How optimising your time management sets you up for success

How optimising your time management sets you up for success

Traditional approaches to time management involve prioritising, planning, creating to-do lists and ticking off goals.

Yet, despite all of this, if I were to ask you, ‘how’s work?’, your response likely would be, ‘busy!’ And along with busy, you would be feeling tired. They usually go hand in hand.

It’s time to think differently about how we do time management.

Here are five things you can do to overcome overwhelm, take back control, and focus on what’s important.

1. Manage time like you manage money

When we are truly managing our time, we are thinking about it as a valuable resource that we want to get the best return on.

Like money, once time is gone, we are unable to get it back. And, unlike money, we can’t save it or store it, so we have to make the best use of every minute of the day.

Some people earn very little money and still manage to do a lot with it, and others who earn a lot often don’t have much to show for it. It’s the same with time, except we all have the same amount of time. And some people seem to be able to achieve a lot more than others.

2. Identify your best time

Answer the following questions honestly:

  • Is there a time of day when you feel the most alert and energetic?
  • Is there a time of day when you feel foggy and tired?
  • Which of these two times, therefore, would you consider the most valuable?

If you consider your alert and energetic time to be twice as valuable as your foggy and tired time, doesn’t it stand to reason that you would be more discerning about what and who you give that time to?

Think of your time like real estate from now on. Beachfront properties with a water view are generally of higher value. Apartments in Hong Kong will be valued differently to those in Manila. Even in a game of Monopoly we have properties that cost more and give you a greater return than others.

3. Design your best day

Designing your day better means figuring out what needs to be done that day but it goes beyond to-do lists.

Rather than writing down and working through a long list of tasks, we should run our tasks through the filters of intensity and impact.

Intensity is the amount of brainpower a task will require. Does it need deep thinking, concentration and focus (high intensity)? Or can you do it with a blindfold on and one hand behind your back (low intensity)?

Impact is the return you will get on the time and energy you spend. If a task will have a high impact or return, it should be prioritised more highly than something that has low impact.

To be clear, your first priority will be the impact on you and your personal work, then impact on the team, and then impact on the organisation.

4. Protect the first 2 hours of your work day

Scheduling high-intensity and high-impact work for the first two working hours is the first step to truly managing your time.

Not only are the first two hours likely to be our optimal time for getting stuff done, it’s also the time where we can set ourselves up for success.

It’s the time of the day when we can be proactive by choosing what we need to do and taking control. It’s the time for you to work on the things that will give you the greatest return on your energy-input investment.

The first two hours is when we have the greatest levels of alertness and mental capacity, so we need to make the most of it on the most difficult jobs or the things that require great attention.

Protect this time vigorously! Block it in your diary so you have greater control over how it is used.

5. Do things your future self will thank you for

Think about things you could do today, that will make tomorrow better. For example: meal preparation, planning what you will wear, or booking a meeting with yourself so you know you have at least one hour of peace.

It’s always the simple things, done consistently over time, that have the greatest impact. Planning ahead for important things will move your activity horizon from behind you (playing catch-up) to in front of you (getting ahead of the curve).

Following these five tips will not only allow you to maximise your productivity, you’ll be able to better priortise what’s important to you and give you greater control over how you use your time.

Donna McGeorge

This article was written by Donna McGeorge.

Donna is a best-selling author and global authority on productivity. Her book series, It’s About Time, covers meetings, structuring your day, and doing more with less. Purchase a book from the series here.

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