Wednesday, February 24, 2016
Baker’s Dozen Rules for Proper Time Management
How do you handle managing your time? Do you have a philosophy or best practices by which you swear for time management?
If you’ve been reading my blog awhile, you know I believe in managing our actions and the tools at our disposal rather than talking about time management as there’s nothing we can do to change how each day is limited to only 1,440 minutes. Still, this National Time Management Month is a great time to discuss some basic principles for best investing our limited time.
Here are some of what I recommend as basic principles for investing your time and, thereby, making every minute matter:
1. Saying yes to doing one thing means no to another. As time is a limited resource, we cannot invest the same minutes in multiple ways, and we can’t get back what minutes we’ve already invested elsewhere.
2. Be proactive in planning how to invest your time with monthly reviews of what’s upcoming, weekly strategy sessions to draft plans and daily wrap-ups.
3. Assign a “when” to each “what” to get more done. I have yet to find a calendar with “someday” but I complete tasks for which I’ve set aside time.
4. Plan no more than 3 – 5 “must-do” tasks per day. It is easy to feel like we are superheroes who can complete endless lists of to-do items; however, we are all human and can do only so much with what time we are gifted daily.
5. Enlist your energy level as a productivity tool. If your energy peaks first-thing in the morning, you may choose to tackle your most difficult tasks first; however, if your energy peaks later in the workday, you may prefer to start with easier tasks and build momentum to do your more difficult work later.
6. Align your actions with your priorities and goals to prevent burnout. As what’s important may shift over time related to work, home, community or society and the private realm of mind, body and spirit, continually audit how you are investing your time and focus your actions to what’s important.
7. Delegate or automate when you can. Consider resources like Fancy Hands, Fiverr, Guru, Help Tap, Moonlighting, Task Rabbit, Thumbtack, Upwork and 99Designs to enlist others’ help for getting things done; alternatively, If This Then That, Podbox, Zapier and social media managers like Buffer, Edgar, Falcon Social, Hootsuite, SocialOomph and Sprout Social help you “set it and forget it” so things happen without you having to invest your time to do it all.
8. Keep a list readily available of which tasks can be done in a 10- or 30-minute time slot so you are prepared to hit the ground running when those free moments magically appear.
9. End procrastination. Break projects into bite-sized actions so each step is less daunting. Ask for help or seek direction on anything that is ambiguous. If a task takes less than 5 minutes, just do it. Assign rewards for celebrating successful completion of tasks or ramifications for missed deadlines.
10. Utilize a timer. Get started on a “big, hairy, audacious” goal. Capitalize on how activity breeds activity. Attack challenging tasks for shorter times. Stay on task when working for a longer period of time. Energize greater results with shorter spans of effort.
11. Limit distractions. Turn off the pings and dings for notifications. Send your phone directly to voicemail as needed. Set a timer for how long you will use social media. Consider working remotely at times. Employ technology (like KeepMeOut, LeechBlock, Nanny, SelfContol and StayFocused) to block distracting websites temporarily.
12. Manage your tech instead of letting it manage you. Typical smartphone users check their phones 150 times a day, and it takes time to re-focus on the task at hand whenever distracted by our tech tools. Start with these tips to manage email and, then, make your mobile device a tool working for you rather than technology to chain or confine you.
13. Do not confuse immediate or urgent with important. What are the consequences of getting something done sooner versus later? When folks get you to stop working on what is important to achieving your goals in order to address their needs, they are managing your time; if you were unavailable, whether due to meetings or travel, an immediate issue would have to wait.
What tactics do you utilize for making every minute matter? Have you had success with any of those listed above or will you be implementing any of these strategies?