Many people talk about the importance of time management. That’s of little use. What matters is that you are action oriented and focused on execution.
The best laid plans, the most powerful information, the greatest advice – all would be worthless unless backed by focussed, progressive, goal-directed action.
Become known as someone who is action-oriented, who does things, who makes stuff happen.
Once you make the transition from ‘planner’ to ‘do-er’, you’ll be amazed to see how your level of effectiveness, influence and networking grows.
Successful people don’t like to waste time. They understand the importance of time management. Associating with negative, ponderous, slow-moving folks often counts as wasting time.
When you make the shift from ‘talking about plans’ towards ‘doing things’, you’ll notice more successful folks gravitating towards you, offering advice, help, support.
That’s because YOU are now recognized as someone who understands and appreciates the importance of time management!
Here’s a case in point.
For many years, I planned the details of a non-profit project. Thought about various scenarios. Budgeted for different situations. Dreamed out elaborate programs. And did practically nothing.
The reason is because I was caught up in analysis-paralysis. Not realizing the importance of time, I kept dilly-dallying until everything was ‘perfect’.
But until I took the first step, nothing happened.
Today, 9 years later, I’m well on the way towards my goals for the non-profit work – but it couldn’t have happened without that first, inspired, faith-driven action step!
That’s the really important element of time management.
- Not efficiency alone.
- Or goal setting alone.
- Not prioritizing alone.
All those are necessary, even critical.
But without that essential step of being able to take concrete action towards your goals, everything else becomes irrelevant.
So, knowing the importance of time management, what can you do to become more action oriented?
Here are a few time management tips and secrets that the most productive and effective people follow:
1. Avoid emails in the morning.
Nothing is more wasteful of your productive time and destructive to the tone and theme of your work day than indulging in email early in the morning. Set aside time to deal with correspondence, but make sure it’s after the time you assign for your important tasks.
2. Avoid blogging and forums.
Unless you are a professional blogger or coach clients through a forum, these activities should come low down on your priority list for daily tasks. The reason is simple. Chatting, publishing a random thought stream or arguing/debating a point isn’t the best use of your time. That’s what happens when you hang out on forums or keep blog hopping.
3. Have a day-plan – and make it the night before.
That helps set the tone for your day and makes sure that you get started on your work first thing in the morning, without any wasteful delays spent wondering what you should work on and when.
4. Stick to your plan even when you are tempted to deviate.
This is the hardest thing for procrastinators to do, but everyone who understands the importance of time management knows it is vital to success. In fact, that’s the reason you even draw up a plan in the first place. Having done that, deviating from the plan is sheer madness, don’t you agree?
5. Move your office out of the house.
Working from home has become a popular fad. But there’s no doubt that it interferes with the optimum use of your time.
Unless you can treat your work with the seriousness it deserves, you should consider moving your work to an assigned space (even if it’s a small office, or a neighborhood coffee shop!)
6. Evaluate your work effectiveness by paying yourself per hour.
Many successful entrepreneurs who understand the value of their time and know how important it is to follow good time management principles will set a dollar value on their time.
It helps prioritize tasks and turn down distractions that are of lesser value than their time merits.
By incorporating these important time management principles into your daily routine, you’ll find yourself easily boosting your effectiveness and becoming more productive.
A Powerful Time Management Principle
Let me share a story which teaches a powerful time management principle. It applies to everyone, no matter what your occupation or position in life. The story is one that a leading time management expert uses in lectures to his audiences, to drive home a point.
He used a practical demonstration that those students will never forget. Commit this story to your memory… and think about it as you plan your own day, week – and life.
So, here’s this expert, standing in front of an audience of high-powered over achievers. He looked at the crowd of eager, ambitious faces listening attentively to him, curious to learn about the powerful time management principle he had promised them.
He said, “Ok, it’s time for a quiz.”
Then he pulled out a one-gallon, wide-mouthed mason jar and set in on a table in front of him. He then produced about a dozen fist sized rocks and carefully placed them, one at a time, into the jar.
When the jar was filled to the top and no more rocks would fit inside, he asked, “Is this jar full?”
Everyone in the class said, “Yes.” You see, they hadn’t yet learned this unusual time management principle – once they had, their answers would be different!
So, the Professor smiled and asked, “Really?”
See Where This Is Going Yet?
He reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of gravel. He dumped some gravel in and shook the jar, causing pieces of gravel to work themselves down into the spaces between the big rocks.
