6 Secrets of Time Management Mastery
By Rick Houcek
As a workshop and keynote speaker, strategic planning facilitator, and leadership trainer, I get asked all of the time…
“Rick, what’s the one thing I can do that will make me more successful?”
Well, bad news. It’s a foolhardy question.
Assuming that success can be boiled down to one big thing is just nonsense and wishful thinking. But, there is one category of behaviors that most drive success.
It’s all of the behaviors around how you manage your time. What you do and what you don’t do… what you require and what you won’t tolerate… all greatly determine your success in life.
Procrastination, for example, kills big ideas, ambitious goals, and anything you want badly.
It’s a rare individual who can stay focused and locked into a get-it-done-now mindset.
And those who can, are among the most successful and highest paid winners in our society.
So let me share with you 6 time management tactics you can use to beat procrastination and up your level of productivity.
- Use time blocking. List your tasks for the week – and do them, not just for the day, but for the whole week. And then put them into time blocks, day by day. What this does is keeps you from getting behind like planes stacking up on a runway. If you know, for example, that you can’t get behind on Monday because Tuesday-through-Friday are already planned, it helps you develop a discipline to stay on point.
- Allow no interruptions. That means no email. Don’t answer the ringing phone – never ever be a slave to your phone. No walk-in interruptions, so keep your door shut if you need to. Schedule all calls by appointment. I never answer the phone. I always pick up the voicemail later – and then I call back when I’m fully prepared – I’ve got my papers laid out and I can speak intelligently to any client who has called me. Usually it is within minutes, but sometimes, if I am traveling, it might be later. And also, tell your co-workers and family about your ‘no interruptions’ policy, so that your time is protected for you.
- Eat one bite at a time. Do you have a big project you’ve been putting off that seems daunting, ominous, or scary, that may take forever? Well, break it down into small pieces. Make a list of all the things that are components of the project and then plan them out in time sequence. How much time will each take, and allot it.
- For extremely big projects, spread out your time blocks over several days, or over several weeks or months.
I know of a friend who’s been trying to write a book, and he writes 2 hours every day – gets up early in the morning and from 7 to 9 is his 2 hours of writing time. Then he moves on to other things.
For most people, first thing in the morning is when you are most creative, but if for you, it’s midday or late at night, do whatever works for you. So break up a project, so you do it piecemeal, piece by piece, over several days, weeks, or months if you need to.
- Know your mission for the day or the week and your daily tasks required to accomplish it – and say no to everything else. Most of us are people pleasers. We end up saying yes to interruptions. We want people to like us. You have to be willing to say no politely, but say no. Protect your time. You never get it back.
- Put up signs in your office that inspire you. Signs like: “Never, Never, Never Quit.” I’ve got this up in my office: ”Focus, the ability to block out the unnecessary, puts the goal within reach.” Another sign says: “Today is a Money Day.” And a big one right in front of me says: ”I will not be stopped.” Keep signs in your office to remind you to stay focused, to not quit, and to not accept interruptions.
In summary, remember this – YOU control your time. Other people don’t. Email doesn’t. Your cell phone doesn’t. And Facebook and Twitter don’t.
If you’ll put these 6 time management secrets to work for you, you’ll enjoy greater success in business and life.
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