The top five time management practices are often considered the best techniques by those using them and most recommended by the experts. Check out the five actions suggested below to create a time management system to best fits personal need.
1. Create a daily “To Do” list. This is always the number one suggestion of time management experts, business leaders, and others who are good at managing their time. Having a list of necessary and nice-to-do tasks focuses thoughts on the work so that nothing important gets neglected. It allows the list-maker the opportunity to plan their day. Keeping the list always handy makes it easy to add new items as they come up and check-off completed items. Reviewing the checked-off tasks can help motivate the user to continue completing tasks and feel a great sense of accomplishment at the end of the day.
2. Write down appointments. Write-it-down is another axiom of time management experts, not only for the “to do” list but for the appointment calendar as well. Writing appointments on a calendar when they are made frees the mind for other creative things. It also helps to prevent forgetting the meeting or appointment in the future. It should become a regular practice to review the calendar the beginning of each day to make sure nothing is missed. In checking the appointments, a decision can be made to attend, send a substitute, or try to reschedule if necessary.
3. Determine work priorities. Determining what work is important to do each day and what can be put off until another time is another key to improved time management. A high priority task or appointment would relate to an important project, something that may lead to advancement, or a promise due to another. Low priority to do list items are those that are nice-to-do but are not necessary right away or it might be requested attendance at a meeting where personal input is not required. Medium priority would be regular work tasks or standard team meetings.
4. Set alarms. Those who find they are often late to meetings or forget other types of appointments, find that setting alarm on a watch, computer, or phone works very well as a reminder. Set the alarm at least ten minutes in advance of the appointment start time so necessary data can be gathered and to allow for walking to the meeting room. If the appointment is not in the same building, then set the alarm out further to allow for travel time. Some people even reset their alarm when they are at a meeting for 10 minutes before the meeting should end to insure appropriate time for meeting wrap-up and to still get out on time.
5. Break-up large projects. Many people find they procrastinate starting large projects because it seems like too much to do or too hard to accomplish. To make it easier to start on a large project, break it into several sub-tasks. Then plan to add different sub-tasks onto the daily “to do” lists working backwards from the due date in the order tasks should be accomplished. This way each sub-task becomes part of the scheduled work and the project gets completed on-time. Some experts refer to this simple project management process as “the Swiss-cheese method” since it is poking holes in the bigger cheese (project) until all is gone (tasks done).
From the five suggestions above, create a personal time management system that fits individual needs. Be sure to consider these top five time management practices in the future to improve techniques being used and recommend those found effective to others.
NOTE: To review personal time management system, visit the author’s website for a free Time Management Self-Evaluation from the book “TAPP Steps in Time Management.”