by Dr. Donald E. Wetmore
Article provided courtesy of MediaPeak, http://mediapeak.com
We all have "too much to do." As a professional speaker, I hear that all the time from my audiences. And that says a lot of good things about you, if you have "too much to do" because, obviously, a lot of people have entrusted many things to your care and have confidence in you.
Every priority claims itself as the most urgent and crucial thing in the world screaming for your immediate attention. The problem is, we can only do one thing at a time. So, here are four nifty ideas to help you to Manage Multiple Priorities.
1. Keep the Focus on Personal Balance First. Our lives are made up of Seven Vital Areas: Health, Family, Financial, Intellectual, Social, Professional, and Spiritual. We will not necessarily spend time every day in each area or equal amounts of time in each area. But, if, in the long run, we spend a sufficient quantity and quality of time in each area, our lives will be in balance. But if we neglect any one area, never mind two or three, we will eventually sabotage our success. Much like a table, if one leg is longer than the rest, it will make the entire table wobbly. If we don't take time for health, our family life and social life are hurt. If our financial area is out of balance, we will not be able to focus adequately on our professional goals, etc. As in the medical profession, it is said that you cannot be sick and make other people well. In Time Management, then, we have to keep ourselves healthy first, in balance first, or it won't matter how many or how important our priorities are . . . we will not be able to properly handle them.
2. Schedule Daily Planning. I set aside at least 30 minutes each night for Daily Planning, a time to have a Board of Directors meeting in the most important corporation in the world: Me, Inc. I make up a list of things for the next day that includes not only all the items I "have to" do, but, more importantly, the items I "want to" do. Putting it all down in writing is vital because if you want to manage it, you have to measure it. This will tend to overload your next day, which is useful because it permits us to take advantage of Parkinson's Law, which says, in part, that a project tends to take as long as the time allocated for it. If you give yourself one thing to do, it will take all day to do it. If you give yourself three things to do, you get them all done. If you give yourself twelve things to do, you may not get all twelve done, but may well accomplish nine. Having a lot to do, being a bit overloaded, creates a healthy sense of pressure on us to get through our list.
3. Review Each Item and Ask, "Is This the Best Use of My Time?" There is a lot of difference between "I do it" and "It gets done." Which is more important? "It gets done." Sure, it's great to accomplish things ourselves but we only have 168 hours per week to accomplish results. (And if we take away 56 hours per week for sleep, that only leaves 112 hours!) So, each night during Daily Planning, I review each item on my list and ask, "Is this the best use of my time?" If it is, I will plan to work on it and if it is not, I will try to find a way to delegate it to someone so that it gets
4. Prioritize the List. Typically, our "To Do" lists will contain "crucial" and "not crucial" items. Some items will be more important, some not so important. Typically, the "not crucial" items are quicker and often more fun than the "crucial" items, which tend to take longer and are generally less fun. So what happens for many is that without prioritizing our list, we have a tendency to do the "not crucial" items first, substituting the quantity for the quality. Identify the most important "crucial" item on your list, the one you would want to tackle if you could only work on one item tomorrow and then label that as "#1". Next, identify the second item you would work on, if time permits, and label that as "#2". Continue prioritizing the entire list in that fashion and tomorrow start with #1.
These four steps will help you to more effectively Manage Multiple Priorities and increase your daily results.
If these ideas were helpful, we have prepared an additional article entitled, "The Time Management Myth" to help increase your daily success. It's free. If you would like a copy, email your request for "myth" to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Would you like to receive free Timely Time Management Tips on a regular basis to increase your personal productivity and get more out of every day? Sign up now for our free "TIMELY TIME MANAGEMENT TIPS". Just go to: http://www.topica.com/lists/timemanagement and select "subscribe." We welcome you to our list!
About the Author: Dr. Donald E. Wetmore, Professional Speaker
Productivity Institute, Time Management Seminars
60 Huntington St., P.O. Box 2126, Shelton, CT 06484
(800) 969-3773, (203) 929-9902, Fax: (203) 929-8151
Time Management Supersite: http://www.balancetime.com
By Harvey Mackay
(ARA) - I'll never forget an important time management lesson I learned in a seminar many years ago . . . especially how the instructor illustrated the point. "Okay, time for a quiz," he said, as he pulled out a one-gallon wide-mouthed mason jar and set it on the desk in front of him. Then he produced about a dozen fist-sized rocks and carefully placed them, one at a time, into the jar. When the jar was filled to the top and no more rocks would fit inside, he asked, "Is the jar full?" Everyone in the seminar said, "Yes." Then he said, "Really?"
He reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of gravel. Then he dumped some gravel in and shook the jar. This caused pieces of gravel to work themselves down into the spaces between the big rocks. Then he asked the group again, "Is the jar full?" By this time the class was onto him. "Probably not," we answered.
"Good!" he replied as he reached under the table and brought out a bucket of sand. He started dumping the sand in and it went into all the spaces left between the rocks and the gravel. Once more he asked the question, "Is this jar full?" "No!" the class shouted.
Once again he said, "Good!" Then he grabbed a pitcher of water and began to pour it in until the jar was filled to the brim. Then he looked up at the class and asked, "What is the point of this illustration?"
