Jim Bird, founder and chief executive of time management organisation worklifebalance.com, outlines four ways to effectively organise your tasks to produce efficient and effective results including throwing away 'to do' lists.
In today's ‘choice challenged’ environment, the absence of time management skills can leave you feeling overwhelmed in your everyday life. Your most vital tasks – those that will create the most value and balance in your life – are often put off in a perpetual trap of saying you’ll do them “as soon as possible”.
Here are four easy to use time management techniques that will end procrastination, put you in control and make the most important things in your life happen now:
- 1. Use a planner of a size that you can keep with you at all times
If you regularly use a planner, you know how valuable this is for time management. Of all such techniques, this one alone will end procrastination, reduce stress and add value and balance to your life.
One of the best time management techniques is to buy either a paper planner/calendar with one to two pages for each day or an electronic planner. This gives you the room to write not only your scheduled items for the day but notes for each meeting, directions and other relevant comments.
Write everything in one place – your planner. Do not write an appointment in your calendar, the phone number on a napkin, and the directions on a notepad. That's Stress City. When you are rushing out to that appointment, you won't be able to put your hands on all those things. Have them all in one place.
- 2. Throw away your to do list
Delete it from your computer. To do lists are an out of date time management tool. They create inefficiencies and add to your frustration and stress in life. However, before you throw your to do list away, you need to do one very important thing:
Take a couple of seconds on each item and ask yourself the magic question that ends procrastination: "When am I going to do this?" For the best time management, transfer each item from your to do list to a day in your planner or calendar when you intend to do it or start it.
Don't transfer your entire task list until tomorrow, as this is a poor time management technique. Breaking it down into daily chunks takes what is often an overwhelming list and sorts it by time into manageable segments. When you get to the day for doing it, act on it – or again, at least start it. When new events of the day try and crowd out what you had planned to do, ask yourself, "Is this new item more important to do today than what I had planned?" If so, do it. If not, stick to what you had planned and write down the new item on a future day in your calendar.
Don't feel stressed by having to transfer planned items to another day because higher priorities come along. The act of transferring is motivational and serves a time management purpose. After you've transferred something three or four times, you will say to yourself, "Am I ever going to do this?" Sometimes you'll answer “no, this isn't very important”, and you'll delete it. More often you'll say “I'm tired of transferring this”, and you'll find the time to get it started that day. That motivation created by transferring becomes one of your valuable time management techniques.
- 3. Every time you decide to do something in the future, take three additional seconds and ask yourself "When am I going to do it?"
If you’re driving home from work and you think, "I really want to call my Mum,” or "I need to get that report to my boss soon”, don't write it on a to do list. Take a few more seconds and ask yourself, "When am I going to do that?" Then immediately write it down on the specific day in your planner that you intend to do it.
The best thinking and best intentions will not help with overall time management unless you make a commitment in time when you are going to do something about them.
- 4. Open up your planner every day
At least 80% of the value of any planner system for time management comes from only two things: immediately writing it down on the day you intend to do it, and opening up your planner every day.
Immediately writing down your activities on a daily page and opening your planner up every morning will greatly reduce procrastination and increase the achievement and enjoyment levels in your life.
These are simple time management techniques that produce powerful results. Why not try them out?
Do you have any comments? Please post them below.