Do you recognize yourself saying these words?
- I don’t have enough time!
- I wish I had just one hour more!
- It’s not easy to organize my time, something always comes up!
Guess what? Time is relative but it can’t bend or stop, so we all have 24hrs a day,
60 minutes and 60 seconds.
So let’s agree to not blame father time for doing a bad job, let’s look at how
we organize it…
With what you are going to read in this article, you will find simple and fast steps you can
take to become an expert in time management and help with your personal and career development.
Remember: each decision will depend on
you, but it won’t take more than 5 minutes to get organized before each day starts!
Here’s how that is possible!
Time Management 101
Let’s go back to basics. Time management is the actual management of events or one’s own
to-do lists or activities, so we can actually finish everything with desired results.
Meaning –successfully. So as we said before it is not about how much time we have in a day, because
we all have the same 24 hours per day to make it count, but it is rather on how we use that
time, that actually counts. As you are all a very smart bunch, we are here to help your brain
remember or even learn, to work smarter, faster and better.
It really isn’t as fancy as it sounds, it’s just knowing how to organize, plan, coordinate and
shape your time and your activities. Now, I know what you are all thinking, aren’t those the
same thing? NO and YES. But, some of these, actually include way more things, than just
simply performing these activities.
Organization for example actually includes more than that:
- Knowing what you want to achieve – GOALS
- Knowing how your strategy can help you – PLANS
- Knowing when to do something – PRIORITIES
So as you can see, organization includes, coordinating your time towards your schedule,
knowing how to plan your day, and recognizing what can be delegated and left for later.
Let’s Start With Your Goals
I’m sure you have all read a lot of things about goals and seen the popularity of making a
bucket list, or a dream board. But we are here to dig a little deeper than that.
We are here to explain the mentality and psychology behind *drum roll please*
not reaching them and
So take the time to brainstorm to why people actually give up on their goals, dreams and
desired destinations? Yeah, the road may be full of thorns, it may rain during the whole way,
it may be almost unreachable, but still, why do people just give up?
Because Goals Aren’t Set Right
There is a whole philosophy on how you can set goals to actually be successful. Yet, it is just
easier to ignore it all, try it anyway, and then be mad you actually failed when you didn’t
even want to give one simple technique a chance. So our advice, beautiful people, is: pay
attention, take a piece of paper and a pen, and write this down. What do you have to lose?
BHAG stands for Big Hairy Audacious Goal,
BHAG goals are obviously nearly impossible to achieve, so why are we even talking about
them? Well, as James and Jerry explain it in their book, BHAG is actually a game changer
when it comes to long term business goals and desires. But, in order to actually achieve it,
you have to constantly stay outside of your comfort zone and work hard by flirting with
arrogance and confidence, in order to come even close. On the other side, being so audacious
as it is, it needs to have a specific mindset that will help you maintain your focus and eyes on
the prize. Have in mind that the prize might come after 20 years, but still achieving it will feel
very damn pleasing. So, how can you conceptualize it?
- Take your time, nobody is saying you need to know and have one right now! It is going to take some time to even imagine, analyze and motivate yourself into. After all, it needs to have a time frame to when you plan to achieve it.
- Be ambitious, it will seem you aren’t there yet or ready to achieve it, but that is okay, you just have to be ready to work for it now outside of what you are used to.
- Be creative, make it fun, because this is a goal that will completely alter your life! This is the goal you will dedicate a decade or two into making and achieving, so if it doesn’t make your heart beat faster, just don’t do it.
Now after you actually have your BHAG in mind, go over a few bullet points to actually see that it is what you want to achieve and fix your time management, long way into the future. I suggest giving yourself a time frame of 10, 15 or 20 years. But also define it exactly, because moving your finish line after a 10-year race is going to drain you more than actually running the marathon.
Have in mind that along the way, you will need to have smaller goals you can see achievable before BHAG, so you can actually measure your process and progress. Also, it will give you the motivation to continue and productive juice you will need to keep going the distance.
