Most of us get, each day, 1440 minutes to do with as we please. What we do with this time is up to us. Let’s consider two ideas and definitions. To drift – it’s a navigation term which indicates a movement due to the forces of winds and currents. It implies no control. The second definition is the word – Managing. This means to take charge of something. The honest truth, is that most folks drift through their days. Most flow through their days with vague ideas as to what to do. Many have very few goals. Of course, there are others who do manage their days. If you are choosing, who do you believe would be most successful?
I want to suggest four rules in good time management:
1. Use some sort of written list
2. List management and time management are different activities.
3. We should do our planning and do our doing as separate activities.
4. Some Flexibility is important
Let’s discuss each of these rules:
The Written List – Most of us have experienced waking up in the middle of night wondering whether or not we had forgotten something that needed to get done. This causes, at the least, nervousness and high blood pressure. This is caused by keeping too many items in our heads rather than getting them written into a reliable list system. It is important to manage the big picture. Knowing that the “big picture” is handled allows us to focus on the “now” of life. Actions, goals, and our intention are best managed when written down on a piece of paper or in a computer program. We used paper systems in the past and it was quite workable. Today computer programs do the brunt of the work. There are many management tools available which help us work out and coordinate our goals, plans, programs and tasks. Managing such items is beyond the scope of this article. However a key point is that lists need to be written down in some manner.
Second, the managing of lists and daily planning are different types of actions. Both are important, but daily planning is the tool used to actually make sure the tasks get done effectively. Daily planning is the means by which we work out how to use the minutes and the hours of the day.
We should treat the planning what to do and the actual doing of the tasks as separate actions. Some people plan as they do and this does not work well. It is best to do the planning and then get on with getting the tasks done. Plan first-then do.
Flexibility is another important factor. Plan our days too tightly, and we will undoubtedly become frustrated. Our days tend to be divided between predicted and unpredicted activities. One could say that there is a ratio between predicted in unpredicted activities. Everyone has a different tolerance for this ratio. Also certain jobs and lifestyles bring on different levels of predicted and unpredicted activities. Think of the difference between a mother raising four children and, perhaps, an accountant. Regardless of your job and your tolerance level it is best to remember that there will be things that happen during the day that you do not predict. Flexibility should be built into any plan.
Most would probably agree that our happiness is at least affected by our ability to get things done and to achieve our goals. Getting things done, effectively, is a key to happiness. If we keep in mind the four rules noted above, keep good lists, and do effective daily planning we will get as much done as we possibly can.