Do you know the fact about time management? No matter how you slice it, there are only 24 hours a day. Time is a limited resource, and it's up to you how you make the most of it. In simple terms, if you lose money, you may be able to get it back, but the 30 minutes wasted is irreplaceable.
While we can't add hours to our days, we can manage the time we have. Time management is a skill that everyone should know. It affects performance and productivity, whether at work or at home.
When we can't manage our time, many things can't be achieved. For example, getting a dream job, completing a project, getting enough sleep or quality time with loved ones.
Yep, time is a finite resource, so good time management is key to it all. So, let's discuss the three critical points of time management: prioritising, organising and setting goals.
The Importance of Time Management
Time management is the process of planning and using time spent daily. When you don't have the skills, you will miss deadlines, produce low-quality work, and feel more stress. On the other hand, if you can manage your time well, your productivity and work quality will increase, and you will complete tasks on time.
Three pillars make this successful from all the time management tips and tricks: prioritising, organising and setting goals. Without prioritising and organising, you will be confused about which activities to do first. Meanwhile, without setting goals, you will not know whether you are progressing towards your goals, stuck or experiencing a decline. You can maximise the three cores of time management in the ways below!
Relationship between prioritising and organising
According to the Cambridge dictionary, priority is deciding which of a group of things is most important so you can tackle it first. While organising is doing or arranging something according to a specific system.
Prioritising involves organising important and unimportant tasks so you can complete them on time. Priority is essential because it allows you to pay more attention and focus on important tasks. However, prioritising should not miss low-priority projects.
5 steps to prioritise and organise your tasks
When tasks pile up, you need a clear system for keeping stress under control. Well, here are five ways to prioritise and organise your projects and activities:
1. Capture everything on a Master List, then break it down by monthly, weekly and daily goals.
It's impossible to prioritise tasks if everything is spinning around in your head. For the first step, start by setting everything in the Master list. Think of the master list as a brain dump.
The master list can be made of anything as long as it is easy to access and update when new priorities arise. Once you've created a master list, you'll notice that some tasks require different levels of attention. Some you have to complete today, next week and this month. Through the master list, start organising and prioritising tasks with month, week and day goals.
2. Separate the urgent from the important with Eisenhower Matrix
A master list does help prioritise all tasks, but it can be complicated when deciding what to do now or later. One of the best techniques for determining this priority is the Eisenhower Matrix.
In this matrix, there are four quadrants for mapping and prioritising tasks. Mapping is divided into how important and urgent the task is.
- Urgent and important: do the task as soon as possible.
- Important, but not urgent: schedule to get it done.
- Urgent, but not important: delegate tasks to others.
- Not urgent and not important: remove tasks from the plan.
3. Rank your daily tasks by their true priority with the Ivy Lee Method
Sometimes, despite your best efforts at mapping out tasks, you end up with urgent tasks that come on suddenly. One of the best ways to deal with this is the Ivy Lee Method. This method forces you to do a maximum of six tasks per day.
4. Separate tasks with similar priorities using the ABCD method
While Ivy Lee's method is great for mapping and prioritising, there is still a blurry part: how to know the importance of a task?
Then we need Brian Tracy's ABCDE. This method offers two or more levels for each task. Then, how does it work?
- Check the list, then give each activity from A to E. A is the highest priority.
- For each assignment with an A grade, assign a number to determine the order of the assignments.
- Repeat until all tasks have their letters and numbers.
5. Set a productive tone for the day by Eating the Frog
After mapping out the tasks, now is the critical moment, namely execution. Starting the day sets the tone for the rest of the day. That's why some productivity experts spend time on the most important tasks in the morning. You can call it, Eat the Frog.
When you complete the most important tasks at the beginning of the day, the rest of your day will be enjoyable. Small wins will keep you motivated to complete the rest of the day.
The to-do list you compiled above will be useless if you don't have goals. Setting goals at the beginning is essential so your to-do list stays on track. Simply put, goals provide focus. The decisions and implementation in your to-do list will bring you closer to achieving that goal.
5 steps to set your goals
Unfortunately, some people may fail to set goals. In the end, their to-do list fell apart and resulted in failed time management. Let's apply these five simple steps to set goals.
1. Think about the result you want to see
Before setting a target, look closely at what you want to achieve. Ask yourself some of these questions:
- Is this the goal you really want?
- Is it important enough to put hours and effort into it?
2. Create SMART goals
Make sure the goals you create include SMART criteria: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound. SMART makes it easy to track whether you are closer to your goals or further away. An example of a specific goal is to lose 10 kg by December 25.
3. Write your goals down
Write down your goals to make them real, not just some vague idea you have in mind. After writing, save it in a place you pass by every day. It can be in the mirror, bathroom, dining table or even above the bed.
The purpose of this tactic is to remind you to keep working hard towards the goals you have written down. Don't forget to use a positive tone when writing so you're still excited to finish it.
4. Create a timeline and execute
A goal without a timeline is a waste. You will find yourself procrastinating. Create a reasonable timeline, and provide a step-by-step to-do list on each timeline according to the priority rules.
After planning, it's time to execute. Don't do what you have planned in vain without action. Every step you take should lead to another until you reach your goal.
5. Evaluate and assess your progress
Schedule a weekly evaluation. The goal is to measure progress and check your to-do lists. During the review, you will see how close the finish line is to you. Evaluation will keep you motivated till the end.
You also can check the evaluation of your progress with a project management tool using VirtualSpace. It has project board feature that allows you to see the progress of your work.
Three critical points in time management are prioritising, organising and setting goals. When you do these three things, you are one step better in time management. But remember always to be realistic and allow yourself to rest.