7 Questions To Ask That Will Help You With Time Management
The biggest reason that most time management systems fail is that they are too complex. I always urge my clients to try and stick to simple time management. While I use some computer software to manage my productivity, I am adamant that you must be able to demonstrate your time management system quickly, using pen and paper. While you can use technology to manage your time, if you cannot replicate your system using pen and paper; I believe your system is too complex. Simple time management produces better results because of its simplicity. The simpler a time management system is, the more likely you are to master it, and stick to it, thus producing better results.
Simple time management
The following 7 questions will enable you to master simple time management.
1. What do you want from life?
Simple time management starts with knowing what you want. One of the most common problems that a coach faces, when taking on a new client, is that the client can easily list things they don’t want but they struggle to get specific about what they do want from life. You need to be clear on your purpose.
The best time managers understand that they could never get everything done. They know that they need to focus their energy on completing their most important tasks. To do this, they must be clear on exactly what they want from life.
2.Which tasks are going to get you what you want?
When you are clear on what you are trying to achieve from life, it is much easier to identify the tasks which will help you to achieve it. It may sound too simple but simple time management is about knowing what you need to do and then doing it. When you are clear about what you are trying to achieve, you can set your priorities and focus on completing them. Should you have time to spare, you can then work on some tasks which are less important.
3. What’s the plan?
I do not believe in filling up your calendar with tasks and activities. In fact, I believe that the only items which should make it into your calendar are those that have to be performed at a specific time or on a specific day. Other than that, any remaining time should be filled with the most important task that you can perform with the time and resources available to you at that time.
However, it is essential to begin each day with a plan in mind. This plan should consist of the 1-3 most important tasks that you would like to complete that day. This will ensure that you can keep moving swiftly throughout the day as time and resources become available. This simple time management strategy ensures that you can have a productive day.
4. Are your task lists up to date?
There will always be new tasks coming into your life. Also, you will constantly be removing tasks from your life, by completing them, assigning them to somebody else or determining that they are no longer important. Do your lists reflect these changes?
One of the great difficulties with keeping task lists is that if you are not constantly updating them, they quickly become out of date and confusing. The main benefit of a task lists is that they allow you to quickly determine the most appropriate task to perform next, just by quickly scanning your lists. Unfortunately, if the lists are out of date, the poor quality of information on the lists will increase the likelihood that you will make poor quality decisions. At best, they will confuse you and slow you down. A weekly time management review will enable you to ensure that everything is up to date.
5. What are your hours?
It is not always possible to stick to the same hours every day. However, you should have a good idea of what hours you are going to work on a consistent basis. This makes it far easier to organise yourself, set realistic timelines for your work and maximise your productivity. When you make no effort to define your working hours, it is easier to procrastinate and let your work slide.
While too much pressure can result in stress, too little pressure leads to reduced effort, poor performance and low productivity levels. Defining realistic working hours and setting realistic deadlines will help you to set just the right amount of pressure to optimise both your performance and your productivity. Setting a deadline or a time limit is one of the most simple time management strategies known to man but it is also one of the most powerful.
6. Can you avoid it?
This is not an excuse to do nothing but avoiding taking on unnecessary tasks is the easiest way to clean up your schedule and improve your time management. Just because it would be nice to do something, it does not mean that it has to be done. Just because somebody asks you to do something, it does not mean that you have to do it. Just because something does need to be done, it does not mean that you have to be the one to do it. Before you add something to one of your task lists, you should make it earn its way onto the list. Question whether the task should actually make it as far as your list. Here are some questions that will help you avoid taking on tasks that should not be on your list:
Does it have to be done?
-Could it be automated?
-Am I the best person to do it?
-Does it have to be done now?
By asking these questions every time a new task arrives, you will begin to reduce the number of tasks that make it onto one of your task lists.
7. Where does this belong?
Organisation is a very simple time management strategy. It takes a little effort to set up but when you are properly organised, time management is simple. You need to know where you can find what you need, when you need it. It starts with how you manage your information coming in, then how you process it and how you store the information until you need to access it again. A personal organisation system is essential if you want to be able to make quick but effective decisions, which is what time management and productivity are all about.
Simplicity is one of the most important, yet rarely mentioned, aspects of time management. Simple time management requires that you set your systems in place for managing your time. When the systems are in place, you will be able to make quick, effective time management decisions which will enable you to make most of your time. Most time management systems fail because they are too complex whereas simple time management yields better results because it is constantly trying to make things easier.