Then he smiled and asked the group once more, “Is this jar full?”
By this time the class was onto him.
“Probably not,” one of them answered.
“Good!” answered the expert. And again he reached under the table and brought out a bucket of sand.
He started pouring the sand in, and it went into all the spaces left between the rocks and the gravel. Once more he asked the question, “Is this jar full?”
“No!” the class shouted.
Once more he said, “Good!” He grabbed a pitcher of water and began to pour it in until the jar was filled to the brim. Then he looked up at the class and asked,
“What is the point of this demonstration?”
Aware that it had to do with this powerful time management principle, one eager beaver raised his hand and said, “The point is, no matter how full your schedule is, if you try really hard, you can always fit some more things into it!”
Surprised, the speaker said,
“No, that’s not the point at all! The time management principle I’m trying to share through this demonstration is: If you don’t put the big rocks in first, you’ll never get them in at all.”
Big Rocks : The Importance of Time Management
What are the big rocks in your life? The important tasks that lead you closer to your biggest goals, the WHAT of your life.
This may vary in specifics. It may be a project that you want to accomplish. Or more time with your loved ones. Time spent pursuing your faith, or your education. Maybe supporting a worthy cause. Teaching or mentoring others.
No matter what it is, remember to put the BIG ROCKS in first or you’ll never get them in at all. That’s a very important time management principle to keep in mind, one that’s a cornerstone of the Time Management Tao philosophy which is rooted in learning how to
- Find your center – know WHAT to do
- Understand your order – know HOW to do it
- Pick your timing – know WHO to use & WHEN
Important Aspects of Time Management
There are several important aspects of time management that you must learn and master in order to maximize your efficiency and avoid stress or anxiety as you navigate the crowded waters of your busy, over-scheduled day.
One aspect of time management that is easy to control and manage is to keep a time log – and analyze it.
This will help you better understand the things you do in a typical day, so that you may optimize and maximize what you’re doing.
To know how much time you are wasting, you need to keep a time log – and analyze it. For one week (or longer) keep a record of exactly how you spend your time. Break down your day into 1-hour blocks (or half-hour blocks, if that’s more appropriate). At the end of each time block, record your activity carried out.
At the end of the week, study your time usage pattern. You’ll notice several aspects of time management that you’ve been ignoring or overlooking in the rush to cope with your daily to-do list.
Keep Evaluating Performance
See how many hours of time you waste – and assess your peak productivity periods. Armed with this powerful information, you can improve aspects of time management and even schedule the most important activities to coincide with your periods of peak productivity.
Maybe your best time to work is when the rest of the family is asleep, and you can devote all your attention to the work at hand. Or you may be most productive in the morning hours when you’re fresh and rested.
Another important aspect of time management is learning to delegate work to others in your team. Develop skills, or find people with them.
Is there something you do repeatedly, every day? Like typing letters or email. Or sewing buttons or tears in clothes.
Like taking down notes from lectures or seminars. Or reading (or skimming) piles of papers, letters, or news stories.
If you answered “Yes”, then acquiring new skills linked to appreciating the importance of time management could help you save time and enhance your time management.
If you type a lot, and learn to touch-type (by attending a class for 4 weeks), you’ll spend around 30 hours – but the skill you acquire will save you at least as much – in just one year!
A Secret Weapon!
That aspect of time management is often overlooked, but can rationalize your decision to acquire a skill or invest into your future.
What if you learned shorthand – and then speeded up your note-taking and transcription?
Or attended a course on speed reading – which let you flip rapidly through the mountain of paperwork like an express train?
All these new skills cost you time and money to acquire. But over time, these same skills will help you save more time and more money – making the investment worthwhile.
Practice Time Management Daily
Practice makes perfect. That’s true about most things. And so if you work on your time management daily, you will naturally become better at efficiently handling the 24 hours we all have in our day.
There’s no big secret to gaining expertise and growing better. Just repeat and practice. Doing things over and over makes it automatic. It’s called developing a ‘habit’.
This applies to physical, emotional and even thought processes. You’ll manage your time better by appreciating the importance of time management and developing positive habits – and breaking negative ones.
An example will help understand this better.
A Time Wasting Anecdote
Let’s say you’re addicted to a particular time-wasting kind of behavior, like checking your email every 30 minutes. Even if it takes you only 3 minutes each time, in an 8-hour work-day, you’ll spend 48 minutes doing this.
