There are many “Time Management” systems out there but most are really list management and appointment management systems. While important, it must be understood that “Time Management” is something else entirely. True management of time is the management of hours. This can only be done with properly done Daily Planning..
Here are 7 tips to planning your day. These can help you organize your day, be it your workday or any type of day. Each day is a gift – like a bank account that starts full each day. Managing that gift of time is like managing money. We manage dollars. We manage hours. Time management templates can help. The tips:
1.Don’t mix planning and working. Planning is separate. We should plan and then do. It makes no difference if you plan the morning of, or the evening before, make sure you plan, as a separate action, before plunging into your day.
2.Define the starting and ending time of your day. This should be a period when you are “on duty”. It may extend beyond standard work hours.
3.Determine your overhead actions (we call them “Placeholders”). These are routine actions including meals that fall within duty hours, routine errands (like picking up the kids), exercise, etc. Overhead actions are part of life but do not move you towards your goals. Estimate the time to FINISH each action. Write each task and its duration on a Daily Planning Sheet. Overhead Tasks are placed separately from your Goal Oriented Tasks (see next tip).
4.Now decide which Goal-Oriented Tasks you intend to get done today and estimate the duration of each to FINISH. Write these down in their own area of your Daily Planning Sheet. Here you should keep track of the sum of their durations to make sure you are not over-filling your day. This is very important so you do not over spend the available hours.
5.Allow for the Unexpected. Set aside some flexible time for the unexpected events that ALWAYS show up. Set apart some amount of time (30, 60, perhaps 90 minutes) for these events and then control them to assure you stay within that allotment.
6.Sort the goal-oriented actions into the order you wish to do them. Set the most important, most remunerative and most difficult nearest the beginning.
7.Use a Countdown Timer to Focus on each item as you do it. This is very important. You set the timer and then do nothing else but the task at hand. You will be amazed how this will focus you and increase you effectiveness.
You can do all this with a Daily Planning Sheet (you may have to create one), a pen, a timer, a calculator and a decision. It is best to do this on a computer and there is no more ideal tool than a Spreadsheet like Excel. You can work up a template (simple or complicated) that will allow you to do all the above points in just a few minutes (literally less than 5). Ideally the template will keep track of where you are in the day, all incomplete tasks, and keep you posted, at a glance, on how you are doing. Regardless how you do this, with some cleverness you will find a way. The key point is to make sure the above 7 tips are implemented. You will be amazed how much you can get done and how much ease of mind you’ll have, as you work, knowing you are working with a plan.