Most people view time management as a way to more effectively use their time. However, they are focusing on managing the wrong thing. The focus needs to be on managing yourself and what you choose to do at any particular moment.
The fact is that you don’t manage time. Rather, you control and manage events and the choices you make about how to use your time. How you use your time is a personal decision. It’s all about prioritizing. Use the following steps to make yourself aware of the choices you make every day with regards to your time so you can make the most of it.
You don’t manage time. Rather, you control and manage events and the choices you make on how to use your time.
1. Chart your time.
Because you need to manage what you do and not time itself, you need to create a schedule. Detail what you want to do during a day. What are the important things you must do? What things would you like to do? However, don’t create your schedule as your day progresses. Rather, do it the night before or in the early morning before you start your day. If you don’t choose to create a detailed schedule of your day, other unplanned events will end up stealing your precious time.
While most people realize the importance of scheduling and creating to-do lists, they fail to realize that scheduling is a two-step process. Once you’ve finished your day, you must go back over your schedule to see how you did with your planned tasks. Did you spend the amount of time you allotted for the tasks? Did you spend some of the time you allotted for one activity on something completely different? You might be surprised when you examine your schedule at the end of the day to discover how much time you actually wasted.
2. Learn to say no.
Realize that it is impossible to be all things to all people. You need to maintain balance in your life, so don’t overextend yourself by taking on so many projects and tasks that you won’t be able to properly manage them in your schedule. To do so, you must learn to say no.
Realize that your time is just as precious as everyone else’s. If you don’t decide what to do during your day, other people will fill your schedule for you with their agenda. If you don’t say no, Parkinson’s Law can take effect: Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.
Once you have your detailed schedule of your day and you’ve said no to anything extra you could not realistically manage, you can prioritize your activities. The more detailed and specific your schedule is, the more you will have to prioritize what you need to do during the day.
Rank each item in order of importance and then follow that. Don’t put something off that you ranked as very important just because it involves dealing with a difficult person or is very time consuming. If you do, you will just continue to put it off, and it will never get done. In addition, consider all the time you’re wasting thinking about this dreaded task. By the time you’ve thought it through, you could have already completed it.
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Jack Perry, author of Jack, You’re Fired, is senior vice president for a division of John Hancock. A renowned leadership coach and speaker, he has four decades of experience in sales, motivation and retirement planning. For more information, visit www.respectfactor.com or call 800-334-4437.