We all have the same 24 hours in the day to make of, as we will, but how is it that some people are able to accomplish so much and others are scrambling to get the minimum required in any given day? How can some find the time to balance work, personal life, health, and family and still manage to take that vacation without stress or concern? What abilities do they have that I don’t?
I was asking myself these same questions 12 years ago as I was struggling to make a living as an actor in New York, working 2 and sometimes 3 jobs to barely get by and make enough to pay for the necessities of life. I was searching for the magical cure to my busy, but unproductive lifestyle and coming up way short.
Some additional challenges that had plagued me throughout my life, and to a much smaller degree still do, was I found myself doing very well managing my time in one specific area of my life and as a result completely fell apart in all other areas. Or, I would get a lot accomplished in the various areas of my life, but many times the tasks accomplished would be secondary in importance and therefore I would feel guilty for not getting everything done. I would catch myself saying things like, “I should have gotten this done” or “I could’ve done more” thus negating the good things accomplished.
If you have found yourself asking the same questions or relating to anyone of these scenarios know that there is hope. I am going to introduce you to four ideas that have had a powerful and profound impact on my ability to accomplish more in any given week and if you’ll apply these concepts to yours, I am confident it can do the same for you.
Before I discuss my strategies know that none of these are original ideas. I have learned these tips from some of the best. As you read further you may find yourself saying, “I already know that” or “I’ve heard that before”. My comments would be “if you ‘know it’ already then why aren’t you doing it?” Plus, we can always use some reminding from time to time.
4 Ideas for Effective Time Management:
Delete, Decide, Determine & Do
DELETE: What I mean is to remove the “stuff” that gets in the way of you accomplishing any task. It is the difference between being busy vs. productive. Two areas that this concept has helped me most are with my use of the computer and reduction of clutter and distractions in my office. I reduced the amount of time spent checking email (twice daily) and simply removed the clutter in my office and with less to distract me I became instantly more productive.
DECIDE: The first step in the accomplishment of any goal or objective is the decision to pursue or achieve it. You must decide what it is you want to or need to accomplish in a given week. Do this for all areas of your life and not just for business.
A helpful way to decide is to plan your week in advance. Take at least one hour (two is ideal) every Sunday to schedule what needs to be accomplished in that coming week. Actually write down what you need to do on a certain day. You will find this to be a super helpful way to focus on the present and what is controllable for the week.
DETERMINE: Once you have written down your objectives for the week, determine what the high priority items are and be sure to accomplish them first. This will help reduce the “I should have done that” game because you’ll have done it. Brian Tracy refers to it in his book “Eat that Frog” that you should tackle the biggest and most challenging task first because as the day goes on that task becomes even bigger, more daunting and less likely to be accomplished.
DO: After determining the most important tasks for the week the only thing left is to do it. The sooner you take action to accomplish the most difficult tasks/objectives the more likely you are to achieve them, the better you will feel and the less stress will creep in your life.
If you will follow these simple steps: delete, decide, determine & do you will find yourself having more time at the end of the day and your stress will be reduced. These steps have also been very instrumental in maintaining the balance that we all so richly deserve between our business and personal lives. I wish you much success and more time to do the things you love.