Tried and Tested Time Management

A few months back I was listening to a speaker on time management. As he gave very simple and practical tips I saw worldly wise Directors and Executives making more notes than I had seen them making during any of our speaker sessions for a very long time.

The surprise for me wasn’t that they were hungry for help with managing their information overload, ways to balance their lives more effectively or techniques to plan ahead in order to be more productive, but that they weren’t already familiar with these quick tools and techniques.

I know that for some people, having any amount of tools and tips will not be effective until they also address their mind set, including their values and beliefs. But for others it‘s a case of trying lots of different strategies and seeing what works best for them.

Over the years I’ve found a few simple things that work well for me and I use them consistently without even thinking. For example:

  • Each morning I ask myself…if I could only achieve one thing today what would it be? If I could only achieve one more thing what would it be? And so on until I have 3 things. I do the same process at the beginning of the week and the beginning of the month. It makes sure I focus on important things that don’t have a deadline.
  • Just get the file out. This comes from Mark Forster. When I am putting something off, I tell myself, I’ll just get the file out, or just read the spec or whatever the smallest first step is. If I do that and don’t want to do anymore that’s okay. Although invariably I end up saying something like, now I will just make a few notes etc.
  • A “done list!” Much more satisfying than a “to do list” especially for those days when I am doing bits and bats and it feels like I’m not making progress.
  • Schedule important and not urgent tasks into my calendar and commit to them as if they are my most important client. This includes things like self-care, and time with the children as well as work projects. Covey’s “Big rocks!”
  • Ask yourself. Does this task need doing at all? Does it need doing now? Does it need me to do it?

What are your favourite tips, tools and techniques for managing yourself and your time? Whether it’s about managing your emails, planning your day, using technology well, or getting over procrastination, I would love to hear them and will compile them into a free e-book that everyone can use.

11 Responses to Tried and Tested Time Management

  • Great tips Julie. I think your first tip is crucial. Being really clear on what the most important use of your time is at any given moment is one that helps every leader because it may not be a big thing to you, but it’s a big thing to someone else.

  • Love this Julie – it’s often too easy to become an ‘activity junkie’ – and not jumping to respond to every email as soon as it hits our ‘in’ box is a good tip and helps productivity. Love the ‘power of three’ – a fantastic entrepreneur also reinforced the importance of constantly keeping your end goals in sight – and to stop doing activities which detract from that!

    • Thanks for your response Sharon. Glad you liked it. I don’t know if we are thinking of the same person but it reminds me of a tip to stop and ask ourselves “how is what I’m doing right now, moving me towards my goals?”

  • This is great! I’m starting my “done list” today. Never thought of that, but will relieve some of the stress on the days you don’t “feel” like you got anything done and then from that “done list” you can further build….

    Committing to non-urgent but important tasks is crucial. Making yourself push every urgent task aside no matter how much it hurts and making time to focus on the long-term fruit. I think this can make or break a company or your individual growth.

    Helpful sharing, Julie.

  • That was a great read. It’s hard to know where to begin, half of the time. I’ll save this and refer to it. I also like Laura’s three Ds + 1 idea.

  • I like this. Will start doing this surely it must work. Thanks

  • Great practical tips! Here’s mine: When I’m running in frantic mode, pause whatever I’m doing and take a few slow breaths. And take a look outside, at the sky, if I’m someplace where I can do that. Helps me back up from the immediate and reconnect with the big picture.

    • Good reminder Janet. I will do that the next time I find myself brushing my teeth with one hand while brushing my hair with the other! One of a number of indicators for me that I need to pause. 🙂

  • These are great tips! I wholeheartedly agree about the mindset, and have used some of these ideas myself, although I don’t think I ever articulated them before.

    Your last point reminds me of the three D’s: Delete, defer, and delegate. I often add in a fourth D: Delight! (Where can I get some delight in my days and weeks?)

    I’m also a fan of writing down a super-short, simple task on my to-do list (or even one I’ve already done, like “make list”) so that I can cross it off immediately. When I share this idea, people always laugh, but a few usually agree. It’s satisfying and builds momentum!

    Thanks for writing this!
    Laura Poole, ACC

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