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- Every day begins with making a to-do list.
- Priorities should be set.
- There are special ways to avoid being interrupted.
- Effective rest is needed.
- Setting clear objectives leads to great results.
- It is necessary to learn how to say no.
- It will be a failure without a realistic plan.
For me it’s important that I know what my short-term and long-term goals are — this will enable me to differentiate between what’s important and what’s not. It’s only when I know where I want to go and what I want to achieve that I can figure out exactly what needs to be done, and in what order. Once I am clear about my goals, I can plan and prepare a sequence of action steps to achieve them.
I start my day by spending five to ten minutes planning my activities for the day — or, better still, prepare my list for the evening, too. I write out my tasks either on paper or on my computer. I break down large or complex tasks into smaller pieces — I chunk them down into do-able, manageable units that don’t feel too big or daunting, and focus on one at a time. As I complete my tasks, I cross them off — it’s a very satisfying feeling!
There’s a good chance I won’t get everything on my to-do list done, but I make sure I get the most important things done. That means I have to prioritise the tasks on my list and figure out what is actually most important, as well as most urgent (not necessarily the same thing). It’s helpful to number my tasks or assign them ABC status by giving the most important tasks an ‘A’, the next most important ones a ‘B’, and so on.
Using my to-do list and prioritisation as a base, I make a schedule for the day and for the week, including time for breaks and contingencies. The schedule needs to be realistic, with padding for interruptions and unscheduled events. How much contingency time I need to build in will depend on the nature of my work. Having a schedule means I won’t have to waste time and energy thinking about what I have to do next — I just follow my schedule.
For many, emails and phone calls constitute the single biggest obstacle to effective time management. Unless I need to be constantly available and accessible, I avoid continuous email notification and let my phone go to voice mail — these things can suck up untold minutes and hours, and make me repeatedly lose focus. I need to give myself solid chunks of time to concentrate on my work.
I guess breaks will keep my mind fresh and I will be able to return to my work with better focus. If I work straight through, I will put in more hours but work less productively. I prefer to stick to allotted break times. I might want to try the specific technique to see if it increases my productivity. In this time management technique, I work in 25-minute segments with 5-minute breaks between each period.