25 Time Management Strategies
In January and February 2011, I attended a two-part session on time management by Heartwork Organizing. Here’s a list of 25 strategies I obtained from that session with the ones I am working on in bold. Let me know three of the 25 strategies you think you could use.
- Keep a weekly (not daily) to-do list.
- Note 3 top priorities/projects/tasks to complete each day.
- Using the 80/20 rule (only 20% of your tasks are most important), ensure the tasks in your 20% are the first ones you tackle.
- Carry your planner everywhere, even to church, gym, and dates/appointments.
- Be aware when you are making a commitment to yourself and others.
- Make written appointments with yourself, and keep them as routinely as you would with your hairdresser.
- Separate making your to-do list from accomplishing your to-do list.
- Separate projects from tasks.
- Schedule time on your calendar to work on projects.
- Never check your email before __(insert customized time here)__.
- When working on projects at your computer, don’t leave your email and browser programs open.
- Use a sheet of paper as a “time container” and only write until full.
- Use “sticky notes” as disposable containers, not permanent records.
- Use “Prince/Princess time management” because you are a Son/Daughter of the King.
- Keep your calendar free enough to entertain angels.
- Beware of the latest electronic gadget as a time waster.
- When spinning, ask “What is the next thing I have to do?” and do it.
- Build in rewards for your efforts (e.g, I will get a snack after I finish this proposal).
- Remove technical issues when they exist.
- Ensure written goals are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-bound.
- Practice conscious breathing. Schedule it if necessary.
- Decide if your tasks pass the five-year test. (What’s going to be important five years from now?)
- Use a time to chunk out unpleasant/large tasks 15 minutes at a time.
- Learn how to use your cell phone or microwave timer.
- Prioritize people over things.
Not all of these are practical tips for me. For example, I wouldn’t check my email before 5:30 in the morning because I’m likely sleeping, but if I don’t check it before noon, I’m at work where I really can’t view it. It’s also the primary means of contacting me during the day.
Why did I choose those three tips?
1. Note 3 top priorities/projects/tasks to complete each day. I often write a list of 21 things I’d like to accomplish each day, and really, that’s not feasible. Noting the top 3 tasks that I must get done TODAY helps me focus on what’s really important. I believe the 80/20 rule is also a part of this.
Tsh Oxenreider, author of Organized Simplicity and blogger at SimpleMom.net, recommends doing this by highlighting three MITs (Most Important Tasks). She offers a Daily Docket and a Pocket Docket for download on her site. (Note: The Docket links are PDFs.) I’d highly recommend reading Organized Simplicity or how Oxenreider uses her Daily Docket.
The Franklin Covey organizer also recommends using an A–B–C system to prioritize tasks and projects, which I’ve found helpful. (Here’s a PDF of this for your convenience.)
A tasks are high priority items that need to be accomplished that day and rescheduling is non-negotiable, e.g., finishing a proposal due that day by 5 pm.
B tasks are medium priority items that could be accomplished today but if rescheduled for another day won’t affect the outcome adversely e.g., getting an updated photo taken at the DMV for an expiring ID.
C tasks are optional items that could be completed but if not accomplished, won’t have any adverse effects, e.g., reorganizing the pantry. (A good gauge between B and C tasks: B tasks will eventually become A tasks.)
2. Ensure written goals are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-bound. I discuss this extensively in an upcoming post in December about how I did on my 2011 resolutions, but I’ll use a portion of the post here:
Specific: Answers who (you), what (the goal), why (are you doing this?), where (if applicable as in Philadelphia for a marathon), and which problems (current leg injury).
Measurable: Answers how (how much will you train? how many miles will you run? how will you know if you’ve met your time goal?)
Attainable: Is this goal doable? What specific practices do you need to implement in order to meet the goal?
Realistic: Can you realistically do this? Are there any/will there be any constraints that will keep you from meeting your goal?
Time-bound: Answers when (the goal must be met). Break down the when into smaller increments (e.g., training every day but Sunday for the next 12 weeks). Again, evaluate whether this is realistic.
3. Prioritize people over things. I honestly suck at this. I am very task-oriented to the detriment of spending time with other people, including my husband. It annoys me to do what I perceive as nothing. Watching TV feels unproductive hence I tend to avoid watching TV. However, I have made a conscious effort to spend time with people by watching TV or movies. When all is said and done, I’m usually happy with the results of spending time with people, but my brain fights tooth and nail against it.
Also, don’t hesitate to share with me why you chose the three tips you selected.