Time management is a term so overly used that it has come to mean almost nothing. In our supremely fast-paced society, we dedicate our days to grand projects and pressing deadlines. We set goals and push through daily pressures, resistance and obstacles to achieve them. Sometimes it is easy to become so focussed on the elusive rewards of the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow that we become disconnected from the here and now.
If your aim is to become the master of time management, it’s time to grab hold of one simple truth:
It’s the little things that make big things happen.
On their own, most of the little jobs and activities you do each day don’t amount to much. Even if you had constantly clean workplaces, crystal clear filing and record-breaking levels of output, they wouldn’t make that much of a difference in themselves.
Lasting impact is made when each small part of your business system flows freely. This is the only way any organisation can consistently generate positive change. Effective time management comes down to these five simple principles:
Leaders Maximise Their Time
“The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.” Michael Altshuler
When it comes to making the most of your time, it’s all too easy to fall into the victim trap without even realising it. With your overfull schedule this week you might wonder how you will get anything done. The phone rings and you need to attend to someone else’s urgent priority. Then there are your family, friends and team members who seem to need you constantly.
If your schedule is too busy you are the only one who can change that. Regardless of the demands on your time or the pressures around you, you do have the capability to carve out the time you need. Block out No Go Zones that are reserved for the achievement of your aims without negotiation.
Effective Planning Is Foundational To Time Management
“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” Abraham Lincoln
Jumping headlong into the first task that pops into your mind without mapping out a plan is a recipe for time-wasting. Develop a system which reminds you of the routine tasks you need to complete regularly, and schedule time for these. Then set up a notes system to get all those work thoughts out of your head and recorded somewhere for reference. I love my Rocketbook for this (and so does the environment 😉 ).
Once you have all those tasks and projects out of your head and in front of you, it’s time to map out a plan. Larger projects are best managed with software such as Trello, Asana or Monday.com. Work that can be completed in one sitting should be set as daily goals. The message here is to plan your work then work your plan.
Managing Time Means Forget About Multi-Tasking
“The shorter way to do many things is to only do one thing at a time.” Mozart
Slipping into old habits of distraction is a perfectly normal challenge to overcome when mastering the use of your time. You might find your self with 20 browser tabs open at any given time. Perhaps you have three emails drafts that can’t be sent until you complete them. Maybe you have shiny new tech tools that you bought but never got around to installing or implementing. You might even tell yourself your brain works best with multiple pots on the boil.
If increasing your output whilst reducing stress is your aim, this has to stop. You can’t argue with science. Your brain is not capable of giving high-level attention and focus to more than one task at one time. Set up one task, work on it until it is done, then focus on switching quickly between tasks. If you need to capture those runaway thoughts that spring up while you’re working, make a habit of working with a notebook beside you.
Prioritise Your Efforts To Make The Most Of Your Time
“Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent, and not enough time on what is important.” Steven Covey
Setting boundaries around your life’s most vital priorities, then maintaining these boundaries ruthlessly is key. This is the only way to succeed in making the most of your time. Not everything you are tasked with is urgent. Indeed not everything you have on your plate right now is important. Some of the things on your to-do list are probably not even relevant to where you’re headed. If you’re struggling with knowing what to invest your time and effort into, your first step to managing your time well is to sort that out.
I realised long ago that true success is about choosing what you want, then choosing what you are willing to give up to get it. Dedicate yourself to clarifying exactly what you want out of your life. Commit to finding what you want to give back. Purchase some personal development books to focus your vision. You might even reach out to a coach or mentor to help you find your purpose.
What Does Your Time Really Mean?
At the end of the day, the big things in your life rely on the little things to work. Mastering each moment is the only way to truly create the impact you’re looking for. Functioning smoothly in wide open workspaces elevates your performance. Quickly accessing quality resources fuels transformational outcomes. Producing exemplary results every time turns your workers into leaders. All of this comes back to their ability to make the most of their time.
Becoming empowered with skills and strategies to master your time, means the energy you spend on the little things feeds the achievement of the big thing. When companies function this way, every effort contributes to the delivery of solutions which change your clients’ world.
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