Goals: Manage Your Time Well

02/03/2023by dang tin0

Manage Your Time Well

“Time slips through our hands like grains of sand, never to return again. Those who use time wisely are rewarded with rich, productive and satisfying lives.” Robin Sharma

To achieve all your goals, and become everything you are capable of becoming, you must get your time under control. Psychologists generally agree that a “sense of control” is the key to feelings of happiness, confidence, power and personal well-being. And a sense of control is only possible when you practice excellent time management skills.

The good news is that time management is a skill, and like any other skill, it is learnable. No matter how disorganized you have been in the past, or how much you have tended to procrastinate or to get caught up in low-value activities, you can change. You can become one of the most efficient, effective and productive people in your field by learning how others have gone from confusion to clarity and from frustration to focus. Through repetition and practice, you can become one of the most result-oriented people in your field.

Choices and Decisions

If the front side of the coin of success is the ability to set clear goals for yourself, then the flip side of the same coin is the ability to get yourself organized and working on your most valuable tasks, every minute of every day. Your choices and decisions have combined to create your entire life, to this moment. To change or improve your life in any way, you have to make new choices and new decisions that are more in alignment with who you really are, and what you really want.

The starting point of time management is for you to determine your goals, and then to organize your goals by priority and value. You need to be absolutely clear, at any given moment, exactly what is most important to you at that time.

At one moment, your goal could be a business, financial or career goal. Later it could be a family or relationship goal. On still another occasion it could be a health or fitness goal. In each case, you must be like a sniper, rifling in on your highest priority at the moment, rather than a machine gunner, shooting off randomly by attempting to do too many things at the same time.

The Right Thing To Do

The metaphysician and philosopher Peter Ouspensky was once asked by a student, “How do I know what is the right thing for me to do?” Ouspensky replied, “If you tell me your aim, I can tell you what is the right thing for you to do.”

This is an important parable. The only way that you can determine what is right or wrong, more or less important, having higher or lower priority, is by first determining your aim, or goal at that particular moment. From that point forward, you can divide all of your activities into “A” activities or “B” activities.

An “A” activity is something that moves you toward your goal, the faster and more directly the better. A “B” activity is an activity that does not move you toward a goal that is important to you.

The Role of Intelligence

In Gallup interviews of thousands of men and women to determine the root causes of success in life and work, the importance of “intelligence” was mentioned again and again. But when the researchers pressed for the definition of “intelligence,” they received an interesting answer. Intelligence was not defined as IQ or grades in school. Rather, intelligence was most commonly defined as a “way of acting.”

In other words, if you act intelligently, you are intelligent. If you act unintelligently, you are unintelligent, irrespective of the grades you may have received or the degrees you have earned.

And what then, by definition, is an intelligent way of acting? An intelligent way of acting is anything that you do that is consistent with achieving the goals that you set for yourself. Each time that you do something that moves you closer toward something that you really want, you are acting intelligently. On the other hand, an unintelligent way of acting is doing things that are not moving you toward your goals, or even worse, moving you away from your goals.

To put it bluntly, anything that you do that does not help you achieve something that you have decided that you want for yourself that is acting in a stupid manner. The world is full of people who are acting stupidly every day, and they are not even aware of what a negative effect this is having on their lives.

Determine Your Long Term Goals

Time management begins with clarity. You take the time to sit down with a piece of paper and think through exactly what it is you want to accomplish in each area of your life. You decide upon your ultimate, long-term goals of financial success, family success or personal health and fitness. Once you are clear about the targets you are aiming at, you then come back to the present and plan every minute and hour of every day so that you accomplish the very most that you possibly can with the time allocated to you.

Begin With A List

The basic tool of time management is a list, organized by priority, and used as a constant tool for personal management. The fact is that you can’t manage time; you can only manage yourself. That is why time management requires self-discipline, self-control and self- mastery. Time management requires that you make the best choices and decisions necessary to enhance the quality of your life and work, and then you follow through on your decisions.

