Time Management Tip Number 5 – if you haven’t read the earlier chapters, take a moment to go back and read the first 4 parts…they are all essential ingredients to your success!
Let’s start by imagining there were 26 hours in a day, not 24, how would you feel? How different would your life and business results be if you just had an extra 2 hours a day?
Well, let’s be honest, you could have an extra 2 hours a day if you really made the effort. Did you know that 1 hour of planning will save 10 hours of doing? Learning how to plan your time effectively will save you hours a week, ‘effectively’ being the key word here.
You have your prioritized to-do list with clear deadlines, time estimates, right? Before you open your calendar/schedule, ask yourself, ‘how much of my time is structured and how much isn’t?’ In other words, how much time can I realistically plan?
Some jobs will have more routine tasks and are more structured and other jobs just aren’t. Get realistic on how much you can actually plan. Over planning is just as bad as failing to plan.
How can you ensure that you are planning effectively? Here are a few golden rules.
Golden Rule 1
Don’t plan more than 75% (on average) of your time, this applies to more structured work of course. You need to leave time for unforeseen crises, things that come up, etc.
If you don’t leave some gaps in your schedule, you won’t be able to get everything done and you will always be rescheduling your agenda and you will feel disillusioned with planning.
Golden Rule 2
Plan different activities depending on how your energy levels change throughout the day. If you know that when you come into work in the morning, you have a lot of energy and you can focus very easily, plan a task that is mentally challenging for this time.
If you start to lose energy and focus around 12pm, plan to make your phone calls or check your emails at this time. When you know that your energy starts to dwindle, plan the menial tasks for this time.
Be aware of your energy levels and monitor how they change over a few days, then keep this in mind when you plan. There really is no point in planning to do something when you are feeling your lowest.
Golden Rule 3
Once you have included your routine tasks in your schedule, include other tasks from your priority list. Most of your time should be spent on tasks that you have categorized as important and urgent and also, tasks which are not urgent, but important.
With the remaining time you can schedule other tasks to fill the gaps or less important tasks to be done when you have the least energy. Remember the one minute rule, if you can do something in 1 minute, do it, get it off the list.
Golden Rule 4
When planning try to batch similar activities together. For example, if you need to run a few errands, try to schedule them all together so you save time commuting. If you need to make a few phone calls, plan a time to do all of them together if possible, or checking email.
Golden Rule 5
Set deadlines a day before if possible. If you can do this, it is a great way to ensure you meet deadlines and to keep your stress levels down if an emergency arises.
Golden Rule 6
Planning is about being flexible as well, your schedule is a tool to guide you in using your time as effectively as possible to meet your goals. It is not set in stone and you need to be realistic as well and adjust when necessary.
Sometimes you need to change and swop things around in your schedule, don’t think of this as something negative, be flexible, adjust and keep moving forward.
Lastly, review every week what is working with your planning and what isn’t. If you are not completing your tasks as planned, perhaps you are underestimating your time. If you keep putting off certain tasks, you might need to explore the procrastination behind this.
Be aware of what is working and what isn’t and continually make an effort to change what isn’t.
Remember, failing to plan is planning to fail – Alan Lakein
You can do this, am I right?
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To Your Success