I originally wrote this article back in 2003 or 2004 — before Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the like. People praised me for my ability to effectively manage my time and organize events while juggling so many other things. Today, some might laugh at the fact that this self-identified procrastinator was once great at time management. Here’s the article:
Time management is subjective. What looks like “chaos” to one person, is another person’s time management strategy. So, here is the million-dollar question: Do you manage your time or does your time manage you? Poor time management can cost you more than just time . . . it can cost you money, credibility, promotions, respect, and even business! Here are a few tips that helped me to organize and manage my time.
DO IT DIFFERENTLY. This is a wonderful exercise. Look at anything you do and ask, “Is there another way I can do this?” “Why am I doing this job this way?” “Why am I going in this direction?” “Why is my space arranged this way?” “Is there a place where I seem to work more effectively?” Or, you may wish to subdivide tasks differently. Leave a certain task out. Spread the task out over different lengths of time. Cut back on certain sub-tasks and concentrate on others. Whatever you may choose, doing it differently may help to do a task more effectively.
DO NOT TRUST YOUR MEMORY – WRITE IT DOWN. I like Post-It notes and steno pads. Steno pads allow me to keep all of my notes and ideas bound together in one place. Post-It notes allow me to stick messages to just about anything as a reminder. No matter what you choose, be sure you can easily retrieve it for later use.
KNOW WHEN TO SAY NO. It affects all you do both professionally and personally. Eliminate taking on tasks that aren’t related to your goals and that interfere with balance. Stay on task — remember, “your” time, “your” money.
DELEGATE. Identify and eliminate tasks that do not need to be done by you. Get someone else to do it. For example, if you’re a good writer but a poor typist, hire a typist!
SET LIMITATIONS. Return calls and reply to emails at a fixed time. For example, pick one or two times a day that you set aside to return calls and reply to emails.
BE FLEXIBLE. Do not over schedule. Allow enough time for each task. Regularly plan time to relax and rejuvenate. You’ve earned this time off. Allow extra time for the unexpected. Something almost always comes up to derail your efforts. Allow for it.
KNOW HIGH AND LOW ENERGY TIMES. Some of us are night owls. We do our best thinking, working, planning and executing later in the day, while others are morning people who are energized and ready for action before dawn. Choose your most productive time to take on those complicated, detail-oriented projects/tasks and save the filing, journal reading, etc., for your less productive times of day.
- Throw out what you will not read
- Use a tickler system to remind you of due dates
- Break down big tasks into short well-defined projects
- Have little tasks at hand for when you are forced to wait
Managing time is not always easy. It’s about balance and setting priorities. It’s about knowing when to say “no” and when to delegate. It’s about accomplishing what you set out to achieve. And, when you manage to meet your goals with time to spare, why not use that spare time to reward yourself? Go to a movie; catch up with friends; go on a date; take a nap — whatever tickles your fancy. It’s your time. You managed it. You earned it!