Discover How 5 Simple Strategies Can Help You Manage Time More Intelligently
Time management tools are versatile, diverse and powerful – but only if you know how to leverage their power. No tool or device can give you back control over your life and inner peace. That’s up to you. And by following the Time Management Tao principles, you are moving in the right direction.
Let’s look at 5 simple strategies that will help you clearly define and refine your approach towards managing your time better.
1. Do Your Self Audit
Too often, your problem of overwhelm comes because of too much clutter in your life. You don’t know what is truly important, in the context of your bigger, lifetime goals. So auditing your own life and dreams begins by assessing the relative importance of things you are engaged upon.
Once you know what really matters, you can prioritize the tasks related to it so that they get done early in your day, or at the time when your energy levels are highest. It is also easier then to ignore less important things. For instance, if the phone rings when you’re engaged upon critical tasks, you can ignore it without guilt or anxiety because you know it is just a distraction.
There will always be events and people in your environment who interfere with your focus. Partly the problem lies with you, if you draw up unrealistic to-do lists, or over-commit on promises to do things for other people. Coupled with the tendency to procrastinate and other psychological blocks that all of us face, this can become a serious drain on productivity. Time management tools can help overcome these hindrances.
2. Estimate and Evaluate Tasks
It pays off richly to analyze how long it takes to finish your important tasks. Often you’ll discover that when you know how quickly something can be done, your inclination to put it off for ‘later’ is replaced by a desire to just get it done right away.
Also, when you draw up to-do lists of your important tasks and prioritize them correctly, add a column mentioning your time estimate to get it done. That helps you stay on track to finish your task list, and can be a significantly powerful time management tool.
3. Prioritize and Delegate Work
Of the items that make it on to your to-do list, there will be some that do not belong there. Find them out and eliminate them right now. Then look at the tasks which are of very low priority, and either schedule them for later, or place them at the bottom of your list. If they don’t get done, you won’t lose much.
What’s left is work that matters. The next question to ask yourself is whether you need to handle it yourself, or can it be delegated to others on your team. If it can, delegate. This frees you to focus only on work that is both important, and needs your personal involvement.
Finally, guard your to-do list fiercely by keeping trivia and non-essential tasks off it. Learn to say “No” to others. Avoid unnecessary meetings. Keep conversations brief and to the point. All of this saves precious time.
4. Look At The Big Picture
Time management tools can’t do this for you, because everyone has a different and unique ‘big picture’. What matters most in your life? Try and fit the biggest goals into a few broad categories. Try and limit this to six heads.
Then, for each category, list out your big picture goal. For the financial category, this goal may be a number – e.g. $2 million before retirement. For health and fitness, it may be “I want to lose 20 pounds and walk 3 miles daily”.
Knowing your big picture goals, the next step is to decide upon the 3 most important actions that will take you closer to them, and start working on them right away.
5. Mapping and Planning
Using time maps and planners as time management tools is a visual and effective way to keep yourself on track. They can help you group related activities together and schedule them for better efficiency. When something on your to-do list doesn’t match the map, eliminate it.
Mapping and planning your time helps assign a place and schedule for each item. As you progress towards your goals, review your performance and modify the approach suitably. These simple time management tools can help you milk higher efficiency out of your busy and overcrowded day in a surprisingly short time.
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