You should plan your life with lists of long-term, medium-term and short-term goals and projects. You should plan every month, in advance, with a list of the things you want to accomplish during that month. You should make a list of every step in each multi-task job that you want to complete, and then organize that list by priority and sequence.

Use Advance Planning

Begin today to plan every week in advance, preferably the Sunday before. Plan every day in advance, preferably the night before.

When you make a list of everything you have to do for the following day, your subconscious mind works on that list, all night long. When you wake up in the morning, you will often have ideas and insights to help you accomplish the items on your list. By writing out your plans, you will activate the Law of Attraction. You will begin attracting into your life, people, opportunities and resources that you need to achieve your goals and complete your tasks the very best way possible.

Separate the Urgent From The Important

In the process of managing your time, you must separate the “urgent” from the “important.” Urgent tasks are tasks those that are “in your face.” They are determined by external pressures and requirements. They are things that you must do immediately. Most people spend most of their days responding and reacting to urgent tasks, in the form of telephone calls, interruptions, emergencies, and the demands of your boss and your customers.

Important tasks on the other hand are those tasks that can contribute the very most to your long-term future. Some of these tasks may be planning, organizing, studying, researching your customers and setting priorities before you begin.

Then there are tasks that are urgent but not important, such as a ringing telephone, or a coworker who wants to chat. Because these activities take place during the workday, it is easy to confuse them with real work. The difference however is that they produce no results. No matter how many urgent but unimportant activities you engage in, you contribute nothing to your work or your company.

The fourth category of tasks includes those that are neither urgent nor important, like reading the paper at work, or going for a long lunch. These activities are positively harmful to your career because they consume time that you could be using to get the results for which you are paid and upon which your future depends.

Consider The Consequences

The most important word in determining the value of a particular task or activity is the word “consequences.” A task that is valuable and important is a task that has serious consequences for completion or non-completion. The greater the possible consequences of a task or activity, the more important it is.

A task for which there are few if any consequences is by definition not particularly important. Your aim in personal management therefore is to spend more time doing more of those things that can have the greatest possible consequences on your life and work.

Apply the 80/20 Rule

Once you have prepared a list of tasks for the coming day, review your list and apply the 80/20 Rule before you begin.

The 80/20 Rule says that 20% of your activities will account for 80% of the value of all of your activities. If you have a list of ten items to complete, two of those items will be more valuable than other eight items all together. Two of the ten tasks will have greater potential consequences for completion than the other 80%.

Sometimes it will even be the “90/10 Rule” that applies. Often one task on a list of ten items you have to do during the day will contain more value than everything else put together. This task unfortunately is usually the task that you will procrastinate on most readily.

Practice Creative Procrastination

Once you have identified your top 20% of tasks, you can then practice “creative procrastination” on the others. Since you cannot do everything, you will have to procrastinate on something. The only question is, “Which of your tasks are you going to procrastinate on?”

And the answer is simple. Procrastinate on the 80% of tasks that contribute very little to your desired goals and results. Focus your time and attention on completing those one or two jobs that can make the most difference. Focus your attention on those tasks that can have the greatest possible consequences for successful completion.

Practice the ABCDE Method

Another method of setting priorities is the ABCDE Method. This method requires that you review your list of tasks, before you begin, and put an A, B, C, D or E next to each one. The very act of performing this exercise and thinking through your tasks before you start work will dramatically increase your efficiency and effectiveness once you begin working.

An “A” task is something that is very important. It has serious consequences for completion or non-completion. If you do it or don’t do it, it can have a major impact on your results and your success. You should always do your “A” tasks before anything else.

If you have more than one “A” task, you organize them by priority, as “A-1, A-2, A-3,” and so on. Once you have completed this exercise, you then identify your A-1 task and focus all of your energies on starting and completing this job before you do anything else.

A “B” task is something that you should do. It has mild consequences for completion or non-completion. For example, calling a friend, going for lunch with your coworkers or checking your email would be a “B” task. If you do it or don’t do it, it may cause some inconvenience, but the consequences for your life are minor.

