“Routine is not organization any more than paralysis is order,” said Sir Arthur Helps, an English historian and author. Organization involves much more than doing things. Our routines must be driven by purpose if we want greater productivity and success.
It’s one thing to own organizational tools such as a calendar or a day planner list – it’s another thing to actually use them. Your time management habits – or lack of habits – determine your productivity.
Consider these tips to help start your day and launch your efforts into a positive and productive direction:
Begin the day with quiet reflection. Allow time to sit in the stillness of silence to focus on a goal, positive affirmation, or optimistic thought. Whether you start the day with prayer, meditation, or positive thought, quiet reflection time allows you to clear your mind of racing thoughts and take on the day with a focused mindset.
Review your goals for the day. Are your goals aligned with your most important priorities? The Oxford Dictionary defines procrastination as “postponement; often with the sense of deferring though indecision, when early action would have been preferable” or “without good reason.” Try to schedule tasks aligned with your most important priorities as early in the day as possible.
Check (or create) your schedule. Review the important events on your schedule. Jot them down on a Post-It note or store the information on your Smartphone, iPad, or device where the information is readily available.
Make a “To-Do” List – and Stick to It. There are many tools (including Evernote and Todoist) that allow you to simplify and tackle important tasks throughout the day. Allow ample time to complete each task so you don’t have to rush between projects.
Identify Your 3 Most Important Tasks. Write down your top three tasks to complete today. “Think on paper,” adds Brian Tracy. “Every minute you spend in planning can save you five or ten minutes in execution.”
- Allow time at the beginning and the end of every day to check email. Email can bury us. Scan and delete unnecessary ads and information. I allow 15 minutes at the end and beginning of every day to check email.
- Build in time to communicate with others. Create a regular plan to respond to phone calls. Like email, I check messages and respond to phone calls at the beginning and end of every day. I respond to telephone calls throughout the day, but I do not allow phone calls to interrupt meetings and conversations with others.
Move Forward – Once you develop your plan, commit to moving forward. It is one thing to notice a distraction; it’s another to allow them to interrupt your day. Stay focused.
Time management “is really life management,” explains Brian Tracy, author of Eat That Frog! Practical management of your time includes taking responsibility of your choices. Tracy insists that your ability to distinguish between important and trivial tasks “is the key determinant of your success in life and work.”
It is a good idea to periodically examine how you choose to spend your time. Ask yourself:
- Are the tasks and activities in my schedule aligned with my goals?
- What areas promote my success?
- In what areas am I wasting time?
- What areas need my attention?
Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, maintained, “The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” Use a whiteboard or bulletin board to visually post your weekly, monthly, and annual goals. Refer to your board as a daily reminder of your most important priorities. Allow your priorities to drive your decisions.
Zig Ziglar, author of Born to Win, added, “You were born to win, but to be a winner, you must plan to win, prepare to win, and expect to win.” When you make deliberate choices, you exercise your personal power and steer your life in the direction you want to go.
What are your most important priorities? What will you do today that will help you accomplish your goals?
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