Time management is, by far, one of the most challenging aspects of life to pin down — both professionally and personally. The main reason is that life is constantly throwing new things our way that we have to work into our schedules and dedicate time to, thereby throwing a wrench in our well-planned out (or not so well-planned out) planners.
The truth is, this will never stop. No matter how successful we all become, no matter how many assistants we hire, we will always have to adapt and adjust. However, unforeseen circumstances aside, there are ways that we can improve our time management skills.
If we look at every highly successful person, they will have created a time management system that works for them, and they have stuck to it. The key phrase here is “that works for them.” Everyone operates differently. It’s reasonable to assume that Warren Buffet and Mark Wahlberg don’t have the same schedules. It’s because their daily goals are different, yet their long-term goals are likely very similar — to be as successful as possible.
To be successful, you must possess the same time management skills and traits of highly successful people and apply them to your life. There’s no getting around it. Increasing your time management skills is challenging and takes a lot of practice. But by simply applying the following strategies, before you know it, you’ll be managing your time like a pro.
Time management is more than just managing your time at work. To be highly effective, you must also manage your time outside of work. When you break everything down, three main areas of your life need to be closely monitored — wealth (professional), health, and relationships.
These three areas definitely don’t hold the same weight for everyone. For many of us, we pour all our energy into one aspect of these aspects, and the other two are left wanting. Although one or two may not be as important to you at the moment, it’s critical to understand that they are all vital aspects of success and living a well-rounded life. We must remember things that once meant a lot to us may not mean as much as we get older.
To maintain a healthy balance with these three pillars of life, we must set goals for each. Once we set those goals, we then must begin to manage our time in a way in which we can achieve them.
To have effective time management skills, the goals we set must be realistic. Breaking your goals into daily, short-term, and long-term goals is essential for achieving them.
Our daily to-do lists can be overwhelming. Somewhere in the mix, there should be two to three things in your day that you must get done so that you can achieve your short-term health, wealth, and relationship goals. You mustn’t overload yourself with your day-to-day goal setting; otherwise, it’s easy to become discouraged if you don’t check everything off your list. Set a few realistically achievable goals, then do the same the next day, then the next.
Your short-term goals list is what your daily goals are working towards. Short-term goals can be monthly, quarterly, or even yearly. It all depends on how far out your long-term goals are and how much time you have daily to dedicate to your day-to-day objectives. Good examples of short-term goals include; going to the gym three days a week for a month or increasing your sales by 3% this quarter.
Here again, time-frame is in the eye of the beholder; however, long-term goals generally span at least five to ten years. Hence why you hear the terms; five-year plan and ten-year plan quite often. It’s okay to have many long-term goals, some of which can span decades. Retiring with $5M is an example of a specific long-term goal. It’s crucial to make these goals, like the others, realistic and attainable.
No matter what anyone tells you, no one is productive all ours of the day, and if they try to be, it will ultimately decrease productivity. We all need to relax, recharge, and distract ourselves from our daily grind so that we may be returned to it refreshed. By defining distractions and scheduling a few “distraction time slots” throughout the day, you can more clearly schedule the times to work toward your goals.
The phrase “perfect practice makes perfect” is accurate in many aspects of life. It’s essential to stop and take stock of your time management practices over the course of days, weeks, months, and years. By doing so, we can re-evaluate what’s working and try to build on those practices while eliminating what’s ineffective. It’s been said that time management falls within the 80/20 rule, meaning 80% of our results come from 20% of our activities. By defining and improving the 20% skills that get these results, we give ourselves more opportunities to achieve our goals.
You’ll notice that we never provided some time management template or time measurement metric that will magically improve your time management skills. That’s because becoming a time management pro takes hard work and dedication, like anything else. Also, there is no one-size-fits-all approach since we all have such different lives and personalities. The cornerstones of effective time management are to define your goals and work toward them.
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