Time is a non-negotiable, non-renewable resource, but somehow, we seem to forget this, especially when we become overwhelmed. But if you can remove distractions and prioritize important tasks, you can do more and end up a lot happier, too.
Consider this: Do you proactively engage in your day or simply “fall into activity”? In many ways, time is always of the essence, isn’t it? So, it’s up to you to effectively manage your time amidst a sea of competing interests. The thing is, we have far more control than we give ourselves credit for.
Here are three ways that you can immediately take control of and manage your time:
Begin with the end in mind.
Before starting your week, identify the most important tasks that you need to accomplish, as well as the specific results that you seek. Limit your list to no more than three to five items and schedule them based on rigor. Be careful not to assign equally taxing items on the same day. Allocate a specific period of time to accomplish each, approaching them with a sense of urgency. When a competing interest arises, ask: Is this activity appropriate given what I need to accomplish today? Every once in a while, a dilemma may arise and take precedence, but less frequently than you might think. Evaluate your success by how many critical outcomes remain outstanding by the week’s end. Your goal is to be at a completion rate of 90% or greater. Carry over any uncompleted outcomes to the next week.
It may seem difficult to avoid the lure of people, technology and other attractive nuisances when compared to “work,” but remember that you’re responsible for the choices you make. What’s the best choice? Confront distractions. You already know your vices—where you’re likely to fall down. Why not take away the enticement in advance? Recognize distractions for what they are and realize that by mindlessly engaging with them, you lose precious time—time that could be better spent doing the things that matter the most. Evaluate your success by how well you navigated each distraction—proactively confronted, without succumbing—as well as whether you achieved the critical outcome at hand.
Evaluate your results.
By taking a closer look at your performance, you can determine where you need to make adjustments. Evaluation should occur at two critical benchmarks: daily and weekly. While everything is still fresh in your mind, do a quick assessment at the end of each day. Is there anything that sticks out? If so, consider the impact it’s having on your time and performance. It is positive or negative? Abandon whatever isn’t working and indulge whatever is.
At the end of the week, do a global assessment. Look for patterns and trends. Did you notice time periods that were easy to work within? How about repeated distractions? Whatever you find, go beyond observations. Use what you discover to help you successfully manage your time and maximize your results.
Bottom line: Don’t “fall into activity.” Set yourself up for success. Be proactive by using these strategies to harness the power of time management.