Master the Art of Time Management
There are countless ways you could work to improve your personal and professional life.
However, I’m a firm believer in the importance of learning time management first.
Until you’re able to do this effectively, no amount of personal-improvement work is going to stick. Eventually, your inability to control your schedule will force you back into your default mode.
If you’ve previously tried to make lasting changes in your life but can’t quite get them to stick, I’d be willing to bet the major problem is that you haven’t yet learned to manage your time.
5 Ways to Improve at Time Management
The good news is that learning the art of time management doesn’t require years of hard work or strict discipline.
In fact, I’ve found that many people are able to make huge strides by simply implementing the following five changes.
1. Identify Your Priorities and Then Treat Them That Way
At the moment, you may actually be managing your time just fine.
The reason you’re unhappy with the results you’re getting is because you haven’t identified your true priorities in both your personal and professional life.
This is a common problem.
People have all the time in the world to sit on the couch and watch television or go to happy hour after work or do any number of different things that won’t actually improve their well-being.
So, right now, sit down and identify three goals you have in both your personal and professional life.
For example, in your personal life, you may want to lose some weight, spend more time with your significant other, and do a better job of taking care of tasks around the home.
In your professional life, you could shoot for beating last quarter’s numbers, scheduling one extra business lunch a month, and reading a book in your free time that will make you better at your job.
Write these goals down but also take some time to come up with concrete reasons why these are so important to you. This will help solidify your motivation for achieving them. Understanding what your goals are is great, but until you treat them as true priorities in your life, other activities will always get in the way.
At the end of this post, I’m going to introduce you to a free tool that will help you give these priorities the attention they deserve without completely ignoring the other tasks you need to accomplish in your life.
2. Quit “Multitasking”
I put multitasking in quotes because the entire concept is a complete myth.
According to Early Miller, a professor of neuroscience at MIT, you can’t focus on more than one task at a time.
Instead, what really happens when people “multitask” is that they “task switch,” meaning they go back-and-forth between two or more of them.
This isn’t just an inefficient use of time, though. It’s downright counterproductive.
Research has shown that some people may lose up to 40% of their productivity in a day because of their commitment to the myth of multitasking.
So quit telling yourself you’re multitasking when you’re actually getting less done.
Instead, allot time for a single activity and stick to it until it’s finished.
3. Stop Trying to Do Everything
Again, I have a fantastic time-management tool to help with this that I’ll link to at the end of this piece, but another illusion you need to avoid is the belief that you can do everything.
This goes back to the importance of setting priorities and either accepting that other things won’t get done or delegating them.
“That’s fine for most people, Jeff, but I’m different. I can get everything done, I just need to…”
So just consider this a short-term, personal challenge, then.
For the next week or two, commit to focusing on your priorities first and only move on to tasks of lower-importance when those have received the attention they need.
And no “multitasking.”
I’m confident that after a week or two of adopting this new mindset, you’ll notice you’re getting a lot more done. In fact, you may even find that not every task requires your attention to get done.
4. Try Saying “No” and See What Happens
If you’re constantly pushing yourself to do everything, you probably have a tough time telling people “no,” too.
Can you attend another meeting today?
Can you stay late?
Are you able to come in early tomorrow?
Yes, Yes, and Yes!
This can only last for so long though. Eventually, something has to give. Unfortunately, that something could actually be something very important in your professional or personal life.
Learn how to say “no” and watch your schedule open up.
If you worry that this would take an absolutely herculean effort to pull off, just start small. Politely say “no” to something of little consequence, and you may be surprised to find that the world doesn’t actually end.
5. Leave Room in the Day for the Unexpected
You’re probably familiar with Murphy’s Law.
Although I’m all for maintaining a positive outlook, that doesn’t mean expecting everything to go your way. Things will go awry from time-to-time. The unexpected will occur. These surprises don’t have to turn into tragedies though.
Just don’t fill your schedule to the brim. Leave some room in your days. If nothing unexpected happens, you can use this free time to get started on the next day’s work.
Use the Time Battle Card to Quickly Get More from Each Day
While I firmly believe that it’s important to master the art of time management, it’s just as vital that you know how to leverage this invaluable asset to get the most from it.
Fortunately, I have the perfect tool to help with this.
Please download your free Leveraging Time Battle Card. It makes it extremely easy to identify your priorities, create the tasks that support your goals, and decide which ones you should spend your time doing and which you can delegate to others.
You can put this very simple, user-friendly tool to work in your life today and begin benefiting from it right away.
Then, consider putting that newfound freedom to good use by registering for Systematic Foundation™ and Take the Lead!™ three month training programs. This training is designed for salespeople who are committed to improving the results they’re able to achieve.
Founder of RedRock Leadership