Time is something that none of us ever seem to have enough of. Yet, with the help of some simple time management techniques, it is possible to get a lot more done in less time, and thereby enhance the quality of your life. As Tony Robbins puts it, time management is really life management.
One excellent way to get more out of the time you have is to actually do some time planning. For instance, you can spend 15-30 minutes every evening planning the next day. Doing so will enable you to get far more done than you ever have before. You can do the same thing every weekend to plan out the next week, and determine all that you want to achieve within that time frame. At the start of one month, or the end of another, you can sketch out the coming month in similar fashion.
If you put all of these timescales into active practice, you will truly propel yourself into the fast lane of achievers. Planning is the key to getting to where you wish to go. How do you actually use this time? Simply listing the things you want to get done is a good start. If you do this, and then cross off items as they are done, you will probably have doubled your productivity.
An even better way is to grade the activities in order of importance. You can give a grade A to items that are both urgent and important: they absolutely must get done. Grade B items are those that are important but not urgent. Grade C items are things that do need to be done, but are neither urgent not important. Grade D activities are those that would be nice to do, but are neither urgent, important, and do not even need to be done. Grade E are all others that do not fit into the above.
An example of a grade A item is making sure your tax forms are submitted when today is the deadline date! It is both important and urgent, and the consequences are severe if you do not do it.
Another grade A item might be fleeing to the hills in the face of an imminent and massive tornado. Examples of grade B activities – important but not urgent – might be pruning the fruit tree so
that it produces good fruit this season, or listening to a motivational tape seminar. Grade C items – neither important nor urgent – might be things like buying a new dishwasher, or fixing a loose shelf. Grade D items – nice to do, but not necessary – are things like going to a movie, chatting to work colleagues, or watching the World Series on TV.
Here is what you do with this system. Create your list, and then make sure you get all grade A items done first. Do them ALL before you move onto grade B. Do all of these before moving onto grade C. Indeed, grade C items are the sort of thing you should be looking to delegate to someone else, especially if you are in business. Your time should be focused on high priority matters; not things that really do not matter at all.
Grade D items get done once you have freed up the time and cleared your list of all grade A, B, and C items. Yet, here is the interesting and important point. What grade activity do you think most people spend the majority of their free time on? Actually, it’s grade D! If you think how much time people spend watching TV, going to movies, playing computer games or whatever, you will realize how true this is. In comparison, how many people really focus on high priority activities, even at work? Isn’t it so much more interesting to chat to work colleagues than to actually get the job at hand done? Don’t we prefer to watch TV rather than plan our goals and entire life direction? What grade activity do YOU spend much of your time on? If the answer is grade D, might there just be a correlation with the life results you are getting?
Another way to manage time better is to do two things at once wherever possible! For example, you could exercise AND listen to instructional tapes at the same time. In this way, you improve both body and mind and use the time twice over. Some people like to subscribe to tape digests of top books, and thus get a lot of their essential reading done in this way. If you do not feel like listening whilst exercising, how about doing it in the car while you are on the way to work? Another example might be traveling in a coach or train, and doing work on your computer, or holding an important conversation with someone on your mobile phone.
Yes, it is important to simply sit and watch the world go by at times, and you should make for time for that too. However, if you actually used some of these spare minutes and hours every so often, think how much it adds up to in a year. I used to read books on my train journey to and from work every day; a total time of about an hour and twenty minutes or so. Whilst I would get through a book or two in a week, it amazed me how many people just sat there and stared blankly ahead of them.
All this said, there is a big downside to multi-tasking too, because if done wrongly (which it all too often is), it can lead to poor concentration, performance and the degradation of your brain over time! When you multi-task, make sure that these are not two competing activities for the same area of mental attention. Hence, the example of traveling in a train or car while listening to an audio would be a good example of multi-tasking. However, trying to watch a video online whilst also skimming through an article, or trying to talk to someone in the room whilst speaking to someone else on the phone i.e. dividing time between two conversations, would not be good examples of multi-tasking. Such activities would deplete your energy, degrade the efficiency of your brain, and make you a stupider person over time! Of course, texting while driving will get you killed – NOT a recommended approach to multi-tasking!
Another way to create more time for yourself is to get up earlier in the morning! If you get up just half an hour earlier each day, you create for yourself and extra 3.5 hours per week, 14 hours per month, and 182 hours per year! It may be hard to do at first, but it is definitely worth it. Also, it is said that morning is some of the best and most productive time you will ever get in the day. Your mind is fresh and clear, totally uncluttered. Esoteric spiritual traditions also agree that the morning is one of the the best times of the day.
In summary, there are many ways to revolutionize your use of every hour of your day. What is needed now is the will to do it. You can create a positive spiral for yourself by taking even one of these ideas and working with it for a while. Imagine what could happen if you used them all. You might just become unstoppable!