minutes, but if four people do it in a row, that’s an hour of your productivity time.
John Maxwell suggests a formula to organize his to-do list. Rate the task in terms of importance:
- • Critical = 5 points
• Necessary = 4 points
• Important = 3 points
• Helpful = 2 points
• Marginal = 1 point
You can also rank by the urgency of the task at hand:
- • This month = 5 points
• Next month = 4 points
• This quarter = 3 points
• Next quarter = 2 points
• End of year = 1 point
Then you can multiply the rate of importance by the rate of urgency:
For example, 4 (necessary) x 4 (next month) = 16
Now assign each task a number and make a to-do list based on the overall worthiness of each task on the list. You must also schedule the time for the things from your new to-do list. How much time do you schedule? Add for 1.5 times the amount that you think you’ll need.
Contrary to what you’ve usually been told, do the easiest things first. We’re usually told to tackle the difficult tasks first to get them out of the way. But according to Michael Hyatt, doing the easiest thing puts us into motion, fuels our emotions with a sense of accomplishment and gives us momentum.
You should set aside time for yourself. Literally. Book however long you need on your calendar to block out that time. This can be anything – catching up on e-mails, paperwork that needs to be filled out, even being creative. Booking this time makes sure that you will do it and that others have a clear expectation of when you are available and when you are not.
Create artificial deadlines for yourself. For example, if you need something done by Friday, set a deadline for Wednesday. Parkinson’s Law states that “Work expands to the time allotted for it.” When we set artificial deadlines for ourselves, we are more prone to finish work on time and more prone to work efficiently.
We will be back next week with the remaining steps to help you manage your time better! In the meantime, share below in the comments any of your thoughts or ideas on how you manage your time.