S – Specific
M – Measurable
A – Achievable
R – Realistic
T – Time Oriented
The most commonly used tool to set goals is the SMART technique and here is why! This technique helps people organize their time better: it clarifies your ideas, makes you focus on what matters, raises your productivity and automatically clears the way for you to reach success.
Let’s start with the first letter of the acronym!
There isn’t much mystery to what this letter means, but most people don’t understand the part of how to define what is specific.
Start by asking yourself what you want to achieve.
Wrong specific goal: I want to be successful! (What does successful mean?) – Narrow it down!
Right specific goal: I want to become a writer. (It is clearly defined)
Wrong specific goal: I want to write more! (What does write more mean? 5x a week? 3x a week) – Simple it up! You also can’t make it too often because you will feel bad if you don’t stick to your plan!
Right specific goal: I will write 3x a week and I will write at least 1 chapter per week (It is simple, specific and achievable)
Having a measurable goal means you can track your process and see how you are progressing. Meeting your deadlines and seeing how much work you are getting done is going to help you stay focused and feel more productive with each check-up.
As we said with specific goals, you need the exact numbers in your progress. Take the previous example of wanting to write more.
How much are you going to write?
How are you going to track your process?
So when checking if your goal is measurable make sure you can track your process in your notebook, or diary with each day written in. If it helps, try making a table that is going to show each day and progress of each day. This is going to help you evaluate your motivation, your time management, your productivity and stay on track with your goal.
Monday, 21st of August 2017: Wrote for 1 hour, wrote 10 pages.
Thursday, 24th of August: Wrote for 2 hours, wrote 8 pages.
Saturday, 26th of August: Wrote for 2 hours, finished the chapter, etc.
In order to fix your time management and make your goal achievable, it needs to be within your possibilities. That actually means you need to be brutally honest with yourself in order to set this part of your goal. By doing this, it will help you remember all the previous goals that weren’t as close to your reach as you thought.
Unachievable: I want to write my whole book in one try. (Although it is achievable, it is mostly real that it is going to take some more attempts, efforts and resources than you think. So try and redefine it)
Achievable: I want to write a book I will be proud of. (Now this is a goal you can achieve, in order to write a book you will be proud of it may take a few tries, some editing but at the end, it can be achieved)
The title says it all. This goal has to be relevant, important and worthwhile to you. Otherwise, you will give up on it along the way and quit working on your time management. Start by asking yourself is this the right moment for this goal and are you ready to take it on. If the answers are yes, then dive right in. Here is the example to help you define it!
Wrong relevant goal: I am going to write a book after I get a promotion! (Is it really a good time for you to start your book, right after you got new and added activities at your work?)
Right relevant goal: I am going to start my book, now that I am on vacation! I will have time to focus on the storyline I imagined. (Pick your battles, it is important your goal has your attention!)
Every goal needs a deadline to focus on and something to work towards to. You will want to define when you want to achieve that goal. But again, try and be realistic about your time frame.
Wrong time-bound goal: I will write my book in 6 months. (Again, is this a real time frame you can achieve this goal in? If not, try giving yourself more time, just to avoid feeling bad when you pass the deadline)
Right time-bound goal: I will give myself a year and a half to write my book. (This is more realistic and better time oriented since you will probably need to do research on topics, develop characters and explore all the possibilities)
Now that we went through all of the letters of the acronym let’s try and define a goal that is based on the SMART technique.
¨I want to become a successful writer of a novel. I will start writing my book in a few days since I am going on vacation and I will have more time to concentrate on it. I will write at least 3x per week and one chapter per week knowing I can finish my book in a year and a half. In order to check how I am doing, I will journal my progress each day. ¨
How to Prioritize?
