Time Management a Bitch?

I think we’ve all gone thru times where we thought we had it down and other times where we just can’t manage our days.  The few perfect people out there who manage their schedules perfectly all the time, well, it’s like what Ronald Reagan said about Jimmy Carter, and I paraphrase: “Anyone who says they like taking cold showers is probably lying about other things as well.”

Time management is one of those things that is both an art and a science at the same time.  We need a system in place to handle it, but we also need to paint some large trees in front of what looks like a spot that doesn’t need any large trees (that Bob Ross metaphor was wasted on 75% of my audience!).  The point is, no matter how much we plan our day out, something always gets in the way and we need to adjust our priority list.  There are some things we can do to help prepare before having to make those decisions.

– First off, try recording a time log of your day to see where you are actually spending your precious moments.  You’ll be surprised at how much you can easily adjust or eliminate.  Do this for a week and see if there are any patterns.

– Secondly think of your tasks in quadrants:

Task Quadrant

Important + Urgent = PRIORITIES.  Try to pull some time from quadrants 3 and 4 to work on quadrant 2 when you have some time.  Every piece of paper on your desk or email in your inbox is a decision to be made – eliminate clutter and be smart about those decisions.  Remember to include political implications and risk factors in re-prioritizing but be sure keep that quadrant in mind.

– Planning – VERY IMPORTANT.  Plan 60% of your week and leave holes for unexpected interruptions.  Even block off time for those interruptions so when they don’t come, you can catch up on important tasks.  And schedule those important tasks FIRST.  Remember to EAT THAT FROG and reward yourself for doing so with a nice break, a snack, a stroll. . .Your MIP#1 (Most Important Project) should be at 9a – NOT AFTER EMAILS.  Catch up after MIP#1.  Then to MIP#2.  If you can get these out of the way early, your day will be much more stress free and productive.

– 55/5 to work more efficiently.  Do not plan full hours or half hours.  Even meetings.  Plan 55 minutes and use the other 5 to grab a few emails or decompress in case you have back to backs.

– And for crying out loud, take a lunch, talk to a colleague, go for a walk.  There are those days where you will be non-stop, literally from the time you walk in to the time you leave, but leave those stress filled days to the CEO – and hell, even they need to follow this advice or stocks will fall!  (Luckily they have private planes and executive assistants to aid in their juggling).

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