Time Management: a popular subject proven by the number of articles and books written on the topic. It is like medicine, you know you need it but you keep trying to find the pill that is not so bitter. I am also guilty of this and after reading many books about time management I realize they are all the same but with different covers. We are all fond of great quotes but the effect only lasts a few seconds. Once you become comfortable with your own routine, it’s difficult to change and you go back to behaving exactly the way you have been. After a few weeks or months, you try again, read another book and then follow the same pattern. In the end, you are what you are; comfortable in your own skin.
After many failed attempts at the typical time management techniques, I realize that I will never be able to plan out my day minute by minute. Because of this, I found a simple 2 step process that works for me so I thought I would share.
Before you start, you must first accept that you will have to change, which is the most difficult part. We all become very uncomfortable if we don’t experience the things which we are used to. We are in our comfort zone and don’t want to take any steps away from it. Even if we change for a few days, we don’t like it and go back slowly, gradually but surely. Accept the abnormal and understand that it will be the new normal.
Step 1: TOP 2 ACTIVITIES:
Make a list of the top 2 activities that bring results in your daily life. For example, a salesperson might choose cold calling (for new prospects) and maintaining the existing client list as their two activities. Eat the ugliest frog first; do the cold calling and then go on to maintaining existing clients. As long as you develop the habit of doing these activities daily, you will be able to accomplish your goals each day. There will be no need to maintain an hourly status and you will see positive results from your two targeted activities.
Step 2: UNPLANNED WORK:
Learn to say NO and manage unplanned work. Most of us get consumed by unplanned work. We are happy to do it as it is a welcome distraction and at the end of the day, we rationalize to ourselves that we did well. I know many of you are wondering how I can comment on your unplanned work. I understand that there could be an emergency once in a while, but if catering to emergencies and fighting fires takes up a significant portion of your day, then something is fundamentally wrong with your process. Please go back to the drawing board and see how you could restructure your work so that you are not in fire-fighting mode every day.
At the end of the day, try to develop new habits. Take baby steps. If you have not been managing your day at all and suddenly you want to manage 8 hours, it won’t happen. You will do that for a few days and then go back to your normal routine. Do your top 2 activities daily without any fail and you will be on your way to better time management skills.