Poor time managers usually disorganized, lack clear-cut goals in writing, rarely plan or schedule adequately, have misplaced priorities and generally manage themselves poorly with respect to time. The procrastination parasite thrives on these individuals. They are so busy hopping from one job to another and dealing with constant interruptions and rush jobs that they postpone everything that isn’t yet a crisis.
If you are a victim of time rather than a manager of time, act now. Have written goals. Plan your months, days and hours. Give priority to those tasks that will lead you closer to your goals. Make appointments with yourself to start each important project at a particular time. And keep those appointments. Schedule those important but distasteful tasks early in the day. Then get a head start by starting early. A fast and productive start sets the stage for a productive day. Practice self-discipline. Make up your mind that you are going to adopt a do it now attitude. For help in getting organized, refer to my book, How to organize your work, home & life, published by Bookboon.com. Meanwhile, here are ten suggestions for getting organized and gaining control of your time.
Put your goals in writing. Time is life. Don’t leave it to chance. Determine where you would like to be in ten years, five years and one year, and put those goals in writing. Then schedule time for yourself to work in that direction. Where you will be in ten years or five years is determined by what you are doing today, tomorrow and next week. If you don’t have goals, you may soon reap the negative impact of procrastination.
Organize your work area. An organized desk is not the sign of a sick mind, it is the sign of an organized mind. People do better on exams when neatly dressed, excel in sales when well-prepared, and are more productive at work when their materials are arranged in an orderly way. Keep your in-basket off your desk to minimize interruptions and distractions. If possible, have your desk face the wall.
Plan your day. If you have no objectives for the day you will likely have a matching set of results. Plans are the handrails that guide you through the day’s distractions and keep you on course. Plan what you will do at the start, evaluate progress during the day, and measure results at the finish.
Schedule your tasks. Listing jobs on a “to do” list shows your intention to work on them; but scheduling important tasks in your planner reveals a commitment to get them done. Make appointments with yourself at specific times to work on your priority tasks. And try to keep those appointments. If you can continually commit yourself to work on planned tasks at predetermined times, you will defeat the tendency to procrastinate. Be sure to allow more time than you think the tasks will take.
Handle things only once. When possible, that is. Don’t even look at your email, for example, until you have at least 30 minutes available to review and take action on it. As you open each email, either delete it, answer it, forward it, file it, or schedule a time to handle its contents later.
Write it down. Writing things down does not mean you are circumventing your memory – you are simply helping it to do its job. We all need reminders to prevent a myriad of essential tasks from being delayed simply because they conveniently keep slipping our mind. The pen is mightier than the sword – and it writes better.
Say no more often. Some people say, yes to others simply because they’re available or don’t want to offend. Make sure the request is compatible with your goals before you agree. Have as much respect for your own time as you have for other peoples’ time. Remember, every time you say yes to something, you are saying no to something else that could be more important.
Delegate more. This is the greatest time-saver of all; because it frees up time for more important tasks. If you have no one to delegate to, ask your suppliers to help. Or use volunteers. Or outsource tasks that you don’t do well. Don’t delegate anything that can be eliminated.
Practice Pareto’s Principle. This 80-20 rule suggests that 80% of your results are achieved by 20% of the things you do. Focus on those key priorities, and if nothing else get done, at least it will be the less important tasks.
Don’t procrastinate. Procrastination is the nemesis of time management. Delaying important, goal-oriented activities wastes time, causes stress and helps make life unpleasant for yourself and others.
If you have trouble putting any of the above suggestions into practice, I have written over a dozen time management e-books that address everything from general time management and organization to goal-setting and procrastination. You can read descriptions of them all at my website by clicking here.