It can be hard to find the time you need to do everything. Consider doing a few key things instead of trying to do everything. To do this, start with 5 simple ideas for managing time that include writing things down, prioritizing tasks, reviewing appointments, blocking out time for getting things done, and remaining flexible in your plans. Following are these five ideas with tips to make your planning more effective.
1. Write down everything you need to do in the same tool.
Great time managers always keep a “to do” list handy for jotting down action items, work tasks, project activities, and ideas they come to mind. The list of tasks should be kept in a convenient location like a notebook, a planner system, or in an electronic system. If you always keep adding to your list, you will know what needs to be done because you can find the list whenever you start to plan what to do each day.
2. Review your tasks and prioritize the items at the same time each day.
This can be done in the morning of the date you plan to work on the items or in the evening of the day before for tomorrow’s items. Determine priorities for each item. Such as high or must do items for the day, medium level items or everyday business, and low priority things that can be put off until another time.
3. Look at your list of appointments for the day and determine which are important to do on this day.
Plan what you need for the important appointments you need to keep, so you will have everything ready before the appointment starts as this will save time during the appointment. Be sure to include paper and pen for taking notes or writing down actions. Then determine what you need to do with appointments you can not keep, such as canceling a lunch date or sending a substitute to a meeting.
4. Schedule blocks of time in your day to work on your to do list.
Schedule high priority items at your peak time, when you are typically most attentive and alert. Then schedule the medium priority items in the remaining time or after appointments. Whenever possible, schedule similar items and errands all in the same time block. For instance plan to make all outgoing calls in the same hour or read and respond to emails during two small blocks of time each day. Concentrating the time spent on the phone or with email, will actually reduce the interruptions they usually cause when working on other key items that have been blocked for your peak periods.
5. Allow for flexibility in your schedule. In other words, don’t over schedule yourself.
In an eight hour time period, you should only plan for 6 hours of medium to high-priority work and appointments. This way your plan is not greatly disrupted if an emergency or crisis situation comes up that you must handle. If little comes up during the flex time, then you can work on something else on your to do list that was not part of the original plan or give yourself a few minutes of down time to unwind and reduce stress or use the time to think creatively.
These five ideas and tips will make your planning more effective and you should become more efficient using them as you time goes by. Remember you can’t do everything, so concentrate on doing key things by writing them down, prioritizing tasks, reviewing appointments, blocking out time for working on important items, and remaining flexible. You will find that time management will become easier with time and practice.