One eager beaver raised his hand and said, "The point is, no matter how full your schedule is, if you really try hard, you can always fit some things into it." "No," the instructor replied. "The point is if you don't put the big rocks in first, you'll never get them in at all."
So, today, tonight, or in the morning when you are reflecting on this story, ask yourself: What are the 'big rocks' in my life or business? Then, be sure to put those in your jar first. And by the way, you get the same size jar as everyone else. No exceptions. What changes from person to person is the size of each rock. I've got a couple boulders in my jar: family first, always. Things like friends, my company, my speaking/writing "hobby," maintaining my network, my volunteer commitments, my health, and my religion all take up a lot of space. The gravel is all the stuff that takes up more than a few minutes but doesn't necessarily happen every day, like a committee assignment, a vacation, learning new software ... you get the idea.
And now, the sand. You can decide whether to be that 98-pound weakling who gets sand kicked at him, or the creator of a spectacular sand castle. The sand is the yes/no stuff that absolutely has to fit around everything else after it's in the jar. A little piece of sand in your eye is a big pain, and those are the ones that get the no-thank-you right off the bat. A little sand on an icy street is one of life's little pleasures when you live in snow country as I do. You choose the sand. It's your jar.
In other words, it's your time. Change the rocks, gravel and sand into hours, minutes and seconds. Then decide what your priorities are and how much time you'll spend on them. If you don't, someone else will decide for you and you'll end up with a jar full of heavy, jagged, nasty shards that nobody could touch without getting stabbed by another rock. Do you really want to spend your time working on other people's priorities?
As Benjamin Franklin said, "If we take care of the minutes, the years will take care of themselves." Good time management is taking care of the things that matter most to us first and keeping that jar of rocks in sight all the time. My friend Lou Holtz has a great formula: W.I.N. -- What's Important Now? Use some of your precious time to figure out what's important in your life and you will win.
Mackay's Moral: Hey, even Superman had to work around the Kryptonite. So can you.
By Dr. Donald E. Wetmore
Article courtesy of MediaPeak, http://mediapeak.com
Procrastination is one of the biggest enemies we have to our Personal Productivity. Thinking about doing something and planning to do it are fine, but what if we fail to move ahead?
Procrastinating the unimportant items in our day is a useful talent. The problem for many, however, is that we are procrastinating the important and crucial items in our day, reducing our personal productivity and increasing our stress levels.
Here are five pointers to help you to better overcome procrastination. (You can implement them now or perhaps tomorrow . . . or better yet, next week.)
1. Daily Planning the Night Before. "People don't plan to fail but they sometimes fail to plan." Without a plan of action in place before you arrive for work it is easy to get caught up in "stuff". The phone rings, someone drops by, and you direct your time responding to the loudest voices demanding your attention rather than to the most important priorities on your plate. A plan of action prepared the night before is like a roadmap for the next day. You know what your next step ought to be to get you into productive action and away from procrastination.
2. Work With a Clean Desk. "Out of sight, out of mind." The reverse of that is just as true. When it's in sight, it's in mind and most of us cannot help but be distracted and our time is then directed to the less important and easier tasks causing us to put off the more important tasks. Working with a clean desk or clean work environment permits us to have only the most important task before us so that we can focus all of our attention on that task without other visual distractions.
3. Reduce Large Projects to Bite-Sized Pieces. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Tomorrow you plan to work on a three-hour project. The problem is, many of us do not get three hours to work on any one item. We have to contend with interruptions, meetings, etc. (I don't know that I even have an attention span that lasts for three hours!) And we often wind up procrastinating working on this task because "there's not enough time to get this done". So, instead of scheduling the entire three-hour project for tomorrow, schedule a small bite, a step or two that might take 20 or 30 minutes. Then put the next step on the next day's To Do list and the next step after that on that next day's list, etc. It may take several days, but you will get that elephant eaten up, one bite at a time.
4. Plan Around Interruptions. Interruptions tend to occur in identifiable patterns. I get most of my interruptions early in the day versus later in the day. I get most of my interruptions early in the week versus later in the week. So, if I plan a big project first thing Monday morning, I'm creating stress because as soon as I begin, interruptions arrive and re-focus my attention, causing me to procrastinate what I really wanted to do. It is so much easier swimming downstream with the current rather than bucking the tide. Therefore, I plan those larger projects for later in the day and later in the week when I tend to get fewer interruptions.
5. Assign Deadlines. Have you ever failed to achieve a New Year's resolution? If so, that probably happened because you did not set a deadline. Deadlines move us to action. Without a deadline, things wind up in our "as soon as possible" pile, a "Never Never Land" where items will get attended to "someday", "when I get the time". Create a deadline and you will be moved to action.
About the Author:
Don Wetmore is a full-time Professional Speaker who has made over 2,000 presentations to audiences from all around the world. His presentations are funny, entertaining, and filled with practical, common sense ideas and tools to help his audiences achieve more in less time and with less stress. He can present programs from one hour up to three full days. If you would like Don to help your organization increase personal productivity and have fun doing it, give him a call now directly at: (203) 929-9902. (And don't put it off!)
Would you like to receive free Timely Time Management Tips via email on a regular basis to increase your personal productivity and get more out of every day? Sign up now for your free "TIMELYTIME MANAGEMENT TIPS". Just go to: http://www.topica.com/lists/timemanagement and select "subscribe". We welcome you aboard!