Raise your hand if you’ve ever heard of the term “Time Management”? Now, you can put your hand down. I know all of us have heard of the so acclaimed Time Management skill and how important it is to our everyday lives. People talk about time management in school, home, at work, and any other setting you can think of. Funny enough, even after hearing about time management over, and over, and over again, the vast majority of us still struggle to find time for what’s important.
We are in a safe environment here, no judging. I have been guilty of poor time management numerous times. Especially when my routine needs to change, there’s always that adjusting period where it seems that nothing goes right and you don’t have time to do anything but work and school, and you look like a character from the Walking Dead, but … the point is how to handle it moving forward.
Over time, however, I’ve seen, learned, and implemented strategies that help me make the best of my time. And by that I mean investing my time on what’s really important like finishing a big project in a timely manner, finalizing a homework assignment, spending time with family, or simply take some time off to unwind and recharge (by sleeping, catching up on TV shows, K-dramas, anime series, etc., gotta have priorities, right?). While at the same time accomplishing professional, educational, and personal goals.
I won’t lie to you and tell you it’s easy. It’s not. However, it’s not impossible and if you’re tired of being tired, and thinking that you don’t have time to do anything but drone on in life…well you’re in the right place.
Today I want to share with you how to make the best of your time by applying 3 simple concepts:
That’s it. It really is that simple.
Ah, it becomes simple after you get in the right mindset.
Having the right mindset is super important, because that will determine your success in practically anything that you decide to do. Our minds can be our best allies or most damaging enemies. If we have the will to achieve something and we really believe we can, we go for it, and more often than not we get where we wanted to be. Think about it, I’m sure there is at least one instance where you wanted to achieve something and despite the obstacles you made it possible. In those cases your determination and mindset were key to that success. However, the opposite is also true, if we are not motivated enough, we let others (negatively) influence our decisions more than they should, or if we don’t think we can’t get to the goal, we are more inclined to give up when fatigue has caught up with us (both mental and physical) –or worse, we don’t even try.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
Getting into the right mindset is hard enough –believe me, I know. But have your end goal in mind and know that whatever obstacles come your way, and regardless of how long it takes, “you will achieve your goals.”
Now that we’ve had our pep talk of the day let’s go back to our 3 keys to effective time management.
I don’t simply mean to buy an agenda and write your commitments in there. Do you even refer back to it? No, you don’t. There I said it. (And this is coming from the person who buys agendas every year). They are not useless, don’t get me wrong. But if we are not disciplined enough to review them daily (or at least every other day) there is no point in writing things in there.
Instead try this:
-Create a To-Do list, either daily or weekly depending on your needs, and write down the projects that you MUST complete for that time period. If you’re having a hard time doing this, then go ahead and write up to 10 things that you believe need to get done.
I suggest you start off with daily lists to get into the habit and then upgrade to weekly after you’ve mastered the daily To Do’s.
-Once you’ve created your list, take a few minutes to separate your list into Professional and Personal items, and try to rank them in urgency.
Okay you’ve now completed the very first step in organizing your time.Congrats!
Now let’s move on to step number deux.
Nothing hard, really. You’ve already done the hard work of jotting down the tasks that need to get done. Now take a look again and see their order of importance. There might be a difference into what we believe is extremely important versus what actually is important. So how do we order our tasks by their actual importance?
Start by asking yourself the following questions:
- What needs to get done TODAY? Then rank your items by deadline.
- What will take me the longest to finalize? Put those that would require the least amount of time first -then you’ll have more time for the most difficult tasks.
- Can you delegate a portion of the task(s)? If so, then start delegating.
- What can wait (and for how long)? Leave these tasks towards the very bottom, and still rank them by deadline.
After you’ve re-organized your tasks…
Cross off tasks that didn’t meet your Priority Test (refer to step 2), and take it from there. More likely than not, you will be able to accomplish things that are of highest priority sooner than you expect, and then you can move on to those that are lower on your list or were crossed off for that particular day.
When you are eliminating tasks from your list, definitely look for those that can be done later without any negative consequences.
As for your Professional vs. Personal items, definitely start off with the professional ones (your success on the job is dependant on those tasks) and then move on to the personal ones (unless you waited to pay your bills till the very last day… then get that taken care of first).
My final thoughts on time management…
- Start to get yourself in the habit of understanding the priority of your tasks and take it from there
- Don’t be all business, and allow yourself personal time but take care of the things that need to get done first
- Make sure that your list is visible
- Celebrate your successes and don’t dwell over your failures
- Once you get into the habit of daily and weekly To Do Lists (and successfully complete them), then move on to create a strategic calendar where you include monthly and yearly goals –things won’t be as daunting anymore 😉
- Lastly, take it one day at a time…
What are your tips for successful time management? I would love to read your thoughts below!