Who hasn’t been to a time management course or attempted to manage their time with a state of the art planner or calendar? Certainly we’ve all been … well, guilty… of trying to manage time. However, the truth is we can’t manage time. There are 24 hours, period, in each of our days, and believe me I and many others smarter than I, have tried to expand that number. The only thing you CAN effectively manage are your tasks and here are some powerful ways to do so:
Prioritize Those Tasks You Put on Your List
There’s no rocket science to an A,B, C or 1,2, 3 method. The secret is in the application, discipline and implementation of such a method. Is everything on your list really an A or a top priority? Must they all get done right now and be the very things you would have to get done if the world were to stop spinning today? Likely not. Take a close look and reevaluate. Maybe even separate those items into “Must haves”, “Nice to Haves”, and “Would be a bonus”.
Reduce the Squirrel Moments
We’ve all been distracted by something on fire or claiming to be on fire and the truth is it takes an average of 7 minutes PER INTERRUPTION to get back on track when you’ve been distracted. It’s up to you to eliminate the number of times you respond to a distraction and say “Squirrel!” Use your discipline to remind yourself that most “squirrel” moments will lead you down a rabbit trail and away from the top priorities.
Give Yourself Permission to Leave Some Things Undone
There is little more motivating than a hard deadline: a flight to catch, a vacation that starts, an event that takes place. Yet, even in the face of knowing you’ll be gone for a week from the office, isn’t there a point at which you decide “this can wait until I get back”? Use this line regularly and give yourself permission to be okay with something being a B or C priority – meaning it can get done tomorrow and no one will suffer grave consequences, even you.
Time management, much like “perfect balance”, is a misnomer. Managing this well as a leader of your own life is a skill worth developing. If you don’t manage the tasks and items that go on your list in a way that works for you, then the clock begins to manage you and that is not what time management, nor task management, is all about. You can do this and the effect of successively managing your tasks will be… and is… contagious!
Monica Wofford, MBA, CSP, is an international speaker, trainer, and author who helps managers who were promoted, actually become prepared to lead.