We can do nothing to increase time and we must always remember that time is one of the few things in modern life that is not recyclable. However time management training and getting good at time management skills can provide you with the feeling of achieving a certain amount of work at the end of each day, as opposed to going home from work and feeling although you have worked long hours you have achieved nothing during the day.
Good time management skills is about many things, prioritising, managing interruptions, avoiding procrastination etc. But time management really starts with having a plan of action which clearly states the tasks you are hoping to complete on any given day—other wise known as a to do list.
I am not a fan per se of to do lists however I do believe you need an action list outlining the actions you are going to take to achieve your tasks on a daily basis. Time management training will always speak of the importance of planning your work and working your plan.
I have set out below some key points for getting into the habit of writing a list and managing the list.
Before writing a list as part of your time management skills, you should always check your diary for that day, as if you use effective diary control to make appointments with yourself for the tasks you need to carry out, there will always be daily entries in the diary.
Remember the 80/20 principle 80% of things on your time management list will produce 20% of the results and 20% of the list will produce 80% of the results. A key element of time management training is to always remember this rule and work on the key areas that produce the important results.
Get yourself in to the habit of writing a time management list every day, try to write the list at the same time daily so as it forms a habit. Some will do the time management list first thing in the morning whilst others will use time management skills to prepare the list the night before, just before you leave work—leaving it on your desk for as soon as you arrive the following morning.
Time management training courses will tell you that the important thing is to get into the habit of writing a list each day on one piece of paper (not a thousand yellow stickies all over your pc) The list should take no more than 10 minutes maximum to compile. Time management is not about having loads of things on your list, it is about having the most important things on your list. Time management training will teach you it is not the amount of items on the list but the importance of the items.
You must allow time for emergency changes in your daily schedule. No matter how effective you are at training yourself in the skills of time management, there will always be the possibility of unscheduled important tasks popping up or interruptions etc.
Be realistic with your time management lists and try your best to allocate each task a start time and finish time. Group similar tasks together for momentum and remember to carry forward items from one day to the other (only if they are important and must be actioned.)
Is what I am doing now helping me to achieve my objective?