We know that time ticks by and that we each have the same 24 hours in any given day.
For many of us, the challenge is not ‘time’ but how we decide to use and focus our attention.
What do we choose as our priority action from the many tasks screaming to be done? How do we stay focussed on that task? How do we get back on track once we are inevitably distracted? Would you like to know how to master that one?
Often learning to be more efficient is an important but secondary skill.
There are many strategies to help you to become a more effective master of your own time.
What works for me?
I like to set myself an important task as a focus for the day and to do that first. Yes, I do often download my emails and scan them but most days I don’t deal with them. Instead my first hour is spent doing something significant: reading, writing, updating a website, doing something to generate new business. What sort of tasks are important for you?
Mid-morning I’ll have a coffee and then move onto more mundane tasks, emails, reviewing or updating my workshop content, phone calls, travel arrangements, the sort of tasks that need to be done to make my business work. I might do something lighter before lunch and I do make a point of taking a short break away from my work every day. After lunch I normally come back to my important focus task for a couple of hours knowing that after 4pm my concentration will be more fragmented. How do you organise your day?
The books below are some that I’ve found useful along the way…
Stephen Covey’s classic “7 Habits” is more a book about life management. It’s not small so do have a browse of the contents page and, if you doubt you have the stamina maybe consider buying a kindle version or an audio version. It really is worth reading.
Much shorter and more accessible is “Eat That Frog” by Brian Tracy. Designed to be read in short “soundbites” it’s deceptively powerful with it’s simple messages.
Sometime apparent issues with time management hide something different. Procrastination. That is either procrastinating – putting it off – or avoiding a more fundamental issue. If this might be you, do have a look at “The Now Habit”, a more in depth exploration of why and how we procrastinate – and how to break that habit! Neil Fiore explores the issue at depth, uses some great case studies and examples to illustrate the situations and possible solutions.
If you’re looking for something a little lighter but a really good, evidence-based procrastination buster, this is the best I can recommend:
The Procrastinator’s Digest
Mind you, if your time management issues are a result of someone else’s worse organisational skills, try “Difficult Conversations” (a structure and inspiration to discuss difficult areas or difficult people with tact and confidence).
Online tools or resources?
If you use an electronic diary – Outlook or the equivalent – use the alarm function to set yourself reminders. You could use the task manager or set yourself an appointment with a particular task so the time is also blocked out in your diary.
You might be interested in using OneNote or EverNote.com to keep snippets of information together, notes, web pages, snippets of text, pdf files… all easy to locate and searchable too.
RescueTime.com will also record and analyse your online activities – are you ready to see where you really do spend your hours?