How to manage your time effectively?

Time management is all about making you as efficient as possible, helping you get as much done in as little time as possible. Either freeing you to do more work or spend time with your family.

But from all the techniques and methods, the one that encapsulates them all and can maximise their benefit is using a calender.

Depending on what literature you read you will be told to plan by the day, week or month. You should set your goals by the year, by 5 years or by 10 years. You have probably learned dozens of different systems and techniques.

It all gets very confusing, what is right?

Whatever works for you, works!
This is the first point I want to make. It doesn’t matter if you set your goal 1, 2 or 5 years in the future. What is important is that it is motivating to you.

It doesn’t matter if you plan by the day, week or month. As long as it makes you more efficient and helps you relax.

I have found that planning by the week and organizing by the day works best for me.

Planning by the week
I start by listing everything that I know will need to be done during the week (this can be saved as the basic week looks pretty much the same), then I plan it out. What do I do Monday, what Tuesday and so on.

I have a basic plan for what I do each day and can from there organize it to make me as efficient as possible.

Organizing by the day
When I start the day I know exactly what needs to be done.
I go through and prioritize that list. Listing what I do first, what second and so on. Never do I plan by the hour or minute though, because you never know how long time things will take. Especially human interaction is impossible to time. Sometimes a meeting will take an hour sometimes 3.

Therefore I list the tasks in order of importance and get to work, getting rid of one at a time.

Living out of your calender
Once you have added all the basic tasks and start working during the day, a lot of new tasks will appear. People will come asking for favours, your boss will ask for an extra report or just something trivial like a phone call.

Don’t let these things ruin your efficiency and structure. I use my calender to solve these problems.

When someone asks me to do something I wasn’t expecting, I add it to my calender. I usually have a decent amount of spare time (I have planned it that way so that I can take care of the urgent) and can plan what day or how high on my list of priorities I put the item.

Being Efficient
Once you know what needs to be done, in what order and what you need to do if something unexpected arises. You can start being truly efficient. Pick up the first, most important tasks get rid of all the distractions you can and get to work. Work on the task single mindedly until it is complete. Then pick up task number 2.

Action Exercise
1. Make a weekly plan – list everything you do in a week and organize it over the course of the week.
2. Buy a calender – If you don’t have a pocket calender, get one or use the one on your cell.

Being efficient isn’t really about techniques. It is about you and your motivation. If you are motivated you will be efficient. But the techniques help. Planning weekly, orginizing daily and reacting with your calender will make efficiency a lot easier.