Powerful time management strategy: Use an agenda
Do you use an agenda? If not, you’re missing out a simple but powerful time management tool to make your day more efficient and productive.
If you’re like most people, you have a to do list for work. Some people list the tasks by letter with item “A” being most important, item “B” next, and so on. Others use numbers, and in descending order of importance.
One drawback to this approach is that it doesn’t commit you to tackling or at least starting each project. Reviewing the list, you instinctively tell yourself that projects A, B, and C are important (and in that order), but do you actually spend time on each?
Or, do you start on A, but fail to devote any time to the other projects? How often do you find yourself spending most of your day on your most important task, but then neglect all the others?
The solution? Create and agenda. It is one of the more powerful time management strategies you can use. Much like you do for a meeting or conference, set an agenda for your day. Doing so will compel you to spend at least some time on each project. And as a result, you will manage your time better and enjoy a more productive day.
A sample daily agenda may look something like this:
8:00 – 9:15: Project A
9:30 – 11:00: Project B
11:15 – Noon: Meeting
The afternoon is broken down in a similar manner.
Why is this method effective? Because it forces you to concentrate a certain amount of time on each project. For example, you set aside one hour and 15 minutes for project A. At 9:15, regardless of how far along you are, you stop and move on. As noted, you’ll begin project B at 9:30.
Notice the breaks built into the agenda. These aren’t for you to go stand around the coffee pot.
Realizing that you need to check e-mail and phone messages on occasion, you set aside time for that as well. That way you won’t waste valuable time throughout your day checking for messages, which many people tend to do about every five minutes (at least for e-mail). Of course, you can also use those slots for restroom breaks and other necessary duties away from your desk.
For this process to be effective, you must cut out distractors. In addition to closing your email program, set your phone to voice mail, and log out of Facebook and other, unnecessary websites. You must wean yourself off the desire to stay on top of posts. Focus on the tasks that can lead to income.
You may wonder whether, as in this example, one hour and 15 minutes are enough for a given project. Perhaps not. So your afternoon agenda schedules more time for that. The key is to budget time–and that is literally what you are doing, budgeting time–for each project. By forcing yourself to spend some time on each project, and committing to a set schedule, you will find that accomplish more tasks sooner.
Whereas now you typically attack one project only after completing another, with this program you can work on multiple tasks throughout the day. You become more productive as you make more efficient use of your day. Start using an agenda tomorrow. You will quickly realize how powerful this time management technique is.
For related reading, see Review your professional life to improve satisfaction, performance and How to be more productive in 3 easy steps.
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