Today’s post was written by the folks over at Built For Teams.
Feeling bogged down and pressed for precious time you don’t seem to have? Having a hard time balancing work with other areas of your life? Are you stressed and overwhelmed by your every growing ‘to-do’ list?
Trying to find time to squeeze meetings, emails, phone calls, family dinners, birthdays, date nights, little league baseball games, company parties, family vacations, and so on and so forth into a short 24-hour period is daunting for most every working man or woman. So how does one go about stopping being a slave to time and becoming the master of it? By using the following 5 time management tips you can start to feel in control of your time and life!
Remember: Everyone has the same allotted time in a day. It’s how we choose to use that time that makes all the difference.
1. Choose Your Success
It is very important before you start the next 4 time management tips that you define what success is to you in all areas of your life. This includes(but is not limited to):
This step is crucial in that helps you clearly define and determine what success means to you at the end of the day. For example, if your success is having a great relationship with your daughter then you wont want to jeopardize that by scheduling your meetings during her dance recital.
2. Know Where Your Time is Going
For a week, from the time you wake up until your head hits the pillow, record where all of your time is going. This log will help you to see what areas of your life where you are putting the most time and effort, how much time is spent being productive vs un-productive, and It will also help you to see areas in which you can improve on.
3. Get focused
Once you have a weeks worth of your time recorded, get focused and set priorities.
Firstly, Determine which areas need improvement. Improvement could mean spending more or less of your time in that area.
Secondly, determine the areas of your life that deserve your time by using Covey & Merrill’s time management matrix. This matrix is split into the following four quadrants:
- Not Urgent
- Not Important
Put all of your time commitments into the category of choice. Those time commitments that are logged under both important and urgent take precedence over those items which are important but not urgent and so on a so forth.
Lastly, ‘to-do’ lists seems to grow and grow and grow until we can’t even stand to look at that list without sheer terror. Might I suggest using an appointment book instead. An appointment book allows you jot down ALL of your commitments in ALL areas of life. It allows you to see when you have the time allotted to get a certain task done. An appointment book also allows you to:
- Feel less stressed by an ever growing list
- Schedules your task for you so it becomes a planned priority
- Helps you to see all of your time commitments before over-booking yourself
4. Get & Stay Organized
In my experience, disorganization results in poor time management. An appointment book and work space that are both organized and functional help you to know where all your important documents and tools are in order to get things done and done right.
If you are unsure of where to start in your organization process here are a few tips to get you started. First, de-clutter. Second, create a working space that allows you to handle all incoming information, projects, etc. An example of this system includes:
- Throw away or delete
- Delegate items/tasks
- Act on it (discard, save for a specified time, or file)
- Complete task/item & file permanently or discard
5. Put Your Time On a Schedule
We live in a day where we have endless distractions at our finger tips. Technology is a great tool but don’t let it run your life by sucking away your precious time. Practice not answering phone calls or emails just because your phone is going off. Stay off of social media accounts during other time commitments.
It’s common now days for a resume to read ‘great multi-tasker’. Though this may be a great attribute in some jobs or areas of life, it is fact not the most efficient way to get tasks done in a timely manner. When you are skipping around on a handful of projects your focus is so scattered that you spend more time than was necessary to get that particular project done. Instead, focus on one task at a time. Once a task is completed or time is up move on to another task.
Create Time Blocks
This is perhaps my favorite way of putting my time on a schedule. Too often we can loose track of time doing a certain project by not creating ‘time blocks’. Create time blocks for all the areas of importance in your life such as; family, work, religion, personal, etc. Some of these areas may need to be broken down even further. Example: Work. Break it down into business meeting, phone calls, emails, business proposal write up, etc. Designate an allotted amount of time for each of these areas. Set a timer if you need to. Once time is up on ta particular project, move on to the next. You will find you will accomplish much more throughout the day and you won’t feel as far behind.
Plan for Distractions
Schedule time for distractions, but remember you are the one who decides how much time you will give to that distraction. My only suggestion for this is to not make your schedule so rigid that it throws off your entire day if an unexpected distraction comes in the form of say a flat tire.
Schedule Time Off
Making time for you to completely disconnect from all things work related allows you to recharge and reset. We were not built to run on turbo forever. We need to take the time for our health, sanity, families, and even our work by scheduling mandatory time off.
Gain control over your time and stop feeling overwhelmed by work commitments creeping into your family/personal time. You are in control of your time and priorities.
What has been your experience with the above time management techniques? Please leave your comments in the box below.
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