Time Management Critical Component #1: Prioritise
The cornerstone of time management is prioritisation. Without understanding what is truly important, no matter how efficient you are, your work will be for naught. I love Steve Covey’s analogy about a team thrashing through a jungle, only for its leader to climb above the foliage and cry out “WRONG JUNGLE!”
Make sure your long-term and short-term goals are absolutely clear, and that your tasks contribute to their achievement. If there are tasks that do not, they must be disposed of or delayed. For everything else, rank them in order of importance, and use the 80/20 rule* to focus only on the activities of highest yield.
Time Management Critical Component #2: Focus
Once you have determined your goals and priorities, the next challenge is to focus on their achievement. We live in an age where distractions are abundant – emails, text messages, phone calls, well-meaning colleagues, and irrelevant websites all contribute to our inability to single-handle our tasks. The cost of having to constantly refocus is massive, so make sure you disable as many of these as you can to allow for uninterrupted work.
In addition, humans are poor multitaskers. We understand from scientific research that at best, we can do “task-switching,” which in itself impedes our efficiency and accuracy. I’m sure you can relate to having dozens of windows open on your computer desktop and feeling flustered with all the mental congestion! If this is the case, make sure you close as many windows as possible to remove distractions.
Time Management Critical Component #3: Live Healthily
This is probably one of the most overlooked areas in my research in time management. Without adequate sleep, nutrition, and exercise, our mental abilities simply diminish. Our mood, energy levels, and ability to think are all influenced. To be effective in managing our time, we need to be efficient in managing our bodies.
Another component to healthy living is in fostering healthy relationships. We understand in social intelligence that our connectedness with others has a profound effect on our emotional and physical wellbeing. Being successful at work at the cost of our relationships is detrimental to our long-term happiness and success. Work-life balance is not optional, so make sure you are spending quality time with your loved ones!
In order to manage our time effectively, we need to prioritise, focus, and live healthily. Though simple in concept, they require much conscious effort to implement. As a starting point, make it your priority to define your priorities today!
*A.k.a. “the Pareto principle.” In general, 80% of our results come from 20% of our work.
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