Do you ever wonder how some people manage to accomplish such a huge amount in seemingly so little time? The secret is that unfortunately there is no secret. These people have mastered the skills of organization and time management. So, while everyone else is running around wondering where all their time went, they’re busy achieving their goals, smashing their targets and impressing the boss. When it comes to the skills that will make you more successful in any career, organization and time management are way up there! But what is the secret to how the most successful people manage their time?
Your ability to organize yourself and manage your time is one of the biggest contributing factors to success. When you manage your time effectively, you’ll be less stressed, you’ll be more productive and ultimately you’ll achieve more of the things you want in life, and who knows you might even have time to spare!
So what can you do to manage your time more effectively, so you can finally stop running late to every meeting?
Here are the 3 biggest lessons on how the most successful people manage their time.
1.Track and log
It’s too easy to let time just slip away. We’ve all had those weekends spent on the couch. The weekends when you didn’t do anything, you had no plans, but somehow, the time just flew by and you only noticed late Sunday night.
If you want to take control of how you’re spending your time, then you need to know where you’re spending it in the first place.
So, if you really want to know how effective you are at time management and if you want to manage your time how the most successful people manage their time, track everything.
Tracking how much time you spend on each thing for a whole week ( at least) will give you an honest and true picture of where all your time is going. While it might be tempting to estimate, it’s too easy to underestimate how long you really spend on things.
2. Set priorities
You can do anything, but you can’t do everything, at least not all at the same time. So many of us take on too much and all this ends up doing is burning us out or making us feel overwhelmed.
To really be effective, you need to recognize what your most important priorities are based on your goals.
Being clear on your priorities means that you can focus more on doing the things that will bring you results.
How do you prioritize?
Deciding what’s a priority and what’s not when you have so much on your plate can be part of the challenge.
For this, use Eisenhower’s Matrix which breaks tasks/activities down into 4 categories.
Important and Urgent:
These types of tasks include pressing deadlines, unforeseen issues/ crisis or even work you may have left to the last minute, whatever the reason, these are things which have to be completed as quickly as possible and therefore take first priority.
Important but NOT urgent:
These types of tasks are the things which move you closer to achieving your goals and succeeding in your work and in your life. Examples include planning, relationship building, and anything pro-active that leads to you accomplishing real results or developing in some way.
Avoid procrastinating when you do have time on your hands so that you can complete tasks while they fall under this category rather than waiting until they become urgent. In an ideal world, you would be focused on working within this quadrant.
Not important BUT urgent:
Things which fall under this category are often tasks or interruptions from other people. These activities will not move you closer towards your goals and they usually center around someone else’s goals and priorities, and not your own.
Although it’s tempting to react, as with all things that are urgent, ask yourself if there is someone else who can do the task or if you can reschedule it for a later date/time.
The types of things which fall under this category tend to be any kind of interruption or unexpected, last minute deliverable that you have to get involved in.
Not important and not urgent:
Finally, you might have tasks on your to-do list that have been on there for some time and simply keep moving from one list to another. If this is the case, then your procrastination might have something to do with the fact that these items are not important and not urgent and it’s probably time you removed them from your to-do list altogether.
If you struggle to say no, then you’re likely to have lots of items on this list. Saying no might be hard, but the ability to say no is one of the key ways that you can reclaim your time so you can focus on doing things that are a priority to you.
3. Plan your weeks
Once you’re clear on what your priorities are the next step is to plan, plan and plan, and of course, execute against that plan.
Taking time to plan out your weeks in advance will mean you’re able to focus on taking action and doing what you need to do once the week gets started.
Be sure to leave buffers for those unexpected things that come up so that you’re able to stay on track no matter what life throws your way. What’s more, try to be realistic and don’t underestimate how long tasks will take.
Planning your weeks ahead has lots of advantages. It helps you to keep your daily activities aligned to your long term goals, it gives you mental clarity and space to really focus on the doing, and it also helps you to quickly identify when things are going off course so you can make adjustments.
In short, plan, plan, plan oh, and plan!
If taking the time to plan and schedule and making changes to your way of working seems like just another item for your to-do list, remember…
Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four hour days. – Zig Ziglar
Either you run the day, or the day runs you – Jim Rohn
How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing… -Annie Dillard
The more organized you are about how you spend your time, the more likely you are to spend it doing things that will lead you to success and to where you want to go. Whatever your destination, the last thing you want is to get there late, hot and bothered, because who knows what opportunities you might miss out on if you do.