Dear M & M: One thing I never seem to have enough of is time. How can I manage what I have to be more effective? – Joan
“Time is the most valuable coin in your life. You and you alone will determine how that coin will be spent. Be careful that you do not let other people spend it for you.” ― Carl Sandburg. There are plenty of time management studies, advice and ideas out there. Benjamin Franklin also said, “If you want something done, ask a busy person.” Get ready to toss out the window what you are doing to manage time if it’s not working.
If everything in the time department is working for you do not change anything. Here are five simple rules to follow. Remember, before you get started on these five steps the best thing to do is to take a look at what you are doing that seems to be the biggest waste of your time and simply stop doing it. Ready? Rule number one; know how to say no. We all are busy.
A busy person can get things done, but realize you can’t do everything for everyone. It is hard to turn down good ideas. Better to turn something down than add something to your plate that you can’t finish. Don’t take a bite out of that elephant unless you plan on eating the part you agreed on. Rule number two: Finish what you can as it comes in. Don’t get in the habit of putting things aside and finding the time to go back and finish them later.
You will find later never comes. You are adding to that pile of I’ll get to it later. Finish requests, as they come in take care of as many as you can immediately and move on to the next thing. When answering emails, knock out quick responses and referrals, start working on tasks. Schedule the bigger tasks. Get rid of or delete the stuff that is informational or not important. Make sure that completion pile is higher than that get to later stack.
Stop being busy and start being effective. Rule number three: Be cautious of people, organizations and meetings that are wasting your time. We all know what I am talking about here. Do not waste time that you know is going to be unproductive. Is that meeting really necessary, does that person get things done, is this an organization that can help me accomplish what I need to do or does it take away time that I could be doing something productive?
Rule number four: Delegate, find the right people that can help. You can’t do this by yourself. We all know with the right group we can get more accomplished. Do not be afraid to ask for help, make sure you are asking the right people (see rule three). Remember you don’t need to be the lone wolf every time. Finally, rule number five, the last rule: “There are two kinds of people, those who do the work and those who take the credit.
Try to be in the first group; there is less competition there.”-Indira Gandhi. I understand I said five rules, but another general guideline to keep in mind, if I would have spent more time this wouldn’t have been so long.