One of the biggest mistakes I see people make when it comes to managing their time is not having a system in place to support their productivity. Effective time management incorporates a set of tools, and habits that when utilized properly allow you to get optimal value out of your time. The initial tool is the paper or digital tool that fits your personality. The additional elements include:
- A master task list that includes everything you have to do and a daily to-do list
- Supportive habits because your habits will make or break you
- Knowing what your priorities are
- Scheduling and planning your week and being realistic about it! Your calendar or daily agenda should look like a well organized closet. A well organized closet has spaces for shoes, hats, scarves, sweaters and the like, so that things are orderly. You want to maintain that same order with your calendar so before you add something look to see if you have room for it and exactly where it can go.
- Delegating. We all have things that we can pass along to someone else to do and it helps tremendously when we take advantage of that opportunity. It not only leaves time for you to work on something else, but increases your productivity.
- Saying “no.” Take time to think about things before making a decision. Do you actually have the time? Does it align with your goals and values? Think about that well organized closet as a reminder and keep in mind that just because something needs to be done, doesn’t mean that you have to do it.
- An organized workspace. A person who works with a cluttered desk spends about 1½-2 hours each day looking for things. That’s 7½-10 hours of your time spent each week that could be dedicated to something productive. Do the math and not only does the time start to add up quickly, but the monetary costs do too.
You might not think of some of these as part of a system, but they truly are. Without all the pieces in place, you have gaps and your productivity suffers becasue you have nothing to support you. Get each of these pieces in place, and incorporate them along with the use of a tool that’s the perfect fit for your time management personality.