As time goes by, we are getting busier and busier, and juggling priorities is becoming a constant battle. It’s like we never have enough time to get things done.
But is that really true? Time hasn’t changed, as far as we know.
The thing that is always changing is our relationship to time, in particular, the things we consider important in life, and how much time we allocate to it.
I don’t believe we can manage time but we can certainly manage our activities in relation to time. This idea of managing our priorities is important because the better we get at it, the more efficient and effective we will become, which means we get things done faster and also create more free time for ourselves.
While there are numerous ways we can manage our activities better, here are five ways I’ve found works well over the long run. If we can apply these ideas consistently, we will become much better at completing tasks that are important to us, which means we will achieve the outcomes we want a lot faster.
- Evaluate your calendar. Now, if you don’t use a calendar, then it could a reason why you may be short on time to complete tasks. I have found scheduling time blocks in my calendar to be effective.
For example, a simple schedule for a day could be:
- 6.00am—8.00am – Morning rituals, breakfast and get ready for the day
- 8.00am—11.00am – Project 1
- 11.00am—12.00pm – Emails and return or make phone calls
- 12.00pm—1.00pm – Lunch
- 1.00pm—3.00pm – Project 2
- 3.00pm—4.00pm – Emails and return phone calls
- 4.00pm—5.00pm – Plan the next day
- 5.00pm—6.00pm – Exercise
- 6.00pm—8.00pm – Dinner, Relax and Family Time
- 8.00pm—10.00pm – Personal Time
- 10.00pm—6.00am – Sleep
By having a clear schedule, it becomes so much easier to identify where we can schedule in our important tasks, plus it also makes us aware of where we are wasting time.
- Ask yourself what is most important right now?. Building on from the first point, for example, we may decide that Project 2 may not require as much time now until Project 1 is completed. A general rule in project planning is if we have an estimate of how long a project will take, it is better to double the time because things almost always take longer to complete than we expect.
- Identify what additional resources you can add. Sometimes it may be as simple as asking someone to give us a hand. Alternatively, we may be able to hire additional support for a short period of time or we could buy a tool or resource that can make it easier for us to get our tasks completed.
- Assess if anything can be delayed. Oftentimes, we get caught up in other people’s emergencies, which impacts what we are trying to get done. In such cases, we should ask:
- What can be pushed back?
- What is not urgent right now?
- What false emergencies have I been caught up in?
- What can eliminated or stopped all-together?
- What are the implications if a task is not done by its original deadline?
- Review your day. During Personal Time in our calendar, we can look back at our day and evaluate whether we were effective or not. Just by asking ourselves whether we got our most important tasks done that day is extremely powerful because it gives us the opportunity to do something different the next day. A habit highly effective people have is that they are always focused on continuous improvement and holding themselves to better standards.
Once we start taking control of our calendar, we will automatically improve our relationship with time, which will support us in getting our most important tasks completed faster. If we don’t do things differently, we will be constantly battling to manage our priorities, which can lead to more stress, frustration and disappointment.
Action Step: Start by evaluating your calendar. If you don’t use a calendar, a simple way to get started is to use Google Calendar, which is free to set up and easy to use.
Question: What is another simple strategy that can be applied to complete our most important tasks consistently?
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