Managing your time is not a one-size-fits-all proposition.  In fact, you can’t manage time at all. All you can do is manage yourself and how you choose to use time and interact with others. Once you have set specific goals for your business and life, ask yourself what new attitudes and habits you have to develop to help you accomplish those things.  You may need to cultivate the habit of planning each day, delegating, or saying “No”, etc.

Effective use of time is consistent with the 80/20 principle……twenty-percent of our activities produce eighty-percent of our results.  Unfortunately, too many of us spend the bulk of our time on non-productive and wasteful endeavors.  What are the critical tasks in your job, those tasks that will yield the results required of your position in the company and are consistent with the goals of your department and organization?  Without goals and a clearly defined sense of what activities will produce the results you’re wanting, you will have no way of determining the priorities.  Consequently, you may find yourself working hard and long hours, but not producing the results you desire.  You have confused effort with achievement.  Put the focus back on results.

Make a list of the top five to six activities you perform, in order of priority, that are critical to the success of your job.  These would be the dollar productive tasks or behaviors that will give you the biggest bang towards accomplishing your goals.  If you’re a sales professional they would include: planning; prospecting; presentations; closing sales activities; etc.  If you’re the owner of a company, they would include planning; communicating; setting goals, strategy, and direction (leadership); managing to goals; creating a motivational environment; etc.  You get the point.

Notice, however, that “planning” is showing up as the number one priority regardless of your position in the company.  When you know what you want to accomplish, and the steps to get you there, you can plan each day to do only those tasks that will take you closer to your goals.  You will develop your “To Do List” around the actions towards your goals…..for both business and personal.

Oh yeah?” you say, “Well, there’s no point in my planning because it just goes out the window when I have to fight fires and deal with crises.  Planning is just a waste of my time.” 

And my response would be, “I would venture to say, you’re doing it to yourself and let me prove it.”