“Time is what we want most, but what we use worst.” ~ William Penn
Everyone is given 24 hours in a day. Usually eight of those hours are for sleep, eight are for work, and eight are for you time (or family time). Just like your bank accounts, learning to budget your time is key to reducing stress and achieving your goals. It’s not about time management, it’s about self-management. You have a choice for how you spend your time. The key is finding what works best for you when it comes to planning out your days.
“Ordinary people think merely of spending time. Great people think of using it.” ~ Author Unknown
If you’re looking for some tips on how to plan your days, I have six great ones listed below for making the most of the hours given to you:
1) Time is wasted in minutes, not hours. Make the most of all the time you have, even if it’s just a minute here and there.
2) You can’t do everything, but you can do something. Make sure you keep clear in your mind what is important / not important and urgent / not urgent. Tasks that seem to be urgent, may not necessarily be important. “First Things First” by Stephen Covey dives into this theory, and shows you how you can categorize your important and / or urgent tasks.
3) Make a To-Do list – Plan & Prioritize. Another one of Stephen Covey’s key ideas is all about prioritizing your to-do list, but first you need to plan it out. This means making a list somewhere. Whether it be in your daily planning journal, your blackberry, your Google Calendar, or in a fun web app like TeuxDeux.com, write it down! Put all your tasks in front of you, then go to work on prioritizing what you need to tackle each day.
4) Be Realistic. I know each of us think we are super human and can get ten sizable tasks done each day, but guess what, sometimes that just isn’t possible. Sometimes we have tasks that will take up a big chunk of our day. Or sometimes we get distracted by more urgent tasks that come up out of the blue. When you are planning your day be realistic. Otherwise you will just end up frustrated at the end of it when you are looking at your ten tasks and only three have been completed.
5) Make a decision – Get it Done, Delegate, or Ditch. In other words, don’t procrastinate. When a task comes to you, decide which one of these three things you are going to do with it and make it happen. Don’t let yourself get bogged down in “I’ll look at that tomorrow”.
6) Complete one task each day that you don’t want to do, and tackle it in the morning. We all have those tasks that we know we need to do, but for whatever reason we just don’t want to do them. Maybe it’s making a dentist appointment, or maybe it’s calling that difficult customer. Whatever it is, make a goal to get it done early in the day. That way you can carry on with the rest of your day doing the things you don’t dread.
“If you want to make good use of your time, you’ve got to know what’s most important and then give it all you’ve got.” ~ Lee Iacocca
Keeping these six steps in mind, try to budget a few hours each week to working on your goals. Even if it’s just a couple hours a week, that’s better than nothing. In addition to this, sometimes doing nothing is the right thing to do. If you are always on the go, make sure you give yourself time to relax, meditate, or kick back and read a book. Those moments will give you more energy than you’d expect to refocus and take on the other tasks of the day.
A special thanks to the book “How to Succeed in Anything by Really Trying” by Lyman MacInnis (copyright 2008) for providing the framework of these ideas.
Please share your time-management / self-management comments or questions. I would love to hear from you.
“Take care of the minutes and the hours will take care of themselves.” ~ Lord Chesterfield