There are a lot of time management systems out there. But have you ever been able to apply one for good?
Maybe not and I can’t blame you for this. The thing with time management systems is that each are suited for some type people but not for all. Simply because we are all different, no time management system works for everyone.
So my preference goes with building up your own time management system.
What should be the ingredients of your time management system?
- Incorporate your vision to your system. Build your goals based on this vision, so you can use it as an anchor when things get more uncertain. Use the vision and the goals when you need to prioritize tasks. Ask yourself: Is this action make me progress towards my objectives?
- Identify a prioritization technique that works for you and your context. You might not prioritize the same way if you frequently have urgent issues or if you build a software or a training for your clients.
- Take advantage of your energy cycles. We have different rhythms. A good criteria to organize your time is to look at when you are the most energized during a day and schedule activities accordingly. The ideal is to schedule the most complex tasks when you are at your best. Introverts will also want to save rest time, alone, after collective work, for example.
- Decide and schedule rest, before anything else. You certainly don’t want to burn out. Scheduling rest and breaks is a commitment to take care of yourself, the same way you can be committed to your work. Breaks and restful moments can also be used as a reward system. As they are in your calendar, you know you will get rest after some time working. Take advantage of it.
- Put all your tasks in your calendar. Your brain doesn’t like the unknown: if all your tasks are scheduled, it will make its life easier and you will less likely derail. The good thing is that, once all your tasks are in, you can throw your to-do list.
Take your time management system to the next level
It’s one thing to have all your tasks and rest in your calendar, it’s another story when it’s time to take action. Sometimes we procrastinate, sometimes we get distracted.
What can you do to beat this?
Defeat distractions by putting away all your devices like phone, etc. Anything like notifications popping are (unvoluntary) interruptions. The best is to remove them from your sight. If you need to check them regularly, make it deliberately and save a few slots for this during your day.
Be clear on your boundaries with others if you enter a focus time. Put yourself in “Do not disturb” or flight mode. Make it clear you can’t be disturbed and will be available later.
Reduce procrastination by working on your emotional awareness. Identify what triggers negative feelings like doubt, confusion or fear. Tune into your vision to remind yourself why you have scheduled this task.
Sometimes we must do the stuff we don’t like. Remind yourself why this is important. A reward system might be a good option here. Another option is to eat the frog first thing and then move on what you like to do.
Multitasking can also be an obstacle to a good time management. I explained why here. There is a myth that we can multitask. In reality the human brain is not designed for it. It just keeps switching from a task to another. And it takes your brain 25% more time to finish a task, when you do several things at a time. A few ways to avoid this, is to commit to stay focused doing meetings and calls for example. You can also vary the size of the tasks and make sure you do them one after another.
Be clear with your boundaries and apply them. This implies you are at ease to say no or to negotiate a compromise.
For the most unpredictable schedules: plan for the unexpected. Keep slots in your calendar for last minute requests or urgencies. If nothing urgent, use this time to move on your tasks.