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Secrets to Making Time Work for You | Nan McKay

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I work most of the time and love it! I have a secret to getting things done that I am sharing with you. It works!

“Time management” is the process of organizing and planning how to divide your time between specific activities. Good time management enables you to work smarter – not harder – so that you get more done in less time, even when time is tight, and pressures are high.

We all have tasks to do in any business or endeavor. The question is how you approach those tasks. Tasks can be divided into three categories: Important and Urgent, Important, and Routine. These categories are offered referred to as A, B, and C priorities.

A priorities will lead to significant consequences if not done today. A priorities are often large in scope, and we sometimes put them off because we think we don’t have time to do them. An A priority might be to prepare a budget or a report for your boss or a major client. The answer to dealing with an A priority is to use the Swiss Cheese theory – take little bites out of it to move it along until the A project does not look overwhelming. For example, you could gather up last year’s budget and compare it to last year’s expenses. You could write a section of the report.

B priorities may have a mildly negative consequence if the activity is not completed today. A B priority could entail calling a customer about a complaint.

C priorities are routine, and no penalty will be assessed if the task is not completed today. These priorities are usually easy to do and fast. However, C priorities are usually more numerous than the A and B priorities. You can accomplish many C priorities in a day. You will feel like you really accomplished a lot because they were numerous. Concentrating on C priorities did not help you in the long run because, by doing those priorities, you neglected the A and B priorities which were more important.

You may utilize one more category, the D priority which includes those items which can be delegated to someone else.

Start either first thing in the morning or the night before. Make your To-Do List and then put an A, B, or C by the task on the list. I like to do it the night before because either I forget what I was going to put on the list or I feel I have to take extra time just to gather my thoughts. If I get up with a fresh to-do list and a plan of action, I can get into it faster.

Even if it means working on an A priority I don’t really want to work on. I have to ask myself why I don’t want to work on it, and it’s often because I don’t know where to start. Sometimes I let that A priority “lay on my brain” during the night. When I’m fresh in the morning, the task becomes clearer which means I look forward to starting it, rather than dreading it.

Does this ever happen to you? You are in bed with the A priority sitting beside you, and all of a sudden you come up with some ideas. What do you do? Do you say, “I’ll think about it in the morning,” or do you start alphabetizing words for the ideas you are trying to remember until morning?

I kept a pad of paper for those nights, but I didn’t want to wake Jim up so I could hardly read what I had written in the morning. Then I graduated to a pad of paper that lit up when I picked it up. Somewhere along the years, the pad disappeared. Now if more than three things are on the list, I get up and go to the computer and type it out. Then I usually can go back to sleep.

If you coordinate your A and B priorities with your energy cycle, you will find you are more productive. Only work on your C priorities during your low-energy time.

Time management is similar to the 80/20 theory. Focusing 20% of your efforts on the A priorities to create 80% results and matching that to your energy cycle will lead you to optimal performance and a better quality of life.

Part of time management is learning to say no when you know you should. Honestly, you can say no in a nice way such as, “I would love to do it, but I don’t have extra bandwidth right now.” If you don’t set your boundaries, other people will set them for you. Everyone will end up frustrated because you either do not get to the task they want you to perform or you do not do it well. If you know it is “too much,” say no. You are not saying no to the person. You are saying no to the task.

The bottom line is that we always wish we had more time. But, you know what? You have all the time there is. The issue is not having more time. Instead, it is figuring out how to use your time wisely. And then time will work for you.

 

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