Time and Priorities Management: How do you handle it?
Some time ago, a friend gave us a very inspiring gift, the book Let the Elephants Run, by David Usher, Montreal-based musician, author, and activist. Among other topics brilliantly covered in this work, David writes about time, and making time for what really counts in our life.
It’s definitely not easy. How many articles about time management and priority setting have we seen out there? There are enough to get lost. But David is right, better management of our time means more freedom and more happiness. Most agree on a few key actions that can help us reach this goal. Here is a short list.
1. Managing your life well means using the right tools
It’s important not to get lost by using too many different tool to organize ourselves: Post-It notes everywhere, countless “to-do lists,” applications for each of your projects… no, thank you! Try to focus on a single ideal tool – the one that lets you keep track of all your activities at a glance.
2. Rituals to incorporate in your agenda
Planning can be the solution to many problems. By incorporating certain rituals into your agenda, you’ll succeed at saving time and focusing on the basics.
To start your day off right, try sitting down with your pencil and paper and take stock of your goals for the day. Make a list of all the tasks to be carried out and highlight the three most important ones. Operating with three identified priorities from the start will help you schedule.
Each night, summarize all your accomplishments and what is left to do for the next day, if necessary.
The most organized people even apply this ritual to their weeks, with a summary on Friday, so that they’re ready to begin again on Monday.
3. Manage your agenda well
There are a few things you can do to make your agenda a real business partner. For example, use it not only to schedule appointments, but also tasks. These tasks should become part of your schedule and, in a sense, meetings with yourself. That way, they’ll be well integrated into your day.
4. Exercise discipline
If there’s one thing that’s difficult, it’s discipline! To make sure you’re not frittering away too much time on your Facebook Newsfeed, it’s important to impose some quiet working hours without internet access. By setting aside some time each morning to deal with the most important tasks of the day, you’ll make sure you don’t lose track of your priorities.
5. Provide a “buffer” for unexpected events
Unexpected events happen every day. So that they don’t become overwhelming, it’s necessary to give yourself, right from the start, blocks of free time dedicated to these emergencies. You can start by setting aside an hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon. If they aren’t used, that “buffer” will give you more time for your other tasks.
6. Set limits and learn how to say “no”
Finally, it’s essential to learn how to set limits. Not only with regard to the tasks that you’ve planned, by setting a time limit for each one, but also by learning to say “no.” If accepting a meeting or taking a call will slow you down, then ignore it. Knowing how to say “no” will save you more time than you think!