“Time management is a mark of self-discipline. It can be learned. You can control the calendar or the calendar can control you.” – Jeremy Kingsley
There are dozens of time management courses and books out there, many of which repeat the same lessons over and over – write down appointments and reminders, schedule in time for interruptions, and so on. But, it’s too easy to ignore those tips and let your calendar take control of your life. Your life needs to be about more than your appointment book, iCalendar, and daily reminders. You need to be disciplined enough to have power over your schedule. This isn’t an impossible task, and it can be accomplished with these five tips:
1. Scheduling Your Priorities:
Everyone has priorities. That’s simply how life is. There are a certain number of things that need to be done, and they should be placed prominently on your schedule. Once you have them written down, everything else can be scheduled around them. Picture these things as giant unmovable boulders, and the rest of your to do list as smaller rocks and pebbles.
2. Planning Your Work:
Once your priorities are scheduled, the next step is to come up with a plan. Which tasks are next in line? How can you get them done quickly and more efficiently? For example, if you need to make a series of phone calls or respond to emails, set aside a chunk of time each day to do so. This will prevent you from jumping from one different task to another, when it’s easier to do similar things back to back.
3. Taming Your Tools:
Distractions make it hard to get things done. This is particularly true in this day and age, when work is done on a computer with a smart phone in one hand and a tablet in the other. It’s hard to focus when you’re answering phone calls, responding to text messages, and checking your emails constantly. The solution to this problem is easy – focus on the task and ignore the rest, even if you have to put your phone and tablet in a drawer for the duration.
4. Sharpening Your Saw:
Have you ever heard the phrase, “work smarter, not harder?” Most people have, but aren’t able to implement the idea behind it. If there’s anything that you can do –from small shortcuts to taking care of multiple minor tasks at once – do it, and use the rest of your time for more important activities.
5. Protecting Your Downtime: daily, weekly and monthly time for rest, hobbies and exercise
This is the one things that people fail at the most. It’s very easy to book something for every minute of your work day, and then spend your evenings checking work emails from your smart phone. You need to unplug at least once a day, whether it is for family time, things you enjoy, or time on the (literal) treadmill. Set aside time in your schedule on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis for relaxation.
Taking control over your calendar is the first step to leading a more productive and happier lifestyle. The five tips that I’ve provided you with here will get you back on track to meet your goals in a healthier fashion.