You will accomplish much more when you plan than when you don’t. It’s best to plan long term, but, once that is in place, you need to plan your day in advance. Plan long term then break it down into smaller tasks.
Use one day a week to plan each day for the week ahead or alternatively, you can plan each day the evening before, although you should consider that this takes more discipline than planning the full week in advance.
Keep a to-do list
Keep a to do list, or instead of making a to-do list, try making a today list only. This helps you to focus on the top priorities.
Once you have the list, determine which are the important items. Mark these with a highlighter, a red pen, or in any other way that makes them stand out.
If you find your to-do list is too big, cover the list with a blank sheet of paper and then write down only the three or four most important items. Those are the ones to focus on.
Are you a multi-tasking aficionado? Try doing one thing at a time. It’s amazing how much you can accomplish when your attention isn’t divided. Staying focused on one thing until it’s complete is a very effective strategy.
If you don’t get everything on your to-do list finished, start a new list for the next day. Put the remaining items in order of importance on this new list. Watch how this one little shift will make a difference.
Create a schedule for your day, week, and month. When you have an extended plan, even if it’s tentative, it allows you to make the most of your available time and balance your responsibilities throughout the month.
If you procrastinate, ask yourself what you’re afraid of. You may be afraid of not being perfect. Once you deal with and fix an underlying issue, you’ll be less likely to put things off until later.
Organization and time management are linked. I find that I get important things done when I have all the tools I need to perform the job.
The opposite of organization — chaos, clutter, disorganization — generally leads to busy work. If your desk is piled high, every piece of paper says “look at me.” You can end up doing a lot of work without ever getting to the important stuff.
Master efficiency tricks
The best trick I have found is “The Power of While.” What can you do while you drive? While you walk? While you clean? While you watch TV? I am a huge audio tape advocate and frequently listen to tapes while I am doing something else.
Committing 100% focus and concentration on one task at a time can be very powerful. Eliminate distractions. Focus on the task. When you’re properly organized and prepared, when your energy and power are high, you can often complete a task in 20% of the time it would take when you’re distracted or open to interruption.
Put a timer on activities that tend to steal your time. It’s okay to take a break, but it’s not okay to get lost in time.
Take care of yourself
It isn’t possible to be “on” all the time. Take the time you need to look after yourself — body and soul — so that you can reach peak efficiency when you need to. Have a list of things you like to do. Find out what activities energize you, and spend more time doing them.
When you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed, add peace (contentment) to your list of goals. Time management is not about adding stress; it is about giving you the time to be the person you really want to be.