The subject of time management can seem overwhelming. If you were to conduct a “Google” search, you would find enough articles that you would not have time to read through them all in the next 25 years. In just a few moments, the amount of available material would cause you to give up on putting time management principles to work in your life.
If you are just getting started in trying to figure out how to implement this in your life, let me give you ten principles or building blocks for becoming more organized. Start with these ten, ponder, focus, and put them into practice.
1 Goals are the bookends. In football, there are goalposts located at each end of the field. If there were no goals, the game would make little sense. Before the team takes the field, it has been determined that the offense must score and push across the goal line, and the defense must stop the other side from getting across the goal line. Get clarity regarding your goals. Knowing and understanding what your goals are is the first step to manage your time successfully. If you have no goals, then everyone else will enlist you to assist them in reaching their goals. Sure, there are certain things we must do to live and work, yet we must understand that I am here for a reason, and I will accomplish some goals that I have determined. Spend some time in quiet thought and reflection and find out what you believe in and what you would like to achieve. You are a unique individual, and you are not a copy. Discover what you want to do and go after your dream. Set some goals. Your goals will become the bookend or the goal lines to your life.
2 Focus. If you are going to manage time and get things done, you will need to block out distractions and focus on the goals, activities, and priorities you have determined ahead of time. Distractions are everywhere, be prepared to push through them to work on the critical tasks that will move you closer to your objectives.
3 List. Write a list. Some call it a to-do-list, or an action list, or a priority list, it makes no difference what you call it, never start the day without a plan/list.
4 Three to five essential tasks. There is a temptation to put too many items on the list. An overload of tasks causes one to become paralyzed, and very little gets done. Many give up when they are unable to get everything on their list accomplished. That is why I have at the beginning of my list three to five items/tasks/activities that I am committed to achieving on a given day. I do more than three or five things every day, but by doing three that are very important regardless of how many other things get done, I feel a sense of accomplishment, and this keeps me focused as well as keeps me from getting discouraged.
5 Morning ritual. You will need to get up an hour earlier than usual. I have a few items I commit to in the morning. For me, it is Bible reading and prayer, journaling, reading, to name a few. I then begin working on the first “most important task” on my list. It is a boost when I have item one completed before I reach the office. Incorporating this one thing into my schedule was a game-changer.
6 Evening ritual. I have an evening routine as well. I review the day, look at my calendar, and get prepared for any meetings and appointments that will happen the next day. I look over my list of things I need to do. I prioritize the list and identify the top three and list them one to three. I then commit that I will not go to bed tomorrow evening until all three are completed.
7 Single task. Multi-tasking is a myth. You will get more done and done well if you focus on one task and activity at a time. This activity will help you to learn to focus.
8 Time yourself. Get an egg timer or an electronic timer on your computer or phone. I use Be-Focused. I set it for 25 minutes and then take a five-minute break. Often I will reset it for 25 and work on the same project another 25 minutes. There are times when I will work on two to four small items and seek to get them done in the 25-minute slot.
9 Put your tasks on your calendar. One reason that I struggled with just a to-do list was that I just kept adding to it, and it remained nothing more than a list. When I put the task on my calendar and dedicated time to the item, it got done! Positive things began to happen when my list and calendar got together. You might say it was a marriage made in heaven. Bringing your task list, calendar, and timer together, allowing dedicated time to get things done is a wise use of time.
10 Learn to distinguish between a project and a task. I have one caution. It is easy to put a plan on a list. I have folders for my projects. A task is a next step needed to accomplish the project. I schedule a time to take my project and break it down into many actions and activities that must be performed. If you list a project on your task list, it will take you quite a bit of time to figure out what the next step is that you need to take. Therefore figure it out ahead of time. If you miscalculated, it is okay, life is about making adjustments
Here are a few items, baby steps to help you get your day organized as well as assisting you to get essential things done every day.