Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Top 10 Rules of Time Management

Time management truly is critical to becoming productive, doing everything you want to, and achieving ultimate success.  

"Time is more valuable than money. You can get more money, but you cannot get more time."  - Jim Rohn

Therefore it is imperative we learn to manage the finite amount of time we do have to make the most of it.  I have learned to use the following ten time management guidelines successfully to get things done:

1. Know how you currently spend your time. The simplest way to do this is to keep a log of what you do each day for a period time. While this may initially feel like a time waster, it is a necessary planning step. Just like you can't budget your money without knowing where you're currently spending it, you can't budget your time without knowing where it's going either. By keeping a log you'll become more aware of stress times and down times, and will be better equipped to plan your time.

2. Identify your "prime time." Your "prime time" is your most productive time.  For many people that time tends to be in the morning while others find it take a while to get going. By scheduling your most important tasks for the times you're at your best, you'll be able to get them done faster and more effectively.

3. Do tomorrow's planning tonight. Being prepared for the coming day will enable you to get more work done, and be more effective at what you do. As you wind down at the end of the day use this time to create a simple, prioritized to-do list, so you'll be better able to focus on what needs to be done the next day.

4. Continually ask yourself "Why am I doing what I'm doing right now?" If you cannot answer this question, you are not being as productive as you could be. Make sure that you are doing something for a specific reason, and simply not wasting your valuable time spinning your wheels.

5. Handle each piece of paper or e-mail once. When you have completed a task, either file it away or pass it on to someone else. When doing tasks and making decisions, make the decision and then stick to it. Do not put off making a decision, and don't make vague, wishy-washy decisions. Being more decisive will free you up to move on to other tasks, making you more productive.

6. Plan your work, then work your plan. It is important that you always follow through with what you intend to do, otherwise you are making your plan irrelevant and negating the value of the planning time.

7. Delete whenever possible. It is important that you frequently revisit your plan and task list. Always cross off the tasks and projects you have completed, and eliminate or delegate those that are no longer important.

8. Delegate wisely. When you delegate a task to another person, make sure the person you are delegating it to has clear instructions on how to complete the task, has enough resources for the task, and has the authority to make any decisions that might affect the outcome of the task.

9. Identify your high-payoff items. Make sure that you concentrate on the right tasks, which will generate results for you and your company.  Stephen Covey suggests first addressing tasks that are both Important and Urgent.  Effective time management is not about being busy, but about getting results.

10. Work from a prioritized action list. You need to determine what your work priorities are, both short term and long term. I suggest using a standard method like the Formula for Success  to prioritize your action list for the greatest success.

What time management techniques have you found effective to increase your productivity?  Share them below in the comment section for others to learn more.

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