A “C” task is a task that would be nice to do but it will have no consequences at all. Having another cup of coffee, chatting with a coworker, reading the paper or going shopping during the day are all “C” tasks. Whether you do them or not, they will have no consequences in your life or work at all.

The rule is this: Never do a “B” task when there is an “A” task left undone. Never do a “C” task when you have a “B” task left undone. Keep focused on your “A” tasks, throughout the day.

A “D” task is something that you can delegate to someone else who works at a lower hourly rate than you do, or than you want to earn. The rule is that you should delegate everything you possible can so that you have more time to devote to your “A” tasks, the ones that determine most of your success and happiness in life and work.

An “E” task is something that you eliminate altogether. These can be old activities that are no longer important in the achievement of your most important goals today. Much of what you do during the day or week can be eliminated with no consequences at all.

The Law of the Excluded Alternative

You are always free to choose. It is in this hour-by-hour and minute- by-minute choosing of what you will do, and simultaneously, what you will not do, that your entire life is made. The Law of the Excluded Alternative says that, “Doing one thing means not doing something else.”

Whenever you begin on a task of any kind, you are consciously or unconsciously deciding not to do any other task that you could do at that moment. Your ability to choose wisely in terms of what you do first, what you do second and what you do not at all determines your entire life.

Choose the Most Valuable Task

Successful, highly paid people are usually no more intelligent or skilled than unsuccessful, lowly paid people. The major difference between them is that successful people are always working on tasks of high value. Unsuccessful people are always killing time on tasks of low value. And you are always free to choose. You are always free to choose what you do more of and what you do less of. Your choices ultimately determine everything that happens to you.

Practice Single-Handling On Each Task

Single handling is one of the most powerful time and personal management techniques of all. What this means is that, once you have selected your A-1 task, you start on that task and work on it with single-minded concentration until it is 100% complete. You discipline yourself to concentrate without diversion or distraction.

If you find yourself getting distracted, or you feel tempted to take a break or procrastinate, you motivate yourself by continually repeating, “Back to work! Back to work! Back to work!” You then renew your efforts to push the task through to completion.

Thomas Edison once wrote, “My success is due more to my ability to work continuously on one thing without stopping than to any other single quality.” You should practice this principle as well.

Create Chunks of Time

Plan your day in advance and create 30, 60 and 90-minute chunks of uninterrupted work time. These are time blocks when you can work without interruption or pause on your most important tasks. These chunks are essential for the accomplishment of any large, important task.

One way to create long periods of work time is to rise early and work non-stop, without interruption, on a major task, project or proposal. Sometimes you can create chunks of time in the evenings or on the weekends. But the fact is, all important jobs, those with serious potential consequences, require large chunks of single-minded, concentrated time and energy.

Earl Nightingale once said, “Every great accomplishment of mankind has been preceded by an extended period, often over many years, of concentrated effort.”

Keep Yourself On Track

Each day, before you begin, and as you go through the day, there are five questions that you need to ask and answer, over and over again.

The first of these questions is, “Why am I on the payroll?” What exactly have you been hired to accomplish? If you were being questioned by your boss, and your boss were to ask you, “Why do we pay you money around here?” what would be your answer?

The fact is that you have been hired to achieve specific results that have economic value to your organization. And of all your results, 20% of what you do contributes 80% of your value. You must be crystal clear about exactly why you are on the payroll and then focus your time and attention, all day long, on doing exactly those tasks that make the greatest difference to your business or organization.

Focus On High Value Activities

The second question that you should ask yourself all day long is, “What are my highest value activities?” These are the activities that represent the highest and best use of your talents, skills, experience and abilities as they relate to your company, career and organization. What are they?

If you are not absolutely sure of the answers, go and ask your boss what he or she thinks your highest value activities might be. Whatever the answer, dedicate yourself to working on these specific tasks all day long.

