Time management is really a prioritization exercise. There is only so much time, and there are always more things to do than there is time. As a result, people tend to focus on the activities that are most urgent at the moment or that are time-bound. This causes many daily tasks to get lost, and it prevents us from achieving our long-term goals.
Focus on the Future
It is essential to imagine what your future self looks like and then determine what steps need to be taken to achieve your goals. To be successful in achieving those goals, schedule time on your calendar for those things; otherwise, you will never get to be where you want to be. It is necessary always to prioritize what is most aligned with what you want to do, what you want to be in the future or what is most important to you.
Schedule Time for Activities
For the activities that must get completed but are mundane or hard to get motivated to do – especially recurring tasks – it is also helpful to put placeholders on your calendar. Respect your own time and honor the commitment you made to yourself when you scheduled these activities. Also, schedule time for things that are time-bound and do not procrastinate to prevent tasks from becoming fire drills. Give yourself a buffer to ensure these tasks will get done on time, even if something else comes up or things go as planned.
Learn to Delegate
To use your time most efficiently and effectively, learn to delegate. If someone else can do a task better than you or if it’s something that anyone can do, delegate it. Save the activities for you that only you can do, that you do best or that you really care about the outcome of.
A saying attributed to Dwight Eisenhower is that “plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” Always having a plan ensures that you make the most of your time. But always be flexible and be ready to adjust because life never goes as planned. To help me prioritize and sort through all the projects that I have going at any time, I subscribe to the Getting Things Done (GTD) method, a time management system developed by David Allen described in his book, “Getting Things Done.”
The core of GTD is to write down everything that is on your mind and then arrange it to ensure that you are executing the highest-priority and most important items at any time. Each item is designated a context so that you can affect the items in the most efficient way. For example, if you have a free 15 minutes to spare and are in a space where you can make a few calls, you can look at your items that have “phone call” as a context and quickly check those items off. One of the things that has most helped me about using GTD is for every project that I am working on, I only need to define the next thing that needs to get done. Sometimes, what prevents you from doing something is just not knowing where to begin.
It is important that you do not let others waste your time and that you let go of things that are not important. Know which balls bounce and which balls break when they fall so you can let go of things that don’t need to be prioritized.
Be the Best You Can Be
To make the most of your time, always get enough rest, exercise, eat right and avoid alcohol as much as possible to ensure that you always feel your best. Stress management will help you stay motivated and perform at your best.
Be Mindful and Present
When I was in college, one of my professors taught us that we had to use every waking minute of every day – to be busy every minute. Even if we were waiting in the hall for the next class to start, we should take that opportunity to review notes or study. I have learned now that using every moment does not necessarily mean being busy. It is about being mindful and present and focusing on whatever activity you are engaged with at that time. Sometimes the best use of a free moment is to simply stop and slow down and notice what is around you.