Many people mistakenly believe that time management is about squeezing more tasks and activities into a day. Time management is actually about getting the important things done. It’s also about learning to do things efficiently so you can ultimately accomplish more. Here’s how:
1. Focus. On a sticky note, write the important things in your life you need to focus on today. At home, attach it to your refrigerator. At work, stick it on your computer monitor. As projects come and go, you’ll need to modify the list.
2. Write it down. If your head is full of clutter, you won’t get as much done. “Scatterbrain Syndrome” is caused by too much data floating around in your head. Cure it by writing in a spiral notebook everything you need to do. If you’re working on a task and something else pops into your head, write it down in the notebook.
3. Keep a daily to-do list. Write down the 12 most important things you need to accomplish tomorrow.
4. Make a daily schedule. You’ll be more efficient. Look at tomorrow’s appointments and meetings. Mark those beginning to end times in your calendar. Then review your to-do list and schedule time for your to-do’s. Remember, only schedule 70% of your day. The other 30% will be filled with interruptions and emergencies.
5. Delegate. This is the most underused time management tool today. Look at your to-do list after you write it and ask yourself what you can delegate. Consider hiring college students for small tasks. Barter activities with neighbors and co-workers. Teach your kids life skills and enlist their help on a daily basis.
6. Multi-task the details. While it’s important to focus on projects, it’s also efficient to take care of simple tasks simultaneously. Cook dinner while returning phone calls. File while watching TV. Check your e-mail while listening to voice mail messages.
7. Group like activities. Keep a running list of errands and take care of all of them once a week. Return phone calls during a certain time period. Do all your computer work within a certain time period. It takes time to switch tasks so you’ll save time by doing like activities together.
8. Organize your surroundings. The Wall Street Journal once reported that the average executive loses up to an hour per day looking for misplaced papers. You’ll save time if you don’t have to step over and look through clutter.
9. Analyze everything you do for the next week. Try to find a quicker, more efficient way to do things. Briefly work with a friend or co-worker to come up with ideas.
10. Read it better. Learn to skim information. Highlight important text for easier retrieval. Carry reading material with you wherever you go. Consider taking a speed reading course.
Barbara Myers is a speaker, writer and organizing consultant. Enjoy a FREE time management tips booklet at [http://www.ineedmoretime.com]