Time management can be a difficult thing to take control of. The things, people, and projects in your life that are high value are often perceived as different that things that are urgent.
In reality though, the only things that matter are the things that are important to you.
Time Management or Time Mastery, as I refer to it, is simply about removing the distractions so the things that are important and urgent are 100% aligned with your purpose.
There is no either or list. There is just one list.
This is just one path to follow, based on absolute clarity about what matters to you in respect of your health, your life, your relationships and your business.
If you don’t have this alignment in your life, the next question is – Is there anything I can do about it?
The good news is there is. If we all have 24 hours in a day, how do we actually use them more effectively based on our higher purpose?
How can we manage our time to live a more joyful, purpose driven life, so we work on the things we know are important, whilst taking action on our urgent responsibilities?
In my experience, there are four time management strategies that actually get results in real life. They are each part of my ‘Productivity Priority’ system.
If you take action on each of them, it will improve your life, health, business and productivity.
Take a time audit
Do you have clarity on where you’re spending your time each day? What projects you’re working on. How many meetings you’re having. How much time you are spending on social media or answering emails.
How much time are you using on high value activities that moves you closer to your goals? To your true purpose?
How much time are you dedicating to serving? To creation? To building wealth in your business?
So, try this. Get a blank piece of paper. Draw three lines down the page. Section One is for ‘High Value Work’, Section Two is for ‘Good Work’ and Section Three is for ‘Low Value Work’.
Analyse the time you are spending in each area. Is this where you want to be spending your time? If it’s not create a change today.
Ask yourself how can you spend more time doing High Value Work that creates the biggest impact and is aligned to your higher purpose of the future vision you want to create for yourself.
Cut out all things that aren’t aligned with your purpose
To improve your time management skills it helps to spend more time doing high value work. It also becomes equally important to have a ‘Not To Do List’ as creating a powerful list of activities and people that you want to focus your time on.
Look at your ‘Good Work’ list and ‘Low Value Work’ list. Now become a warrior to your own time and start carving out the distractions and work you don’t want to be doing.
Stop drifting from your purpose and getting caught up in small work and other people’s problems.
It’s really easy to spread ourselves paper thin. To have our attention shift from what we should be doing and what we think we should do.
In a typical day we’re trying to balance the real work that brings us joy and moves us towards our ideal future with the need for messages, emails, social media updates, to-do lists.
Some of the good work will be important but are you the best person to do this?
Can it be outsourced or delegated so your time is focused on creating, serving and achieving?
Here are some examples of “low value work”….
- You start writing a sales letter, but stop randomly to check your phone for no reason or to open up Facebook.
- You hear that everyone is doing video so you feel you should give it a try. It’s not what you want to do, and not aligned to where you really want to get to. Two days later, you read about another “new” way to get clients and try a little bit of that. You make little progress in either activity and so you start searching for something better.
- Your mind wanders to a video or your email inbox while you’re on the phone with someone important.
I’m sure you can come up with a number of examples. But, the result is usually the same: you’re never fully engaged in the task at hand, you rarely commit to a task for extended periods of time, and it takes you four times as long to accomplish half as much.
Like many people, I also deal with this problem. The best way I’ve found to overcome it is to outsource the things I don’t want to do, block out significant time to focus on the most important projects and go deep on learning the techniques that will help me reach my goals. one project and eliminate everything else.
I carve out half a day, or sometimes a full day, to focus on key projects in my business with no distractions whatsoever.
To ensure I don’t drift I take regular recuperative breaks.
How much more could you achieve if you did the work you needed to do, the way you needed to do it, and eliminated or outsourced the work you really don’t want to do?
Do the most important thing first.
This is key to time management. Start your day by asking yourself: “What’s the Number One thing I absolutely have to achieve today?”
Once you are clear on that, and you commit to achieving that thing, chances are you WILL actually do the work.
This technique will stop the disorder, distractions and chaos from impacting on your day. The reason. You have made a conscious decision at the start of the day, when your willpower is strong.
Have you noticed that as the day wears on you have less and less willpower and energy to focus? So, do the most important thing or things first.
If I have set up calls with a potential client, I do this in the morning. If I have an important article to write, I again do this in the morning.
Whatever, your most important thing is, if you do that thing first, then you’ll never have a day when you didn’t get something important done.
By following this simple strategy, you will usually end up having a very productive day.
Reduce the workload, but stick to your plan.
You can only complete a small number of big projects or tasks in a day.
When you are clear on the work you are doing, the outcome you want to deliver and the action plan to achieve it then you must decide how important it is and when you deliver it by.
Rather than give yourself 10 things to work on scale that back to the 5 most important ones.
Create a step by step process for each project and create your own schedule to complete the work.
For example, let’s say your most important activity for the day was to write a sales letter. You know this work would make a massive difference in how you market your business.
But, during the day you had lots of other queries and problems come up that had to be dealt with. You are only left with an hour to work on the sales letter rather than the three hours you’ve assigned to it.
So, what do you do:
Option One is to decide that you don’t actually have enough time to complete it so you’ll put it off to another day.
Option Two is to reduce the initial scope of the project. You know the sales letter was important. So, you spend an hour laying out the framework and content ideas for the sale letter.
You’ve still achieved something important and have stuck to your original plan to work on the sales letter that day. given at this point, you have two options.
In my experience, the most effective time management approaches are simple.
Try these four strategies and see where it takes you. I’d love to hear how it work for you so please comment or email me directly here
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About The Author
Mark Pettit helps entrepreneurs and business owners leverage their time to achieve more whilst working less. He helps people achieve their personal and business goals faster through 1:1 business coaching.