Work On Your Key Result Areas

The third question you should ask all day long is “What are my key result areas?” As we mentioned earlier, your key result areas are those tasks that you absolutely, positively must complete in an excellent fashion if you are to achieve the most important results required of your job. They largely determine your success or failure at work.

You should clearly identify each of these tasks and then focus on not only performing at your best in each of them, but also at becoming better in each key result area every day. Remember, your weakest key skill sets the height at which you can use all your other skills. Don’t allow yourself to be held back because of a weakness in one area, especially when you can learn anything you need to know to excel in that particular area.

Make A Difference!

The fourth question you should ask yourself throughout the day is this, “What can I and only I do, that if done well, will make a real difference to my company?”

This is one of the best questions of all for keeping yourself focused and on track. What is it that you and only you can do that can make the greatest difference in your career? Again, if you are not sure of the answer, go and ask your boss. Sometimes, he or she will not have thought this through before you bring him or her the question.
Sometimes, he or she will not have thought about it at all.

But once both of you are in agreement on the one or two things you can do that will make more of a difference than anything else, you should focus all of your energies on performing those particular tasks quickly and well. This will do more to help you in your career than any other single decision you make.

The Most Important Question Of All

The fifth question, and perhaps the best question in all of time management is this: “What is the most valuable use of my time, right now?” All techniques and methods of goal setting, personal planning and time management are aimed at helping you to accurately answer this question, every minute of every day. What is the most valuable use of your time, right now?

When you discipline yourself to ask and answer this question repeatedly, and you are sure that whatever you are doing is the answer to this question, you will start to accomplish two and three times as much as the people around you. You will become more and more productive. You will plow through more work of higher value, and accomplish greater results than anyone around you. Discipline yourself to keep working on the most valuable use of your time, whatever it may be at the moment, and your success is guaranteed.

Become Intensely Result-Oriented

In the final analysis, the key to high productivity and performance is this: Dedicate yourself to getting better and better at the few things that you do that account for most of your results. Simultaneously, learn to delegate, outsource and eliminate all those tasks and activities that contribute very little to your results and rewards.

As Goethe said, “The things that matter most must never be at the mercy of the things that matter least.” Perhaps the best single word in time management is the word “No!” Just say “No!” to any demand on your time that is not the most valuable use of your time at the moment.

Develop the Habits of Time Management

The good news is that time management is a skill and a discipline that you can learn with practice. One rule for success is, “Develop good habits and make them your masters.”

You can become excellent at time management with daily practice. Make a list of your tasks every day, before you begin.

Organize your list by priority, separating the urgent from the important, and using the 80/20 Rule or the ABCDE method. Choose your most important task and then begin working immediately on that task. Discipline yourself to concentrate single- mindedly on that one task or activity until it is 100% complete.

Each time you complete an important task, you will experience a burst of elation, enthusiasm and heightened self-esteem. You will feel energized and stronger. You will feel happier and more in control of your life. You will feel on top of your work. You will be even more motivated to start in on, and complete, your next major task.

Whenever you find yourself slowing down, or experiencing the urge to procrastinate or delay, repeat to yourself, “Do it now! Do it now! Do it now!” Develop a sense of urgency. Create a bias for action. Get started, get going, and work fast. Discipline yourself to select your most important task and then launch into it immediately and then stay with it until it is done. These time management practices are the keys to peak performance in every part of your life.

Manage Your Time Well:

1. Make a list of everything you would like to be, do or have in the months and years ahead. Analyze your list and select those items that can have the greatest possible consequences on your life.

2. Make a list of everything you have to do the next day the evening before. Let your subconscious mind work on your list while you sleep.

3. Organize your list by priority using the 80/20 Rule and the ABCDE Method. Separate the urgent from the non-urgent and the important from the non-important, before you begin.

4. Select the most important task, the one with the greatest possible consequences for completion or non-completion, and circle it, making it your A-1 job.

5. Begin immediately on your most important task and then discipline yourself to concentrate single-mindedly on this one task until it is 100% complete.

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