As all projects need priorities and what needs to be done first, here is how you can prioritize and fix your time management when everything feels like it is a priority:
- Write a list off all your chores and activities – anything you think you will do today
- Go over each item on that list and see just how important it is to be done
- Make a table to see which item gets most points and goes highest on the to-do list
- Be flexible and adaptable – there is no need to have a strict rule to what you have to do
Example: Experiment of Efficient time management
One day, an old professor of the School of Public Management in France, gave a lecture on the topic of “Efficient Time Management” in front of a group of 15 executive managers representing the largest, most successful companies in America. Thinking of what he can say to them, he took out an empty jar alongside with rocks with the size of a tennis ball. Later, he filled that jar with all those rock until the top and asked those 15 executive managers if the jar was full?
Each of them said it was. To their surprise, the professor then continued. He took out a bag of pebbles which he used to put in the jar, slipping them next to the big rocks. Without hesitation, the managers saw the jar wasn’t yet full when he asked again, so they quickly said it had more space.
The professor continued to take out a bag of sand on the table and poured it over the pebbles and the rocks in the jar. Without hesitation, again the managers answered the jar wasn’t yet full and still had room. And as was expected by the students, the professor reached for the pitcher of water that was on the table and poured water in the jar until it was absolutely full.
When asked about the point of the experiment the managers thought it was about how their schedules can always be filled with more activities, which was wrong. The point they learned that day was that: if he had waited to put the larger stones later, he never would have fit them in a jar! He then continued to talk to them about what were the ¨large stones¨ a.k.a. the priorities in their lives and about the importance of them.
Eisenhower’s Urgent/Important Principle teaches us a valuable lesson in time management and how to properly make our to-do list. Time stressors are some of the most pervasive sources of pressure in the workplace and university for students and they happen as a result of having too much to do, in too little time.
Now that we went over plans, strategies, and priorities, this technique helps you think about your priorities, and determine which of your activities are important and which are, essentially, distractions in need of letting go.
As the matrix says, you have 4 fields in which you can use to write down your activities each day, or week (depending on how many things you have to get done).
Urgent/Important (this case yellow field)
There are two distinct types of urgent and important activities: ones that you could not have foreseen, and others that you’ve left until the last minute.
Important activities have an outcome that leads to us achieving our goals, whether these are professional or personal, but have also very high meaning to us and can’t be postponed.
Urgent activities demand immediate attention. They are often the ones we concentrate on because they demand attention since the consequences of not dealing with them are immediate.
You have a meeting with your boss, which is an activity you need to attend and is important, and it will evaluate your work performance.
Important / Not urgent (the field that says Plan it)
These are the activities that help you achieve your personal and professional goals and complete important work. Since this field doesn’t require urgent work, you can take the time to plan your goals and activities.
You will need to plan those activities, so they don’t turn into urgent. As this is a flexible matrix and you use it to plan your own time and chores, you need to pay attention and identify the activities accordingly.
Your sister’s birthday is a month away and you wanted to buy her something special. It is important but you still have some time to plan what you want to get her.
Urgent/ Not important (the field that says Delegate)
Urgent but not important tasks are things those that prevent you from fixing your time management. So a good thing they offer is a chance to reschedule or delegate to a member of your team as it is time-consuming and needs to be done straight away, but you lack the motivation to do them.
This field in the matrix is #1 on learning how to say ¨NO¨ accordingly and without feeling guilty after as this field is mostly connected to other people and their needs instead of your own.
Not urgent/Not important
These activities are time-consuming and a distraction – try avoiding them. If you just thought: ¨But they still need to be done¨, then think about if they maybe belong in some other field.
There are several reasons why it helps you fix time management, whether you work for yourself or for an organization. Knowing how to say no to tasks that consume your time or to delegate tasks that are just not necessary on your to-do list, is one of the crucial skills you can have. These techniques are your first-aid tools to help you get started with fixing your time management! We would very much like to hear from you about your BHAG goals, SMART goals and see your Urgent/Important Matrix to help you more closely on defining your goals! Feel free to send them via contact form and we will continue to be in touch!