"Time is what we want most, but what we use worst." – William Penn
"Time is really the only capital that any human being has, and the only thing he can’t afford to lose." – Thomas Edison
"It’s how we spend our time here and now, that really matters. If you are fed up with the way you have come to interact with time, change it." – Marcia Wieder
Do you ever wish you had more time to do everything? Have you had days that were busy but inefficient? Would you like to be highly productive, feel accomplished at the end of each day, with even time to spare?
The following are ten tip to help master your time, interspersed with thoughtful quotes, many of which from well known, successful individuals who have (obviously) made good use of their time.
1. Do not confuse busyness with productivity. Highly productive people are often less busy than those who are overworked and overwhelmed.
"It’s not enough to be busy, so are the ants. The question is, what are we busy about?" – Henry David Thoreau
2. Do not confuse the urgent with the important. Last-minute distractions from yourself and especially others are not necessarily priorities.
"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life." – Steve Jobs
"If you want to make good use of your time, you’ve got to know what’s most important and then give it all you’ve got." – Lee Iacocca
3. The key to time management is self-management.
"The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot." – Michael Altshuler
For tips on successful self-management, see my articles Are You a Poor Communicator? How to Improve, Seven Ways to Say "No" and Keep Good Relations, and Eight Keys to Life Hardiness and Resiliency.
4. Remember the 80/20 rule of time management, which tells us that 80 percent of the importance of what we do in any given day lies in only twenty percent of the activities. Therefore, if you focus on accomplishing the top twenty percent of the most important tasks, you will feel more productive and satisfied at the end of the day.
"One man gets only a week’s value out of a year while another man gets a full year’s value out of a week." – Charles Richards
“I get paid not by how many hours I work, but by the importance of the problems I solve.” – Anonymous
5. Use a good day planner. The best ones give you at least one full page (or screen) per day, with space allocated for each working hour of the day.
"I must govern the clock, not be governed by it." – Golda Meir
For more on career success, see Five Keys to Enhancing Your Emotional Intelligence, How to Find Your Best Career & Get Paid Doing What You Love, 6 Strategies to Secure Your Job and Advance, and 7 Tips to Successful e-Mail Management.
6. Separate obligatory time from discretionary time. In your day planner, block out all the times when you’re committed to others to be at a certain place at a certain time, such as meetings, conferences and other appointments. What’s not your obligatory time is your discretionary time. This is the time you can manage.
"Realize that now, in this moment of time, you are creating. You are creating your next moment. That is what’s real." – Sara Paddison
7. List: At the beginning of each day, write down a bullet-point list of everything you would like to accomplish this day.
"Make use of time, let not advantage slip." – William Shakespeare
"This time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it." – Ralph Waldo Emerson
8. Prioritize: Next to each bullet-point item, assign an “A” if this is a “must do” item for today, a “B” for “should do” and a “C” for “could do.” For large projects, break it down into small parts and prioritize. Divide-and-conquer.
“For every minute spent organizing, an hour is earned.” – Benjamin Franklin
"The key is in not spending time, but in investing it." – Stephen R. Covey
9. Implement: Focus on accomplishing your “A” list with your discretionary time. Check off each item as it's complete. With this system, even if you only accomplish twenty percent of your entire list for the day, you still would have accomplished eighty percent of the most important work.
"Until we can manage time, we can manage nothing else." – Peter F. Drucker
10. What you don’t finish today, transfer to your list for tomorrow and reprioritize.
In conclusion, when we manage our time wisely, we can be at our productive best, so we can enjoy life more and rest!
"Time equals life; therefore, waste your time and waste of your life, or master your time and master your life." – Alan Lakein
For more on personal and professional effectiveness, download free excerpts of my publications: "Communication Success with Four Personality Types", "How to Communicate Effectively and Handle Difficult People", "Wealth Building Attitudes, Values, and Habits", and "Branding Your Career Like Apple — Lessons from Steve Jobs' Former Boss".
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Preston Ni, M.S.B.A. is available as a presenter, workshop facilitator, and private coach. For more information, write to email@example.com, or visit www.nipreston.com.
© 2012 by Preston C. Ni. All rights reserved worldwide.