There are so many ideas and thoughts about time management. I would say the number one question I get from my clients is “how can I manage my time better?” Because in the end whether you are trying to get and stay organized, build a successful business, or help your kids learn to manage their time, we all need to be better managers of time.
When I consider helping folks better manage their time there are a few fundamental strategies that we can employ to improve time management immediately.
1. Are you realistic about what you can get done? Being realistic about exactly what is possible to get done in a given time period is basic to know exactly what will get done. Many people underestimate the amount of uninterrupted time they have available to them each day. Because this is true they often put more on their “to do” list than is completely ‘doable’. The result of this misconception, many people are frustrated with their time management and therefore frustrated with themselves.
2. Make a list of what you need to get done daily and write down the estimated the amount of time you think each item will need. Making a list of tasks is not enough to help you get more done. In fact, if you are slightly unrealistic about what you can do, putting a time allotment on each task will reveal help you understand what is realistic in the future. It will also help you to become more mindful of how far time can be stretched.
3. Create your task list every evening. After you have had a few hours to unwind from the day’s activities, jot down your 5 top “to do” items for the next day. Make sure you include the amount of time each will take. Creating the list the night before not only gives you a head start in the morning, it will help you more effectively process what needs to be done.
4. Don’t do all the heavy lifting. Just because an item is your list does not mean you need to do it. Years ago I utilized the benefits of the Franklin Planner system for time management. One of the cool things about that system is that it encouraged you to manage the tasks you have over many days. You would plan your week and create the tasks for each day and then give you a way to manage each task. You could do it yourself, move an unfinished task to another time, or delegate it to someone else. The delegate feature is something many people are reluctant to do, but if delegating becomes part of the task process, you will get more done.
5. Become an early riser. I am always astounded at how much new stuff I can get done each day if I rise just a little earlier in the day. It is because there are some items on my list that I try to do daily, like exercise and meditative reading. If I want to get more done, I get up and do those routine things early in the day and then I can start my task list earlier as well. So even if you don’t rise extra early each day, try it a couple times a week and you will be astounded at what you achieve on that day.