Many people feel as if they never have enough time. Have you ever stopped to think why this time seems so scarce, or what you can do to improve your time management skills? Alan Leikin summed up the essence of time beautifully when he said, “Time is life, it’s irreversible and irreplaceable. To waste your time is to waste your life, but to master time is to master your life and make the most of it.” This message is driven home in most management firms and it’s also what’s most important in our daily lives. There’s only 24 hours in a day, and although many of us think that’s not enough, that’s simply because we don’t use our time wisely and judiciously. Here are a few tips to do so and avoid wasting your time.
Let importance take precedence over urgency. No matter how urgent something is, you should always be systematically focusing on importance and suppressing urgency, despite wanting to do otherwise. You must ask yourself, what is most important to me? Even if something seems more pressing, the overall more valuable important things should take precedence. Don’t do something because you need to do it, but rather because it’s important to you that you do it.
Consider the big picture. By nature, human beings will focus on things that demand an immediate response and tunnel-vision out broader objectives. This should be reversed, and despite what you may think, your fight or flight response is not difficult to overcome. Even though our brains are triggered to focus on urgent matters, with planning you can push away urgent matters and focus on the important ones, dedicating all of your time to them.
Schedule your priorities. This is a thing many of us don’t do; we don’t schedule important tasks like writing books or attending practice sessions because of an intrinsic procrastinating attitude that all of us have to some degree. Despite this, you should always keep appointments for people or things that are important to you, such as a friend. Don’t let anything come in your way. Treat our highest priorities right, so do not go halfway when it comes to the most important things in your life.
Establish a list of your most important values. Afterwards, circle things you have time for, and cross out things that you don’t, but wish you had time for. Ask yourself how you can make time for things in the “crossed-out” list. Try to accomplish this in a timely manner, or you’re right back where you started; try to come up with two or three solutions by the end of the day that you start writing the list. You’ll find that most of the things on your crossed-out list don’t get the time they deserve due to some kind of excuse; don’t give in, treat your highest priorities right.
Learn to say no. This is harder than it seems, but it’s an invaluable way to free up time that you otherwise wouldn’t have. The difficulty comes from emotional values that make a person fear rejection or incompetence if they speak up. Don’t get side-tracked if you need to dedicate time to your important tasks, and definitely don’t slow down because someone else wants to use you for something. If your task is truly important, it should be prioritized over anything else that could be coming up.
Important Takeaways: Any complaints of a lack of time are almost guaranteed to be coming from someone focusing on the wrong tasks. Make sure that important tasks are coming before less urgent ones; don’t do something because you have to, but rather because it’s important to you so you want to. Don’t get tunnel-vision from focusing on non time-sensitive tasks. Make sure you’re focusing on the big picture, and suppress the fight or flight response if it’s distracting you.
Make sure you schedule things that are important to you; don’t give them excuses, just fulfill the appointment without question. Make a list of important tasks that you do and don’t have time for, and make it a requirement that the list and the solutions to time problems on your list are finished by the end of the day. Finally, learn to turn down requests from others if they distract you from your important tasks; if they’re truly important, nothing should be interrupting them.