Time management starts with being focused on what you are doing in the moment. There are even some people who will argue that technically there is no possible way to multi-task because you can literally only perform one task at a time. Either way you’d like to look at it, time management is a skill that you must master no matter what your profession or age.
Some people will tell you that time management is all about creating a list of things that must be done, scheduling every moment of your day, setting goals, and prioritizing your tasks. Although these concepts are at the core of time management, there are many other factors that come into play as well such as decision making and critical thinking.
The Pareto principle, also known as the 80-20 rule, states that for many events, approximately 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. The concept was developed by Joseph Juran who named it after an Italian economist Vitfredo Pareto who observed that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population. There’s nothing really special about the number 80. In fact, in most business principles you’ll see that ratio. It’s mainly used to emphasize just how much is lost, or gained with time management.
Whether you are looking at time management from a personal level, a business level, or as a general way of life, there is one constant: time management is about getting results and not necessarily being busy. There is a huge difference between those two ideas. Have you ever seen someone in your office (or perhaps a friend or spouse) who seems to constantly be running around fretting about “all the work” they have to complete? They look really busy – and in fact they are. But their time management skills could be lacking. At the end of the day, I can almost guarantee that person has not accomplished as much as they should have or could have had they implemented a time management program.
One way to start to manage your day is to understand that every person has a natural cycle. Are you a morning person, or a night person? Are you ready for a nap by 3:00 PM? That is your natural cycle. If you’re a night person, you shouldn’t be trying to handle your most important or your hardest tasks during the morning when you are least likely to be able to think clearly or act decisively.
In order to start prioritizing your day, you also have to stop thinking of NO as a dirty word. If you take on a project that you can’t do, or one in which you don’t have the time to do then you are not helping that person out. You are going to produce less than stellar results!
Put the “Getting Things Done” mentality into motion. If it takes less than 2 minutes to do – then do it! Remember, 2 minutes is just an arbitrary number. It could have 5 minutes, 7 minutes, etc. If it’ll take longer than 2 minutes to accomplish, then you need to decide if it’s something you should do, or if it can be done by someone else. If it must be done by you place it into one of three piles. The first pile contains tasks that will only take one step to complete. The second pile contains things that will take two or more steps to do. And the third pile contains things that are for reference. Everything else should be tossed out to the trash!
There’s a great quote whose Author is unknown: Today, be aware of how you are spending your 1,440 beautiful moments, and spend them wisely.