Are you someone who treats others time with more respect than your own? If so, it might be important for you to start prioritizing your time in a similar manner.
I, for one, am a person who tends to fall into this trap. Appointments and time sensitive commitments set by others are often treated with a much higher respect by me than my own personal commitments. Because of this, I’ve been often called a prompt employee and a great friend who’d never flake. However, it’s hard for me to honor my own commitments in the same way when failing to complete them won’t affect others.
So how have I managed to still reach many of my goals in a timely manner? It’s somewhat simple. I schedule out my day, rather than simply creating a to-do list and hoping that it’ll get done. It can sometimes be hard to fit everything in to a busy schedule. But failing to schedule out tasks to-be-completed throughout your day does not solve the problem. Here’s how I do it:
1.) Write Out Your To-Do’s
Start by writing out your to-dos for the day. I typically start with my time sensitive commitments first (such as meetings or anything that has a deadline), and then add on my other, more flexible commitments. I limit myself to five or six commitments a day – two larger tasks that’ll such up 2-3 hours of time, and three or four smaller tasks that’ll only take me about an hour to complete.
2.) Create One Time-Based Schedule
Create a schedule that first schedules your tasks into time blocks. Nothing should overlap and definitely allow yourself a break in between each task or commitment. Start with scheduling any time-sensitive task (again, such as meetings, etc.), then fit in anything with more flexibility between or around your time-sensitive commitments. Make sure you give yourself enough time to complete the task with quality results, but not so much that you overthink every minute detail.
3.) Create A Second Schedule to Keep You On Track
If you have ever read Tim Ferriss’s book The Four Hour Workweek, you may be familiar with Parkinson’s Law. Parkinson’s Law basically states that we fill whatever amount of time we allow ourselves to complete a task. So if you give yourself fifteen hours to complete a task, you’ll likely find a way to fill those fifteen hours. If you are only allowed two hours, you’ll complete the task within two hours, no matter how crappy the result.
I tend to always run over the amount of time that I schedule myself for any task or commitment. Therefore, I schedule to compensate for this. To do so I have to make sure that the time I’m mentally giving myself is different than the time the rest of the rest of the world sees on my planner. In the worst case, I can take twice as long as I had originally scheduled to complete something. So to compensate, I have to give myself half the time that I schedule the deadline for to actually complete the task. This then forces me to focus on the most important aspects of the project, rather than fretting over minute details and inconsistencies along the way.
With some simple time management skills, you can be brought so much closer to your personal goals than you have ever imagined. The above technique is what has worked for me as of lately. It’s just part of why these past few months have been so accelerating as far as my career, personal life, and health!