“You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage—pleasantly, smilingly, nonapologetically—to say ‘no’ to other things. And the way you do that is by having a bigger ‘yes’ burning inside.”~ Stephen Covey
It seems to be a crazy time for everyone lately, with more things to do than time to do them. In the event that this sounds uncomfortably familiar to you too, I thought it might be helpful to share two time management strategies. They are practical and “doable,” and they always seem to resonate.
Put goals before activities. How often do you start your day with a to-do list, and then just start doing things and crossing them off the list? It’s satisfying to be efficient and get “stuff” done, but if you’re like many people, you aren’t getting to other more important things. Perhaps those bigger or more difficult tasks, like investing in yourself or having a development discussion with one of your direct reports, aren’t even making it to the list…. Managing your time well means getting into the habit of clarifying what you want first, before you start doing. What are your personal and professional goals for the next 3-6 or 6-12 months? These goals may relate to your career growth, your personal or professional development, your well-being, your relationships, and so on. Take the time to write down what you want to achieve, and make these goals as specific and measurable as possible. The act of writing them down makes them clearer and more tangible. With this foundation of written goals in place, you’re ready for the second idea.
Take 15 minutes every Sunday to sketch out the week ahead. This is one of those habits that the most effective time managers just get into. In light of your goals, what do you want to achieve this week? Which “to-dos” will help you move closer to what you REALLY want? What lower-priority things can you choose to say no to, or delegate to someone else? Take the time to literally schedule priorities into your week. You set aside time for the important things and avoid the procrastination trap. Of course, urgent and unexpected things will come up and you’ll have to make adjustments, but less often than you might expect. By thinking ahead a week, you avoid getting sucked into the daily list of tasks and end up focusing on your priorities and accomplishing more.
Try just these 2 ideas — I’ll think you’ll get both quick relief and a greater sense of mastery in how you spend your precious time.