Prioritize in advance and you can save a lot of time and grief in the future. And there’s little excuse for not anticipating many of the events that will occur. For instance, you know that the car will eventually run out gas. Similarly, you can bet your bank account will run dry, the copier will run out of paper and the printer will stop working. Planning simply involves recognizing that these events will occur and taking action before they do.
Yet people continue to search for a service station while the gauge is pointing at empty, make a special trip to office supply store when the paper supply runs out, and call a repair person when the equipment breaks down. It’s as though they had never heard of topping up the gas tank at their convenience before it is empty, keeping a minimum quantity of supplies on hand, and having their machines serviced on a regular basis.
Planning is not so much a time management strategy as it is common sense. And most of us have our fair share of common sense. Why is it then that we don’t take the few minutes necessary to plan?
The answer lies somewhere between busyness and procrastination. Most of us are so busy racing from job to job or place to place that we don’t have time to think. When we do think of something that should be done soon, we delay it because we’re too busy at the moment to do anything about it. Unfortunately, when the gas gauge is on empty we’re just as busy as we were when we thought of it earlier – except that now we have the added stress of urgency.
What can we do about it? Well first we have to mentally assign labels of important or unimportant to all the repetitive tasks. Important tasks should never be allowed to become urgent.
If you run out of bread or milk, is it important? No, you can survive for a day or two on crackers and water. If you run out of gas, is that important? You bet it is. Can you imagine the lost time, the cost, the frustration and the inconvenience of being immobilized on a highway, perhaps on the way to an appointment?
Planning includes prioritizing the various tasks, including the repetitive ones. If it`s important do it as quickly as possible. If it`s not important, delay it until you have time to do it. If you never have time to do it, which is likely, that`s fine.
After all, you are getting the important things done. And that`s what time management is all about; getting the important things done.