Contrary to popular belief, effective time management is not based on doing more things in less time. That’s just not going to happen. Time management is about doing the right things better. That’s why first and most important skill you need to learn is to correctly identify tasks that require your full and complete attention from little tasks that can wait. Before planning your daily routine and choosing what needs to be done on that particular day, ask yourself two questions:
Question #1: Is it what I need to be doing today?
Question #2: Do I want to do it?
After that everything is simple. If your answer is “No” to both questions, you are just wasting your time. Stop doing it right now! People, who practiced “want/need” questions, were amazed by how often they caught themselves doing things that they couldn’t justify doing on any grounds. For example, if you spend 30 minutes mowing your lawn but can’t stand doing it, STOP!
Find someone who will do it for you and concentrate instead on the more important tasks. Your time is money. It is even more precious, because if you don’t have enough money, you can borrow some, but you can’t say, “Hey, I’m forty years old and I would like to get some extra time, because I’ve just now realized, what I would like to do with my life”. Once it’s gone, it’s gone.
Stop looking for it. You ARE living it. You decide every day to live it in certain ways, not the others. From the time management perspective, your life is a sequence of big and small choices and decisions. It is those choices that you really manage, not the flow of time. That’s why making your decision consciously is the key element in time management. You will notice right away that these simple “need/want” questions will make a tremendous difference in the way you live.
Note, that even though the first question is more important than the last one, you should not cut the things that are neither important nor urgent but simply fun. I, for example, enjoy reading mystery novels. At first I tried to justify them by telling myself that I’m expanding my vocabulary or releasing stress, but in the back of my mind I still felt guilty. I don’t anymore, because I stopped lying to myself. I’m reading my mystery novels just because they are fun for me. That’s enough. But if I have something important I need to get done, I can postpone reading for the next day.