Saturday, 26 July 2014

Getting the Important Things Done

By Harold Taylor

By now everyone has heard the standard answer to "How do I get all the important things done?" The pat answer is "Take them off your to do list and schedule time for them in your planner." And most people do accept the fact that "To Do" lists are for the things we intend to do; but scheduled blocks of time in our planner are for the things we are committed to do.

But even scheduling important tasks and activities in our planners as though they were appointments for life-saving surgery does not guarantee they will get done. Because they are not scheduled appointments with the surgeon and they are usually not life-threatening. So when something urgent pops out of nowhere demanding our time, that important goal-related activity frequently gets delayed.

There are no guarantees in life. And there is no panacea for ensuring that the important things get done first. After all, we are only human. Regardless of what time management experts may tell you, we all struggle with procrastination to varying degrees. At times we all fall victim to the tyranny of the urgent. And in my 35 years as a time management consultant, I have never met a person with the degree of commitment, focus, self-discipline and cool self-centeredness necessary to ignore the pleas of someone requesting their time. And I hope I never do.

The truth of the matter is that people are more important than projects, and relationships are more important than deadlines.

But there are things you can do, after you have scheduled the priorities in your planner, that will increase the odds of getting them done. Here are a few strategies that I have found helpful.

Schedule priorities early in the day. The demands on your time usually increase as the day progresses. If you are a "lark" or "early bird" and your energy level is at its peak early in the day, this habit is a plus. Choose times when distractions are at a minimum. Similarly, schedule the most important tasks early in the week. The week tends to get busier as it progresses.

Schedule the priorities in ink. If you use a paper planner, that is. There is something tentative about penciled in appointments. And there is nothing concrete about electronic notations either. Do what works for you; but don't make your scheduled commitments too easy to change.

Do first things first. You have already scheduled your priorities in your planner and it's important that you work on these before looking for more. Ignore your in-basket, e-mail, voice mail messages and text messages until after your first scheduled activity. The rest of the day may not go according to schedule; but in most cases you can at least start the day off right. Even one hour per day on the priorities is more valuable than five hours per day on routine and trivial tasks.

Respect your own time. If you would not cancel an appointment with someone else at the last minute out of respect for them, then give yourself the same consideration. Stick to those appointments with yourself wherever possible. Have as much respect for your own time as you have for others. Resist the urge to delay your own projects simply because they can be delayed.

When your schedule appointments with yourself to complete a task, always schedule more time than you think the task will take. Regardless of your self-disciplined nature and your ability to focus, there will be interruptions whether they are in the form of people, mental blocks or other ideas popping into your mind. Allowing time for these contingencies will relieve stress and keep you on target. My general rule is to allow 50 percent more time than I think the task will take. Or in the case of an ongoing project, such as writing a book, 50% more time than I would have to spend in order to keep on target.

Regardless of how well you plan, things seldom go the way you anticipate. That's okay. You'll be a lot more productive than if you didn't plan at all, and simply relied on "To Do" lists. Just as a manager is an exceptional decision-maker if he or she is right 80% of the time, so is a person an exceptional time manager if 80% of the day goes according to plan.

About The Author
Harold Taylor's website

Harold Taylor has been speaking, writing and conducting training programs on the topic of effective time management for over 30 years. He has written 16 books, including the Canadian bestseller, Making Time Work For You. He has developed over 50 time management products that have sold in 38 countries around the world.

The author invites you to visit:

Article Source:

No comments :

Post a Comment