Start with priorities
When thinking about time the first thing to think about is PRIORITIES. We have plenty of time, but not enough to do all the things we want to do when we want to do them. We must therefore prioritise:
1 – decide what to do first
2 – decide the order to do the rest.
What is most important and needs to be done first?
What carries the greatest risks, the greatest dangers?
What will cost us the most if we delay?
Risk assessment and management
When deciding your priorities concentrate most on risks. What are the consequences of not doing a certain task by a certain date? Are the consequences large or small? Are the consequences irreversible? Is there a money element?
The magic of a simple list
I marvel at the power of listing. Once you have prioritised the things you need to do, the next thing is to list them in priority order. You can have as many lists as you want, but I would recommend:
a day list
a month list
a year list.
How you list is up to you. You can use a paper notebook, but I find it more convenient to use the app Trello which has a listing facility enabling me to tick off each job as it is completed. Items in a list can be moved up or down easily as their priority level changes.
Being a multi-facility, project management platform, Trello is great because I can store and easily access a wide range of items I may want to use as I work through my lists – items such as website links, photos, PDF documents and spreadsheets.
There is the chance to work with others on the app, to distribute and share tasks and to check when assignments are completed.
By the way, I have no connection to Trello – I just like the app. There are many other task mastering apps out there, such as: TaskRabbit, Swipes and Project Planning Pro.
Review your lists
One drawback with listing is that it is easy for it to fall by the wayside if you don’t have a regular system of checking your lists and making sure that tasks are actioned.
Trello has several ways of maintaining your engagement. The system can be set to generate reminders or notifications, ensuring that tasks are not overlooked and are completed on time.
Further, you can use your task management app in conjunction with your Outlook or other diary to set up a really comprehensive reminder system.
On a daily basis things change – so you may need to change the order in which you deal with items on your lists. AN ITEM MAY BECOME URGENT AND REQUIRE IMMEDIATE ACTION.
Taking account of changes is important, but it vital to stick as closely as possible to your original lists – challenging yourself to get tasks done by the listed time, resisting the temptation to put-off tasks to another day or time.
For me that is the secret of keeping on top of time management. You need to stick to your lists and timetabling. Put pressure on yourself to make sure that you do. AIM TO COMPLETE EVERY TASK ON TIME.
Sometimes that will mean sacrificing some much-loved activity you would prefer to do. You may need to go to bed later or wake up earlier to catch up on your tasks if you start to get behind.
So what’s the catch?
The process of preparing priority lists with a system of review and reminders seems simple enough. So why do so many of us struggle with time management – even after setting up a task management system such as mine? The answer is that there is a bit more to it than just setting up a system.
Task management apps with cool systems for organising and completing tasks are great. They make things more efficient, interesting and enjoyable compared to the pre-Internet age.
However, when the reminders and notifications come in, it is still easy to ignore them. The greatest time management system in the world is no good if you lack the mindset to effectively operate it.
To truly conquer time, you need to cultivate the mindset, the ongoing mental discipline, to keep the system going – day after day, year after year.
But that is a subject for another time…