I’ve learned some time management lessons after years of struggling to manage time better. And because these lessons have the potential to completely revolutionize the way you think about managing your time, this article will be one of the most important you’ll read. Without any further ado, let’s talk about these 5 hard earned time management lessons.
1. Make Lists
Drawing up lists for everything is a very effective time management method. You can have a list on which only major projects are added, and then work your way through it. A sub-list of things to do today helps you stay focused on the most important projects.
While having too many lists, or too many items on each list, can be a problem, it is easily solved by setting priorities and deciding what goes on your list. Unimportant tasks that have no bearing on your long term goals should be ruthlessly eliminated. Writing down your list is helpful because you can cross off items as they get done. This gives you a sense of completion that reinforces your behavior of sticking to the list.
2. Clear Away Clutter
Organizing your files and workspace can be a precious time management lesson. Look at the items that clutter up your home or office. Do you really need to keep those papers, documents, sales brochures and other material? If not, get rid of them. Or keep digital copies and eliminate the physical clutter.
While this may be hard work, it is very rewarding when you get done. You’ll often be able to destroy 75% of papers, bills, receipts and other things without significantly impacting your work or efficiency.
3. Take Control Over Your Schedule
To organize your time, you must first realize what is holding you back. One of the powerful time management lessons the years will teach you is that nothing is wrong with you, or out of control – it’s just the way things work, at their own speed and in their own nature. Getting frustrated about it is wasteful. Instead, take control of as much as you can.
Manage your email, voice mail, phone calls and in person meetings. Avoid interruptions, and factor in time wasted on unexpected delays into your work schedule. Pick specific times of the day to tackle particular tasks. Unless you schedule work, it never gets done.
If your project seems too big to complete, break it down into smaller chunks and then begin working on the first chunk. Sooner than you realize it, you’ll get everything done.
4. You Can’t Do Everything Yourself
You may like to think of yourself as being capable of handling everything on your own. You might even think others cannot do as good a job as you will. And you may be right, too. Except that, by going it alone, you will significantly limit the nature and amount of work that you can get done.
If you get others to help you out, you’ll achieve more. You may have employees, volunteers or friends who can tackle specific elements of your work. By making a list, and then delegating chores to your team members, you free yourself up to concentrate on other important things.
5. Don’t Be Too Hard On Yourself
One of the time management lessons that’s hard to learn is that it isn’t always your fault. Even if you spend a lot of time training yourself in more efficient time management, there will be times when you slip up. Piles of paper will accumulate on your desk. Your email inbox will get cluttered. You’ll fall behind on your deadlines. Others will dump their work on you, forcing you to shelve your important projects until later.
Don’t beat yourself up. Things will change and improve, as long as you stick to the time management lessons you’ve learned and keep on implementing. If you don’t give up, you’ll get better at managing your time. Just remember the 3 important Time Management Tao principles:
- Find your center – know WHAT to do
- Understand your order – know HOW to do it
- Pick your timing – know WHO to use & WHEN