Have you ever felt really excited and organised in January, armed with your year’s goals and a great plan to achieve them? And then wondered in December, with all the preparation, why you still didn’t achieve your goals? The answer is simple. The time was just not set aside to carry out the actions required to achieve the goals. 

We can’t manage time but we can manage ourselves. Discipline is essential to getting tasks completed and contrary to most peoples’ beliefs, gives flexibility and freedom.

Follow these simple tips to get the greatest return on investment of your time and stop being busy with stuff that just doesn’t get you to where you want to be!

7.5 essential time tips:

  1. Organise your work workspace – Don’t work in a mess. It clutters the mind and makes it difficult to focus. Make sure you have everything you need and put away everything you don’t need.  
  1. Prioritise tasks   Firstly, do a brain dump of all your to do’s. Use the4 D’s to categorises the list – Do, Dump, Defer or Delegate. Then take the Dos and prioritse using A,B,C,D,E (consider the consequences in setting priorities). If you have more than 5 As then prioritise A tasks using A1, A2, A3 to identify the most important A tasks and so on. Identify what tasks to defer, i.e. the lower priorities that can wait. 
  1. Be decisive– Set clear motivating goals and objectives using SMART. Set a daily work plan the day before/ Default Diary – plan every 15/30 min of your working day a day/week in advance – Start with a couple of hours a day and build it up to about 80% of you working day. The other 20% is to deal with the unexpected. Learn to make decisions quickly; don’t carry ifs, buts, and maybes around. It will weigh you down.
  1. Separate the urgent from the important (what are the long-term potential consequences of doing not doing tasks?) Use the law of forced efficiency (what is the highest value use of your time, right now?) Use the 80/20 rule to identify the 20% of tasks that will have the greatest benefit and just do those.
  1. Develop stamina and high energy through proper exercise, diet and rest.  Work in ‘real’ time (pick up the tempo, develop a sense of urgency, do it NOW!) Decide to work to live, not live to work.  This means working towards a balanced life.  Aim for quantity of time for downtime and the quality of time at work.
  1. Develop single-handling skills to concentrate on one task at a time. “Do not disturb” time. It can take 21 min to get back to where you were when interrupted or when you distract yourself! Focus to crucial to productivity. 
  1. Reinvent yourself at least once a year:  identify what you need to do to become more productive, because everything changes. Your top priorities last year may not be same as this year. 
    1. Eat that Frog – Do the hardest task of the day first. It’s not going to go away so just DO IT! You will get a great sense of achievement early in the day. You will walk lighter and be more productive with every other task and person you engage with for the day. 

Recommended reading:

  • Eat that Frog, by Brian Tracy
  • No B.S. Time Management for Entrepreneurs, by Dan S. Kennedy