By Dr. Darcy Smith Sterling
Interested in being more productive and lowering your stress? There’s no better solution than time management. But time management is actually a misnomer. It’s not time that needs management. Learn to manage the 10 areas below and you’ll feel like you live in a spa (or at least like you visit one regularly).
1. Manage Your Schedule. Sign up for Gmail and Google calendar, making sure your phone syncs with both. Beginning this week, enter weekly appointments as repeating appointments and enter new appointments as you commit to them.
2. Manage Your Day. Now that everything’s in a calendar, spend the first 15 minutes of your workday by looking at your calendar to decide how you want to spend your day. Utilize Google Calendar’s Tasks as to-dos come to mind and throughout the day. Don’t forget to schedule a 15-minute break at least twice daily.
3. Manage Your Words. Delete the phrase, “I don’t have enough time” from your vocabulary. Newsflash: The one thing in life that is equal is time. We all have the same amount. It’s how we use it that distinguishes us. Telling yourself or anyone else that you don’t have time becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
4. Manage Distractions. Close the door, then turn off and log out of everything for 1 hour daily. Control the temptation to check your Facebook, ignore incoming texts, and disregard new tweets for one hour a day. This is your Power Hour. Enter it into your calendar as a daily appointment.
5. Manage Your Focus. We don’t call it a Power Hour for nothing. Now that you have your undivided attention, take some ACTION. How to prioritize? Pretend you have to evacuate your building or your home in one hour. What three tasks would you want an opportunity to complete before running out the door? Those are your three actions for today. Finished with time to spare? Go to one of your dreaded tasks (the ones we’ll walk on fire to avoid) and spend 10 minutes on it. Set a timer and when it rings, stop.
6. Manage Your Goals. Every meeting, phone call, email and task has a goal. Ask yourself what the goal is before you begin. When you hit your goal, begin wrapping up so that you can move on.
7. Manage Your Weaknesses. Figure out where your time management weaknesses are so you can stop wasting time. Don’t know where to start? Take this test to figure it out: http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newHTE_88.htm
8. Manage Multitasking. Multitasking is a myth. Humans can’t multitask and when we try we drop in our level of performance across the board. I know we live in a world where it’s expected of us. I’m not suggesting you make any grand proclamations of multitasking resistance. Keep it simple. Just stop.
9. Manage Projects. Listen, I get it. People major in project management. It’s not a skill that comes naturally for most people. Try clustering the project into three parts. Then, focusing on the first, break it down into three doable steps and do them. Repeat.
10. Manage Expectations. Mostly, Yours. You’re not getting everything done. Not in one day. Not in one year. And you’ll get nothing done if you value perfection over productivity. So be gentle with yourself. This isn’t life or death. It’s just this thing we call life. How you live yours is your choice. No one else’s.