Everybody is busy. Those who take to heart time management advice and master the time management tips on this page are effective people, the highest of achievers in all walks of life.
Furthermore, those who master time management skills are able to take control of their lives and function well even under intense pressure and stress.
The central tenet of our time management advice is this: concentrate on results, not on being busy.
The Pareto Principle
The Pareto principle (also known as the 80-20 rule) states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. In time management that means that 20% of the time spent will cause 80% of the results. By using the tips on time management and mastering time management skills, you can optimize the amount of time you spend on effective action.
If you have problems managing your time, chances are that you may be a procrastinator. You procrastinate when you don’t do the most important things. The key to beating procrastination problems is to understand why you procrastinate. There are various reasons for procrastinating. It’s important to determine which fits you. Here are some most frequent reasons why procrastinators procrastinate:
- You are doing the more pleasurable or comfortable tasks rather than the more important ones
- You are doing the tasks that present themselves as emergencies but aren’t really as important as others
- You may feel overwhelmed by the more important tasks so you don’t start them
- You may be a perfectionist who feels you are not going to be able to do the task “perfectly” so you don’t do it at all
- Fear of failure or even fear of success may be freezing you
- You love the rush you get by doing things in the last minute
Here’s how you can beat procrastination:
Step 1: Figure out exactly when and how you procrastinate. Recognize self-defeating behaviors such as fear and anxiety, difficulty concentrating, poor time management, indecisiveness, and perfectionism. Work on yourself. You may need help in the form of a coach or a therapist.
Step 2: Discipline yourself to use time wisely—set priorities. Develop good time management skills, as described below.
- Write an activity log to help you analyze how you are actually spending your time. Write the start time, the end time, the activity description and the value you place on the activity (high, medium or low). After a week, take a look at your log and identify how much time you are spending on low value activities. Identify also when during the day you are spending your time less wisely so you can improve your performance during that time of day. Finally, identify the time of day you have the greatest energy and get the most done. These are the times you will want to do your most critical and most complex tasks.
- Start a “To-Do-List”. Every evening prioritize the tasks that need to be carried out the next day. Put the most important tasks at the top of the list and the least important at the bottom. If something doesn’t get done one day, it gets pushed to the next day. These “to-do” items should be your priority each day. Do them first or do them during the most productive time of your day. In either case, do the highest priority tasks first. Each item on your to-do list should be relatively short. If you’ve got a large task break it down into its component parts.
- For large projects set up the following Goal Fulfillment Program. Set goals—a goal is the decision to get something, to do something, to be something. Your goals should be quantified so they can be measured. Make plans—plans, if completed, should cause you to get your goal. Decide on projects that must be completed to accomplish the plan—each plan should have several projects, the sum of which is the entire plan. Tasks are things you do to complete each project. The sum total of the tasks should complete the project. Put the tasks on your to-do list when the time is appropriate.
Step 3: Scheduling is the process by which you plan your use of time. Use effective scheduling techniques, as follows:
- Get a Day Planner and use it. Identify the time you want to be working and the time you want to dedicate to your personal life.
- Block off the time it takes for you to do what you need to do on a daily basis.
- Schedule your to-do list and the tasks you need to do each day to move you towards your goals, as established in your “Goal Fulfillment Program”.
- Block in Contingency Time. Very few things appear to get done in the time you think you will need. If you block off some extra time, you will get them done.
As you master the skill of time management, you will find yourself to be more effective. You will also find that your stress level goes down as you take control of your time.
Now you Know…
- People who make good use of time management advice are among the most effective people, the highest of achievers.
- Use the Pareto Principle to your advantage.
- The key to beating procrastination is to figure out the source of your procrastination and then use the tips on time management given to beat procrastination.