The Top Five Keys to Mastering Time Management
We are constantly inundated with new information, to-dos and ideas. At any point in time, we have hundreds of options for how we choose to spend that moment. While it may feel good to check things off a to-do list, if you aren’t intentional about what is on your list or in your schedule, as well as the choices you make throughout the day, you are not productively working towards goals but instead just “being active.” So, what are the keys to mastering your time throughout your days and weeks?
1. Understand That We Are All Unique
Are you more productive in a noisy, active environment or do you need complete quiet to focus on your work? Are you a natural planner with the skill and desire to look into the future, or do you often “live in the moment” and struggle to envision even the next day? Each person has their own unique perception of time and relationship to it. In addition, we all have different strengths and struggles when managing our time. A tool or trick that works for your colleague may not work for you. To implement the systems and habits that work best for you, it’s important to understand your unique relationship to the various aspects of time management. This leads us to the next key in mastering your time.
2. Learn, Prioritize the 12 Critical Areas of Time Management
Time management is a multi-faceted process that deals with the analysis and improvement of 12 critical areas. These 12 areas can be categorized into:
(1) top-level thinking: attitudes, priorities, goalsetting and analyzing;
(2) mid-level strategizing: planning, scheduling, team support and meeting management; and
(3) daily choices and actions: delegation, information and communications management, procrastination and interruptions.
To master your time on a day-to-day or even minute-by-minute basis, each of these areas needs to be considered. Let’s dive a little deeper into each category.
3. Know What is Important
Oxford Dictionaries defines time management as “the ability to use one's time effectively or productively, especially at work.” But, if you aren’t clear about what is important in your life and work, you will likely be overwhelmed and unsure if you’re using your time in the most optimal way. All the planners, apps and products in the world can’t help if you aren’t clear on your priorities.
For any individual, this starts with an understanding of what is important, where you want to go, and who you want to be. Then, you can better define your long- and short-term goals and ensure your actions support those goals.
4. Plan, Strategize to Gain Control + Perspective
Once you are clear on your bigger goals and priorities, you can build them into a plan and strategy for the upcoming year. From this annual plan, you then develop monthly goals and a weekly and daily plan. The exercise of working from long-term goals to short-term strategies and plans will give you greater clarity and focus. Reviewing your goals and plans regularly is important to ensure you are on track and continue to focus on what is important.
5. Be Intentional
If you have spent the time to prioritize and plan as described in the keys above, then you can be much more intentional about your choices throughout the day. But you also need to develop good daily time management habits. This starts with understanding your obstacles and putting processes and systems in place to improve each day.
Change takes time and practice. The good news is when mastering your time, even small changes can yield big results. By working through the keys above, you will gain a sense of control and perspective you may not have felt before. The level of peace, joy and success you achieve can be truly lifechanging.
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Find these tips useful? Learn more tricks on how to maximize the potential of your business through The Partnership’s Top Five series or through the Small Business Resources Hub.