Do you ever feel like your life is moving too fast without you being in control of your time? Often, I find that instead of me telling myself what I want to do, my calendar tells me what to do. If you are sick of being run by your calendar, here are ten tips to get back in control of your time:
- Plan ahead. Eisenhower once said, “Plans are nothing. Planning is everything.” Take a few minutes every day to plan out what you are going to do and set goals. Try to focus on three really important things that you want to get done each day and then do them! Focus on the 20% of the things that will account for 80% of your results. At the end of each workday, I create my to do list for the next day. That way I can focus on the important items I need to get done right away in the morning when I am the most productive.
- Don’t procrastinate. Most people look at their to-do list and complete the thing that is easiest first. Don’t do this! Instead, tackle the item that you fear the most.
- Know when you are at your best. If you are more productive in the morning, make sure you are focusing on the critical 20% of things you need to get done. Don’t do the easy tasks during that time that don’t require you to be at your best. I schedule my important tasks at the very beginning of the day because that is when I am at my best.
- Focus. Set a timer for 50 minutes, turn off all your distractions (email, phone, Facebook) and focus intensely on doing as much real work as you can. Then take a break.
- Learn to say no! If you learn to be more efficient than the rest of your coworkers, others will ask you to take on their work. Be aware and be ready to say no!
- Set and respect deadlines. Have you ever noticed how fast you can get things done the day before you leave for vacation? That’s because you made a deadline that you had to meet. Make little deadlines for yourself like and feel so great when you accomplish them.
- Review where you are spending your time. Do a four-quadrant test (recommended by Steven Covey, Author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People). Take a piece of paper and dissect it into 4 quadrants. Write down everything you did the entire day and put it into one of the four quadrants. Quadrant 1 is for routine things. Quadrants 2 is for things that happen unexpectedly. Quadrant 3 is for things that other people delegate to you. The fourth quadrant is for your dreams and goals. If you aren’t careful, Quadrant 1-3 will take up most of your time, leaving little time for your dreams and goals. This will also help you see where you are wasting time.
- Email management. Email alerts are a great way to get distracted and focus on unimportant things. Have a certain schedule to check your email everyday instead. Many times it is important to reflect on emails before responding. I often leave emails in my inbox to respond to the next day. When I do this, I always think of a completely different response that is much better while driving home. Don’t be afraid to wait to respond!
- Reward yourself. If you reward yourself for something, it will most likely get done. Only reward yourself for completing the critical 20% of activities. Don’t reward yourself for crossing the easy, 1 minute tasks off your to do list.
- The world needs you to do what you love. Make sure you plan out ahead of time when you will make time for yourself each day to exercise or spend time doing what you are passionate about. By maintaining a healthy lifestyle, you can actually improve your focus and concentration, which will help improve your efficiency.
How do you manage your time?
Classy Career Girl, a blog written by Anna Runyan, provides advice to young professionals on how to be classy as they climb the corporate ladder. Her blog covers topics such as business chic fashion, career motivation, personal development, networking, and office etiquette. Connect with her at http://www.classycareergirl.com.