|Organize for Success® Turns 10|
Today, let's cover my top 10 favorite time management tips:
10. Have clarity on what matters most. Each of us has goals for home, work, the community or society and ourselves, including mind, body and spirit. Knowing how we rank those priorities can guide our decisions for best managing our time. What we classify as priorities will likely fluctuate over time, and we often must trust our guts to know what's important when faced with new options.
9. Learn how and when to say no. Each day offers only 1,440 minutes to accomplish what matters most. Saying yes to doing something means saying no to anything else using that time; no amount of time can be spent twice, and investing time does not give a return of even more time back. However, by saying no to something that isn't a high enough priority to earn time in your schedule, you open up time for successfully completing whichever goals you have ranked as those mattering most.
8. Be proactive, not reactive. When a team goes into a game, its coaches have scouted the opponent, determined which of the team's strengths match up best to the opponent's weaknesses and created a game plan. The plan will be adjusted during the game, but there is at least a foundation from which to get started. The same philosophy applies to your week, where you are at the whim of others' priorities if you are unclear about what matters most to you. Once you know your priorities, create a plan for how to use your limited time in achieving those throughout the week, tweaking it as needed to stay on track. You'll be able to see what you want to accomplish, which will keep you on the path to getting it done.
7. Start with what is most important. If you fill your life with the little things that don't really matter or don't fuel the results you desire, you have little to no time for more meaningful things. Instead, if you purposefully make room in each week or day to address actions driving what matters most, there is still room in your life to fill in with some of those less meaningful actions, but you'll move more rapidly towards achieving your priority goals. Click here for a video illustration using rocks, pebbles, sand and mason jars to visualize this approach to time management.
6. Evaluate each to-do for determining next steps. The Eisenhower Decision Principle provides a matrix created by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, which groups actions by level of importance and level of urgency. When a task is both important and urgent, follow Nike's advice and "Just do it." When a task is important but not urgent, you must decide when it can get done, including a specific "when" for each "what" to be accomplished. When a task is urgent but not important, consider delegating it; likewise, when a task is not urgent and not important, consider deleting it. Often, I work through my data dump of all that I think should be done by asking these questions: Does this task truly need to be completed? If not, can I delete it? If it must get done, does it need to be done by me? If not, to whom can I delegate it? With this tool, you can move more tasks from to-do to done.
5. Manage tasks more productively. Every project needs to be broken down into smaller, more manageable action steps; each of those actions should be assigned a deadline so there is an associated timeline. When creating each day's to-do list, be sure to include no more than 3 - 5 must-do tasks and start each with a verb to drive action; then, review at the end of each day what should be carried over while creating an equally manageable list for the following day. Incorporate only what must be done by you and take back your time by delegating or deleting anything else.
4. Express your positivity daily. At the end of each day, celebrate all you've accomplished in the day that's ending, acknowledging these wins motivates doing more as success breeds greater success. Likewise, at the same time, make note of that for which you are grateful, whether one item or a list of things, and be sure to include all areas of your life when noting your gratitude.
3. End each day with the next in mind. Plan from where your meals will come, including breakfast, lunch and dinner. Will you pack your lunch or eat out? Do you need to put something in the slow-cooker that evening or in the morning? Then, check the forecast as well as the schedule and pick out each detail of what will be necessary for the next day's outfit, including jewelry, undergarments and purse. Finally, make sure you have gas in your car, and leave what you'll need to take with you near your door.
2. Utilize all available resources. As you are filling your productivity toolbox, never limit your options to technology; consider streamlining your workflow processes, creating an organized workspace in which you know where things are stored, hire consultants whose expertise enhance what you already know or do, outsource what needs to be done but not necessarily by you, implement boundaries appropriate for your circumstances and, then, evaluate whether paper or electronic tools might better meet your specific needs for things like meeting notes, time commitments, tasks, contacts and calendaring. Click here for a checklist of what types of tools you might need and to evaluate what holes exist as you're working to get things done.
1. Remember the power of one. Although Three Dog Night claims "One is the loneliest number", I contend one is the most powerful number for productivity. As you implement resources, whether paper or electronic, utilize only one of each type: one calendar for personal and professional commitments, one running data dump of all tasks that funnels into one daily to-do list, one address book for all contacts' information, one set of naming conventions for all files (paper, electronic, email), one place for all which you must remember as well as reference and one strategy session to plan your week that is maintained with one daily wrap-up at the end of each day. Having one of each better ensures your content is kept up-to-date, you know what needs to be done when, nothing falls through the cracks and you don't double-book.
What are your top tactics for making the most of the limited time you have? Are there any on this list that you're planning to try moving forward? How do you deal with time?