"Why are you late?" asked the shop supervisor, as Dusty walked into the shop. "I had to run alongside my bike all the way to work" replied Dusty, huffing and puffing from the exertion. "Why didn't you ride your bike to work?" asked the shop supervisor, incredulously. "Because," Dusty explained, "I was so late I didn't have time to stop and get on my bike."
This exaggerated story helps to make an important point. There never seems to be enough time in the day to complete all of the tasks that need to be done. We may have fallen into the same trap as Dusty. In our rush to accomplish everything, we haven't stopped to see if we can organize our day for greater effectiveness.
Reorganizing our use of time will help us accomplish more and decrease stress in our lives. Let's look at some suggestions that have helped many people. Who knows? Maybe after reading this article you'll get home in time for dinner!
The first and most important step is to make a plan. When you wake up in the morning, no doubt your head is swimming with all the things that need to get done that day. Grab a pad of paper and pencil and make a "To Do List." As new things pop up add them to your list. When things are completed, cross them off your list. At first glance, your list may look a little daunting. You may be thinking, "I'll never finish everything today." That's OK. You've taken the first step to better time management.
The next step is prioritizing your list. Number your list, starting with what you feel to be most important and continue down to the least important. Then begin to work on them in the order you set. It is more important to complete one task properly than to rush and complete all the tasks on your list. You are now in control. One seldom reaches the bottom of a To Do List. Making the most effective use of your time is your goal.
As you are working through your list you may come across something that you could delegate to someone else. You may find the last thing on your list today may be your No. 1 priority tomorrow. Your priorities will be changing with your circumstances. This is unavoidable. Remain flexible and be willing to renumber priorities as needed.
Michael LeBoeuf, a professor of time management at the University of New Orleans observed, "Important things are seldom urgent and urgent things are seldom important. The urgency of fixing a flat tire when you are late for an appointment is much greater than remembering to pay your auto insurance premium, but its importance (the tire) is, in most cases, relatively small."
Some people find the 80/20 rule helpful when setting priorities. This principle was originally formulated by the 19th-century Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto. It states that only about 20 percent of the causes produce about 80 percent of the results. In simple terms, imagine that your To Do List contains 10 items. Performing just two (or 20 percent) of your tasks may accomplish 80 percent of your objectives for the day. The two most important tasks may yield more benefits than the other eight put together. Evaluating which things on your list have the biggest impact and doing them first will give the most results in the least amount of time.
Being in control of your time doesn't mean becoming preoccupied with being busy every waking moment. It means selecting the right task at the right time and doing it.