Instead, if you decide that you will check email only during 2 sessions every day and each takes 15 minutes, you’ll actually save 18 minutes.
And surprisingly, you’ll discover that you’re being more effective at handling your email, as well as other work that you’re currently interrupting in order to check email!
That’s how you’ll benefit by practicing time management daily.
Or take another instance.
What if you never exercise, and find yourself running out of steam towards the end of the day. By ‘investing’ 15 minutes in the morning to a light exercise routine, you’ll give yourself enough extra energy that you’ll gain an hour or two of productive work daily.
Starting out to try and develop new good habits takes a bit of discipline and self-control, especially when you’ve decided to work on time management daily. But once the habit gets established, you’ll keep doing it with no conscious effort at all – automatically. That’s the big pay-off, and what makes it all worth doing.
You’ll need a few more things in order to efficiently practice time management daily.
Get a countdown timer. Egg timers work great for this purpose, and are inexpensive.
You can set the amount of time you can allocate to each task, and start the timer. Once the clock is ticking, get busy.
Don’t stop until you’re finished, or the buzzer sounds indicating the time assigned is over. As you practice time management daily, you can even make this a game.
Set yourself ever tighter deadlines.
And then try to beat the clock. Record your progress, and document your fastest times.
Some people who practice time management daily suggest that you work in standard time blocks. But that’s boring and restrictive. Instead, why not play around with different durations – like 5 minutes for one task, 15 for another, and so on.
This keeps things more fun and interesting, while still helping improve your productivity and efficiency.
There are many other ideas and strategies to incorporate into your routines as you learn about the importance of time management daily.
Why Time And Money Management Are Critical To Success
Time and money management are the two skills that can make or break your enterprise or business venture, not to mention having the potential to transform your life and future.
Even if you’ve been struggling to manage your time and get things done, you’ll benefit from some simple but effective changes in the way you plan and schedule your day. Here’s a very powerful time management technique.
Develop your own sense of urgency.
Don’t let your important work stay on the back-burner with the excuse, “I’ll just have to do it tomorrow.”
That’s probably what you say to yourself at the end of a busy, overcrowded and stressful day, when you notice something left undone on your to do list.
Maybe that’s what you’ve been accustomed to doing. But change it today. Create a sense of urgency about things on your schedule.
As you gain management wisdom, you’ll realize that by putting it off until tomorrow, you’ll only end up crowding up your calendar for tomorrow – and putting off something important on that next list. It becomes a…
Never-ending cycle of procrastination.
So unless circumstances absolutely prevent completing the task, you should try and do most of your scheduled tasks on time. And by setting time limits to get them done, you’ll create your own sense of urgency – even about mundane tasks that need to be finished.
Many time and money management courses and programs advice you to treat it like a little game. Bet yourself that you’ll do it in less time than you thought it would take. When you win, it feels good. More important, the task gets done!
Another important concept in time and money management is being able to take responsibility for wasting time (your own and others).
On discussion forums and social networks, there are some folks who complain about how the interactions suck up all their time, preventing them from completing any serious work. They don’t seem to understand the importance of time management.
That never ceases to amaze me. These folks are probably completely ignorant of principles of time and money management.
After all, nobody forces you (or anyone else) to visit forums or Facebook, much less waste your precious time on them! You are the person making this choice.
It’s Time To Take Responsibility
Unless you own up to being responsible for your own time, you’ll never get around that serious hurdle to time wasting – blaming others for your poor time management.
If a meeting drags on longer than scheduled, it is your fault for staying in it. When you waste time on pointless discussions via email exchanges, you are to blame for keeping it going.
If a co-worker drops by uninvited during your peak productivity hours – and chats away merrily, disturbing your concentration and keeping you from working – it’s still YOUR problem… because you put up with it.
By owning up to your own role in time and money management, you will be motivated to take better control of your schedule and avoid time wasting circumstances (or terminate them effectively).
You’ll get many more useful tips on the importance of time management to handle such situations effortlessly when you sign up for our free email newsletter, the “Time Taozine“.
For punchy, powerful time and money management advice, you may also find the Ming Vase Time Management series of e-booklets of some value.
And by adopting the Tao style of managing time, you’ll transform your level of effectiveness.
To learn more time managing secrets, be sure to sign up to the “Time Taozine” below and check out the line of Ming Vase Time Management guides.