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 give a few laws (rules, suggestions) that are important to effectively manage our time:
1. Use some sort of written list
2. Managing lists and managing time are two different actions that should be treated differently.
3. We should plan and do our tasks as two separate and distinct 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.
List management and daily planning are different activities. List management is very important but it is less effective if one does not have a daily plan to get those actions done. Daily planning is the key to effectiveness. It is the key to maximizing the use of our minutes and hours. We start with a list -but lists only tell us what to do not how to get them accomplished. Effectiveness is best achieved when we use daily planning.
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.
It is important to maintain flexibility. Let’s face it -things happen. There is a concept of the ratio of predicted to unpredicted activities. Some jobs and lifestyles tend to create more unpredicted activities than predicted activities. Also certain people have different tolerance levels of how much unpredicted action they can tolerate. Regardless of your tolerance level, it is important to realize that you will have some unexpected items occurring during the day. Allowances should be made for that.
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.