Managing Your Time

Organization is a systematic application of common sense strategies, yet most people need practice to perfect the required discipline.

Managing Your TimeTime management is the foundation of organization and planning is your best organizational tool. Many people spend their days in a frenzy of activity, but achieve very little because they are not concentrating on the right things. Stuff bounces around in our heads causing stress and anxiety. We’re too neurotic to stop thinking about it and we certainly don’t have time to actually do everything in one day. This results in running from one “fire” to another hoping that we haven’t forgotten anything.

Our primary resource is time. In fact, time is all that anyone has that is of intrinsic value. Even something as valuable as good health is of no use without time.

At the beginning of the week, making a “to do” list gives you direction, and at the beginning of each day, it gives you a plan. Your weekly planning session should begin with gathering papers, going through your in-box, and checking the calendar. Using a planner that includes a daily “to do” or task list is an excellent tool. There are even free online applications such as the one at www.toodledo.com.

It is important to be flexible with your plan, as even the best laid plans can get waylaid. Missions and goals give long-term perspective and short-term motivation. Setting goals also builds self-confidence. By setting sharp, clearly defined goals, you have a measure and can take pride in achieving those goals.

The first steps to organizing your time might be emptying your planner of clutter and junk, and combining your personal and business calendars to make a master list of all the things you need to do.

The “to do” lists should be prioritized and should include al the tasks that you need to carry out. The most important tasks go at the top of the list, and the least important at the bottom. This is often the beginning of being truly organized. If all the tasks you need to complete are in one place, you are less likely to miss anything.

The “to do” list process allows you to look at the time you have available and plan how you will use it to achieve the goals you have identified. Review each task and decide up front how long it should take and work to that deadline. Leave enough time for things you absolutely must do and preserve some contingency time to handle the unexpected. When you are confronted with occasions when your plans for the day are suddenly interrupted, don’t hit the panic button. Check your list, re-evaluate, and adjust your strategy.

Begin with the worst item on your list. Wasting time stems from delaying work that is unpleasant by finding distractions that are less important or unproductive. Procrastinators work as many hours as everyone else, they just tend to work on the wrong tasks. Schedule your most challenging tasks for the times of day when your energy is highest.

Organization is a systematic application of common sense strategies, yet most people need practice to perfect the required discipline. It requires little effort and it promotes time management by identifying wasted time and focusing on your prioritized activities. Organization gives people direction and enables them to take control of their time.

Time is all you really have, so managing that time is the most important decision you can make.

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