Have you noticed the world is busier these days? With each flip of the calendar, seemingly there is more to do and less time to do it. If you are like most in the business world, you are struggling with keeping up. How does one finish all the tasks they need to finish each day and still have a life? How do you get it all done, sleep and not burn out? Is there a way to get quality family time anymore?
Take a deep breath. In the next few minutes, I’m going to help unlock the keys to crushing time management. Yes, I will be giving back your freedom as I share with you my five simple yet powerful tips. Below I describe the art of balancing tasks, and teach how you can have a well rounded and fulfilling lifestyle.
Step 1: Prioritize Your To Do List
Everyone has a list of things they need or want to do in a given day. Some people wing it in their head but to keep on track, you must always write it down. I prefer to do it on an actual piece of paper, written in pen, to help solidify the tasks. I write out the list without regard for order, the first thing I write, usually is not the most important.
Once I write the list, I take a moment to reflect on each. Sometimes I scratch an item off if the list seems too daunting, but most of the time, I’m merely figuring out what is the most important thing I need to do. That will be number 1 on the list. I move through the items from most important to least, putting a number next to each. There are times when I cannot work on the most critical task, (number one) first.
Could be an appointment, there might be others involved, or perhaps I’m waiting on someone to deliver a component first. Whatever the case may be, I always start with the lowest number that I can as I begin my day. Once I complete the lowest number, I move to the next lowest number available. I will stop mid-task if a lower priority number opens up.
My goal is always to finish the highest priority tasks. Some days, many in fact, I don’t complete the entire list. No matter and I sleep fine. The reason I sleep so well is that I know for certain at the end of each day, I finished the most important things. There will always be something to do tomorrow and a new list will be created to tackle.
Step 2: Running a Block Schedule
Block schedules are periods allotted to specific tasks. You can use them on daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and yearly time periods. They help to keep you focused and can keep you from wasting large periods. I recommend you make block schedules for each of the periods above as part of a goal setting strategy. Hitting the mark is much easier when you know what you are aiming for.
Is family time a priority, or going to church or reading? If you block in times as part of your grand schedule, you will have time to accomplish these tasks when building out the rest of your calendar.
How does block scheduling coincide with the priority list described above?
The priority list and the block schedule are both predicated on your have to and want to prioritize. You may be over-ambitious at times when setting blocks. Undoubtedly you will have in any period blocks that have to be rearranged to compensate for life’s surprises. Always stick to your priorities, and at the end of each block, you will have finished the most important tasks.
The blocks are just as helpful as the daily task assignment, and the one-two combination will help you get far more done each day than you might have ever imagined possible. Stick to this strategy as if your life depends on it. You will notice a huge difference in a short period.
Step 3: Know the Down and Distance
What is good enough on a task? No matter how much you work on a project, if you continue to fine tune, won’t it be better? If not all the time, in most cases that is true, more time equates to better results. In life, however, precision isn’t always required or necessary and as a result, can be a time waster. To borrow from a football term, to be successful, you must know the down and distance to the goal.
Some things in life require fine strokes, and the utmost in accuracy, such as surgery, target shooting, engineering a bridge. With other tasks, broad strokes are fine. You might just be estimating, rounding, walking through, or working on a first draft. When you work on a task, know when to go all in, and when to give it a good once over.
By assessing what the situation calls for and applying the right amount of precision, you can save time you might have overspent working on an important task to complete, that only needed broad stroke precision. Please note that the ranking on your daily task assignment bears no weight to if the job requires precision or rough edges.
Some of the lesser ranked tasks might take the most precision in your day, even larger chunks of time to complete. The task ranking, the amount of overall accuracy and time needed are three separate components on the list.
Step 4: Use Your Tools Wisely
We live in a world full of tools. From television to tablets, our world is full of with devices intended to help us in some form or fashion. Many of us have mastered the art of entertainment. Every device seems to come with a form of mind-numbing activity to pass time. Ironically most people complain they don’t have enough time in the day but spend time frivolously with a device.
The cell phone is the single biggest curse and blessing to have ever been invented. Why? You have the whole world at your fingertips, 24/7/365. Unfortunately many can’t stay focused when their phone is beeping or vibrating.
To combat this, you should adjust your notification settings. This simple step has made a considerable improvement to my daily efficiency. I don’t need to keep up with social media in real time. Most people can and should turn off many of the app’s notifications.
Utilizing apps and electronic devices wisely can help you finish tasks faster. For example, my car has Bluetooth built into it. I can make not only my phone calls, but also text and email clients.
Further, I can get “Alexa” to perform internet searches for me. The CRM program I used to have to fill out at the end of each day in my office is now done remotely via app. I type the notes in on my phone, which helps me do it faster, while the data is fresh in my mind. As a side benefit, I can many times finish the day closer to my house, reducing my commute time. Find ways to use your technology and the apps on them to streamline your daily activities.
Step 5: Make Time for You
The world is becoming less humanistic. Don’t become a victim of your environment. When filling out your time blocks and writing out your priority lists; don’t forget that you need time for yourself. I am a happily married father of eight children. The reason I’m happily married is that I learned how to set aside time for my family.
I eat dinner with my family virtually every evening. Occasionally business takes me out of town or traffic is horrendous and I’m late, but that is an exception, not the rule. For the most part, at dinnertime, I am at the table. It wasn’t always like that, but I learned. You show people where they rank in your life, with the time you give them. Money isn’t the most important thing, because it’s not a fixed quantity. Time, however, stops for no one. We all have the same limited time in a day. Make the most of it. Give it to those that matter the most.
In my time allotment blocks, I schedule a time to eat with my family, read, sleep and work on #ProjectHelpYouGrow. In my monthly blocks, I include time to date my wife, take my kids on activities and visit friends/extended family. Quarterly and Yearly I plan for outings, vacation, conferences and special events.
These activities help me to recharge my battery, communicate my affection for others and ward off depression. When time is all said and done, how we spent our time will determine our legacy. I don’t want my legacy to be just about how hard I worked. Ira Bowman loves his family, his community and I hope when they tell my story; that is included. What gets scheduled gets done. Please plan wisely and make time for yourself, your family and your friends.
A Better Life Awaits
If you implement the five steps discussed above, you will not regret it. I am willing to bet that your life will dramatically improve and your level of happiness will increase. Many people are filled with unnecessary anxiety and stress because they manage their time poorly. You can drastically improve your performance at work, make your family happier and develop your overall confidence.
Remember to do these things:
- Prioritize your to-do list running a block schedule
Know the down and distance
Use your tools wisely and make time for you
You can have better life experiences, accomplish more and improve your self-esteem. The key to it all is how you manage your time. Don’t lose sight of what is essential. Eliminate unnecessary distractions.
Use your tools to the fullest and don’t forget to build in time for yourself.