If you're going to take control of YOUR life and make it great, you'll need to start by taking control of your time. Time management is foundational to succeeding in any area of life. In the words of "the father of management theory" Peter Drucker, "until we can manage TIME, we can manage nothing else."
An entire industry has been born out of the need to better manage our time. You can buy leather bound planners, fancy software packages, books, tapes and hand-held computers. You can even attend weeklong seminars that teach better time management skills.
I'm sure most of those resources are very good. I'd like to suggest however, before spending your hard earned money on any of them, you try these 10 simple tips for effective time management.
It's not time management. It's self-management. You can't control time and so, you certainly can't manage it. You get as much time as anyone else. You CAN control yourself - what you be and do in each moment of time. In the words of English poet, Austin Dobson, "Time goes, you say? Ah, no! Alas, time stays, we go."
Keep and USE a simple, "block" type, weekly calendar. I use a two page weekly calendar with one hour increments in each block. Page 1 covers Mon-Sun, 4 a.m.-12 noon. Page 2 covers Mon-Sun, 1 p.m.-9 p.m. Each one-hour block of time should be big enough to write in any appointments. You can use Microsoft Works to print a calendar such as this. Keep it with you at all times.
Keep a simple, "block" type, monthly calendar. Any appointments that don't fall in the current week can be written in one of the blocks on your monthly calendar. Again, Microsoft Works will produce a monthly calendar such as this. Keep this calendar with you all the time as well.
Plan your week in advance. Spend an hour Sunday evening planning the coming week. Transfer appointments from your monthly calendar to your weekly calendar. When you see how many open blocks of time you actually have, you'll feel a much greater sense of control and peace.
Invest each one-hour block of time. Each of your one-hour blocks represents an investment opportunity. How you invest your block will determine your future return. What you sow in each block, you will reap in future blocks. Consider cutting back on any activities that will not yield some benefit, such as excessive TV or web surfing.
Plan and schedule as much as you can. Don't just schedule work related appointments. Schedule as much as possible, such as time with your kids, family or significant other, sleep, eating, exercise, spiritual practice, reading, TV time, play time, laundry, shopping, writing, marketing your business, answering emails and phone calls.
As much as possible, stay in the current block mentally. If your block for 8:00 p.m., Monday says, "type newsletter," direct all your energies to typing your newsletter. Don't even think about what your block for 9:00 p.m., Tuesday evening says or what you didn't complete in your block for 6:00 p.m., Monday evening. Be and do 100 % in the current block.
Say "NO" to non-emergency, "out of the block" activities. Eliminate distractions as much as possible. Close your door, turn off the ringer on your phone or simply ask to not be disturbed. With the exception of emergencies, the only thing that matters is what you have to do in the current block.
Plan "untimed" or free time just for you. It's okay, and I'd suggest even healthy to plan time to just "goof-off" or play. If you set aside time for it in advance, it's less likely to come up spontaneously and distract you from other tasks.
Stick to your plan. Need I say more? Your schedule will work only as well as you commit to it. Keep it with you everywhere you go and refer to it often. Keep asking yourself "am being and doing what scheduled for the current block right now?"
By incorporating these 10 tips into your time/self management plan, you'll create more space to be, do and have more in you life. Further, you'll also approach your life in a more proactive and intentional manner.
If you have any questions about the "In the Block" time/self management plan, feel free to email me. I'd love to hear from you!
It's your life. Make it great!
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