One certainty in life is that time is limited. While no one’s sure exactly how many years they’ll be given to finish doing what they want to do, everything’s equal for each day you are given.
Everyone has the same 86,400 seconds in a day to dream, determine goals, and complete tasks that will help them achieve those goals… But doesn’t it seem like some people are just better at time management than others?
Surprisingly, there are some time management secrets that make you feel like you have more hours in each of your days.
There are really only four choices:
1. Most important
2. Most urgent
3. Least important
4. Least urgent
When you identify tasks and set your priorities carefully by what’s important over not important, as well as avoid having issues of urgency each day, you can get a handle on your time in ways that you never thought possible.
This also prevents what I like to call “productive procrastination”. If you know where your priorities are, you won’t be able to justify not getting to them because you did something else that was productive, but definitely not a priority.
Learn to Say “NO”
Saying no is probably one of the most important things youíll ever learn to say.
Most of us were conditioned to move away from having the word “no” in our vocabulary from an early age.
It’s time to learn how to say no again. If something’s not right for you, is too “urgent”, causes you stress, or you just do not want to do it and it doesn’t fit in with your goals, say no!
Saying no will free up untold amounts of time to focus on your priorities.
Unplug the phone, turn off email notifications, and take a break from Facebook. If you haven’t completed the most important tasks on your daily list, focus your energy there instead.
The idea of multitasking is overrated, so unplug and tune in to the tasks at hand. You’ll work faster, smarter, and gain the time you need for other things.
Honor Your Schedule
Your priorities need to be added to your calendar.
Everything from the 15 minutes you need to call your cousin and wish them happy birthday, to the one hour you take your kids to the park, needs to be put into your calendar. If you have a project due in a week, you should have five days of scheduled time to work on the project prior to the due date. This will help prevent it from becoming overwhelming and overly urgent.
Tune Out Interruptions
Unless the house is on fire or a child is bleeding, the telephone ringing and knocks on your office door are usually not important.
They are interruptions.
Check your email at scheduled times during the day, explain to your children, spouse, and other family when you are working, and otherwise ignore the door bell. If you didn’t schedule it, you don’t need it.
One Word: Outsource
Whether it’s the housework, cooking, or customer service, it’s important to outsource what you can afford to outsource.
There are huge payoffs to outsourcing the things that are simply time suckers from your day.
You can also delegate tasks to other members in your household. There’s no reason that you’re the only one who can cook dinner or take out the trash. Let everyone share in the responsibilities.
Multitasking is the enemy of efficiency.
Instead, seek to touch each task only once and finish it. For example, when you check the mail immediately throw out the trash, schedule bills to be paid, and deal with any issues that came up with a letter – right then. Of course, your mail time should be scheduled as well so that you can stay on track.
Check in with your schedule
At least twice a day, set out the time to check your schedule.
I always go over my schedule first thing in the morning, then check in with it mid-day to make sure I’m staying on track. I usually check it in the afternoon, and then go over my schedule for the following day before I go to bed at night.
This helps to ensure that you have your priorities in order, you can add anything new to your schedule that needs to be added, and you can remind yourself of what is expected the next day. (Because we’ve all had those “Oh S%#” moments when there’s been something we totally forgot was scheduled that day!)
Checking your schedule helps you feel accomplished at the end of the day, and reminds you of what’s coming up tomorrow.
I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to be serious about following your schedule and calendar.
It’s like creating your own personal GPS for each and every day.
You can use technology to help such as Google Calendar or Outlook, synced to your smartphone to help you remember what it is that you should be doing now, and next.
It may seem a bit extra to be so serious about a schedule, but it’s this one factor that makes these surprising time management tips work so well.
If you want more guidance on getting a handle on your time each day, click below to get my free Taking Back Your Time guide. You’ll learn the top 10 time traps, identify your own, and create a personalized action plan!
Do you have any tried and true methods for managing your time? Share them in the comments below!
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