Is time management a skill? The time management skills don’t just happen! Time management skills require you to invest time to organise in order that you increase your productivity efficiency.
Here are time management skills I took from Stephen Covey adapted and improved upon his time management skills resulting in more than 500% increase in my productivity.
In the 90’s the late Stephan Covey published a time management book called First Things First, check it out, read it study, it’s well worth investing your time because it’ll pay HUGE dividends later on.
It’s an excellent book that offers simplified time management and productivity techniques and strategies. In today’s world with the increasing number of distractions in our daily lives these strategies are even more helpful today!
The first step for the time management skill is that you write down all the things you plan or want to get done. Then you begin by prioritizing those items into categories.
I personally do this with colored highlighter and apply a specific color based on priority and importance.
For example, Red for urgent/important, Orange for important but not urgent and Yellow for important.
Important/Urgent Red Highlighter
Important/Not Urgent Yellow Highlighter
Not important/Urgent Green Highlighter
Not important/Not Urgent perhaps no highlight
Using this system I can easily identify the most important and urgent things which must get done NOW. The Important tasks are tasks that offer me the biggest positive impact or outcomes. These are things like; pet projects, ideas. Like writing a blog, making a video, preparing a class or writing a book
And Urgent Items are things like there’s a fire. It’s flooded all over the floor and you need to clean that up and close the window before you start on that project. Or maybe the Wi-Fi has gone down in your house and therefore you can’t start work, answer your boss, or your clients. So you need to solve the Wifi issue first so you can start working on the project.
Important and Urgent Tasks we need to keep at a minimum for effective time management and high productivity.
Because these types of tasks need to be addressed immediately, they put us into reactive mode which limits our freedom to focu on the most productive task.
But ideally, we want to keep those types of tasks to a minimum because those tasks make us stay in reactive mode.
Reactive mode is not the same as proactive. We want to avoid being in reactive mode. Why? Because Reactive mode doesn’t allow for time management skills and you lose control over your time, productivity and efficiency.
Further, it reduces your ability to manage your energy levels. Meaning doing a certain task that suits you at the best time to match your energy level. Worse yet when this happens your productivity and quality goes down. All this occurs when you’re in reactive mode. So switch that telephone on airplane mode!
How do I identify the most Important task?
Simple, ask yourself if I could only get one thing accomplished which activity will have the biggest positivity impact?
So in that project, maybe something that needs one day, one week, one month, one year, three years, I don’t know. It depends on what the project is. You know, if you’re writing a book, it might be three years. If you’re writing a blog article it might be just two or three days.
So you identify and focus on that ONE TASK TODAY that’s going to give you the greatest benefit mid term or long term. Again, focus on the ONE TASK TODAY that’s going to have the greatest impact and schedule a block of time that you will not be interrupted and your energy and focus are best suited for that task.
When’s the best time to schedule a task?
The best time to schedule a task is when your energy levels and focus fits that particular activity. For some people it’s late at night, others it’s early afternoon. It depends on you, are you a night person? Are you an early bird?
For example, I am most creative in the mornings. I can easily focus deeply on any task and for writing that requires me to focus deeply and to be creative.
However I can also train really well in the morning at the gym. I train best in the early morning. Problem is, if I train really hard in the morning, by the afternoon, I’m feeling a little bit tired or physically fatigued.
So in my case, it makes more sense that I do my writing in the morning and I do my training afterwards.
What I am suggesting is you figure out when your energy level is optimal for that specific activity and schedule your time accordingly.
Then less important activities like answering emails, social media stuff you do at another time of the day when your energy will match that task.
Try to always avoid being in reactive mode. There’s really no reason to be answering emails and messages all day long, unless that’s your job description. Otherwise, it’s a serious waste of energy, focus and time. It’s a myth, people do not multi-task, neurologically speaking it’s impossible for a human to multi-task. What happens is you simply switch between tasks which result in losing time, wasting energy, and more importantly losing productivity efficiency.
Why is it a waste of time to multitask because according to multiple research studies switching between tasks reduces productivity meaning you work harder and get less done.
Think of it like this every time you leave a task and return to it takes a few minutes to figure out where you left off, organise how to continue and those minutes are wasted. Brain Tracy claims you can lose as much as 20 minutes each time you stop a task and restart that same task.
So, it’s a bad idea to start and stop a task in the middle due to distraction. Brian Tacy´s rule “touch it once” and avoid multitasking.
Get it done NOW! Is an excellent read.
You want to control your time, or your time and others will control you. It’s up to you to have the freedom to do that. Or you can be a slave to your choice.
However, I frequently hear people say, no, but my boss, my co-worker controls my time, get a grasp, get control of your time, learn the time management strategies, schedule your time. If need be, fire your boss!
So figure out When you are most productive and work on, focus on, that most important task.
That’s why time management is important!
Now number 3 is learning to identify what is not important, but urgent. These might be fun things to do but offer little in the way of productivity. So obviously you don’t even want to do that.
Lastly, identify things that are not important and not urgent. So that might be something that you enjoy doing like leisure activities. So you might want to schedule time for doing some of these things. Like maybe going to the cinema might be an example. It’s not important. It’s not urgent. But you make time for Saturday afternoon or Sunday.
The main thing is what is important that I need to take care of today. What is the most important thing that I can do today that’s going to give me the greatest benefit?
You can learn to delegate certain activities to free up extra time to focus on other projects. But we need to learn how to delegate. Delegating is an art unto itself.
Now, how do we learn to delegate or how do we decide what to delegate?
Here’s a few criteria you can use;
First, I calculate what my time is worth per hour.
Then I contract somebody to take care of that task who can do that task better than me, quicker than me and cheaper than me.
For example if my time is worth, let’s say, 50 bucks an hour, I would want to hire somebody for less than 50 bucks an hour. I would delegate that task to someone who can do that task better than me and quicker than me and more efficiently than me.
One thing to beware of and I see this happen a lot in large organizations. Someone is working on a large project and HR sends them someone to help. But oftentimes (new assistant) they send has no idea how to do the task.
So the project manager has to take valuable time to teach the person how to do the task. And it might take more time and resources than it would take for the project manager to do the task themselves. Here you lose efficiency and productivity.
Obviously, if it’s a task that needs to be repeated it makes sense to train the new assistant but if not it may actually hinder outcome rather than help move the project forward.
So, maybe that’s why time management is important! We’d love to hear your comments!
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