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Monday, June 1, 2009

Top 5 Time Management Do’s and Don’ts

Are you looking for ways to make the most of your summer? How about ways to set aside study time after returning to school in the Fall? Here is an article we found useful for managing the fleeting luxury of time!

How many times have you sat down to review your e-mail and then looked up at the clock to see that you’d lost a valuable hour? It’s easy to say that you need to both prioritize your time and narrow your focus, but it’s not an easy task.

There is any number of time-management systems out there, but sometimes you need to step back and look at the basics. Dr. Don Wetmore, who heads the Productivity Institute, offers the following perspective on the right—and wrong—ways to approach time management.

Top Five Best Time-Management Practices

  1. Plan an hour per day for “me time”—Give 23 hours to the world but keep one hour for yourself. During this hour, add a new dimension to your life that isn’t there now because you didn’t feel you had the time for it. Read a book, take up a hobby, learn a foreign language, develop computer skills, start another business, spend time on health development, etc.
  2. Establish a regular reading program—It can be just 15 minutes a day. Even with that small investment, the average person will read 15 books in a year. Also, consider taking a speed reading course. You can double your reading rate and comprehension and read twice as much in the same time period.
  3. Overload your days—Build a daily action plan that includes not only the things you “have to do,” but the things you “want to do.” If we give ourselves one thing to do during the day, it will take us all day. If we give ourselves two things to do during the day, we get them both done. If we give ourselves 12 things to do, we may not get 12 done, but we may get eight done. Having a lot to do in a day creates a healthy sense of pressure on us to get focused and get it done.
  4. Prioritize your list of “things to do”—Some of our tasks are “crucial” and some of our tasks are “not crucial.” We have a tendency to gravitate to the “not crucial” items because they are typically quicker, more fun and easier to do.Tackle your items in the order of importance, doing the most important items first.
  5. Radiate a genuine, positive attitude—Often, like attracts like and it repels the opposite. When you are in a negative mood, you tend to repel the positive people who don’t want to be drained and brought down by your negativity. And, when you’re in a negative mood, you have a natural system set up to attract the other negative people to you who want to share their stories of their misery, so the two of you can compare experiences to decide who has the worse life. Positive people help to bring us up. Negative people bring us down.

Top Five Time-Management Mistakes

  1. Start your day without a plan of action—You will begin your day by responding to the loudest voice (the squeaky wheel gets the grease) and spend it in a defensive mode, responding to other people’s and events’ demands. If there is a void of leadership in your time-management life, someone will fill that void—not that others are bad people, but others will take all of your time if you let them.
  2. Get out of balance in your life—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. But if in the long run, we spend a sufficient quantity and quality of time in each area, our lives will be in balance.
  3. Work with a messy desk or work area—Studies have shown that the person who works with a messy desk spends, on average, one-and-a-half hours per day looking for things or being distracted by things. That’s seven-and-a-half hours per week. And it’s not a solid block of an hour and a half, but a minute here and a minute there.
  4. Don’t get enough sleep—Studies show that nearly 75% of us complain on a regular basis that we are flat-out tired. For most people, they get the quantity of sleep, but they lack the quality of sleep. Their days are filled with so much stress, they are out of control, working harder but maybe not smarter, that it’s difficult to get a full night’s sleep. (Some simply do not allow for a sufficient quantity of sleep.) If you plan your day, then work your plan, you will get more done, feel a higher sense of accomplishment, and experience less stress and enjoy a more restful night’s sleep.
  5. Don’t take a lunch break—Many do not take a lunch break, working through that time in the hope that it will give them more time to produce results. Studies have shown it may work just the opposite. After doing what we do for several hours, we start to “dull out.” Sure, we can work through lunch and be productive, but that’s not the issue. The issue is “how much more” productive we can be. A lunch break, even a short 15-minute one, gives us a chance to get our batteries charged to more effectively handle the afternoon’s challenges.

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