What are your favorite dos and don’ts for successful time management? I asked this question to a wonderful group of productivity, organizing, and coaching colleagues (Jill Farmer, Laurene Livesey Park, Stacey Vulakh, Janet Barclay, Ellen Delap, Juliet Landau-Pope, Sheila Delson, Yota Schneider, Jane Perdue). Their responses are insightful practical, and doable. My gratitude goes to each of them for making time to reflect and share. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your lack of time or ability to manage it, I encourage you to keep reading and try some of these terrific time management strategies.
What are your favorite dos and don’ts for successful time management? . . .
1. Do Mindset Shift. Don’t ...
“Take a deep breath and recognize there IS enough time. Telling yourself there's not enough time throws you into ‘flight or flight’ mode, where it's really hard to focus and prioritize. Launching your action from that frenzied not enough space costs you LOTS of time. Instead, tap into the 3 C's—being calm, clear and connected. That's where you're going to be most efficient and productive, getting more done in less time while avoiding depletion and burnout. This mindset shift from lack based thinking to harvesting abundance will help you recapture enormous chunks of time.”
Jill Farmer – Author, Master Certified Coach & Speaker
2. Do Switch Gears. Don’t ...
“Do allow yourself time to ‘switch gears’ between activities. Take a short walk if you’ve been sitting at your desk for a couple of hours, and you’ll find you come back to the next task refreshed and more productive.
Don’t forget to include travel time to and from activities, and don’t assume that you’ll hit all green lights and no traffic jams! In my experience, many chronically late people employ some kind of magical thinking that includes teleporting from one location to another in the blink of an eye. This is obviously not realistic!”
Laurene Livesey Park, CPO-CD® – Professional Organizer, Speaker & Author
3. Do Prepare Next. Don’t ...
“Do schedule regular strategic planning sessions with yourself. Schedule time (ideally at the end of each day and week) to plan and prepare for what's coming up next. It takes less than 10 minutes to scan your calendar and devise a strategy.
For example, is your off-site meeting near the dry cleaner? Bring your dirty laundry. Heading to the doctor? Meet a colleague for coffee 30 minutes beforehand and then write thank you notes (or simply relax with a magazine) while in the waiting room.
Don’t say 'yes'. Time is finite and the quickest (and simplest) way to have more time is to say, 'Let me get back to you' when asked to do something. Then, take a moment to think about the request and assess whether it’s in line with your priorities.”
Stacey Vulakh – Time & Productivity Expert
4. Do Schedule Tasks. Don’t...
“My favorite ‘do’ is to move each actionable email I receive out of my inbox and into my task management system with a due date.
My favorite ‘don’t’ is downloading new messages throughout the day. I’m still working on this one!”
Janet Barclay – Virtual Assistant
5. Do Assess Priorities. Don’t...
“We are all busy and have so many opportunities each day. First assess priorities. Does a commitment truly give you a personal or professional return on investment? It sounds so simple but this is so hard to carry out. Once committed, stay committed and use your planner to keep up to date on tasks and deadlines. Plan a weekly time to review what’s coming up and write this planning time in as well. The best time management requires a once a week review to stay on top of everything.”
Ellen Delap, CPO® – Certified Professional Organizer & Certified Family Manager
6. Do Make Decisions. Don’t...
“Do learn to make decisions, especially when you’re feeling overwhelmed or ‘stuck’ because there’s so much to do. What are your primary goals? What do you want to prioritise? What could you drop from your schedule? What resources or support do you need?
Don’t aspire to perfection when excellent will do. There’s nothing wrong with high standards but perfectionism and procrastination are closely related… and both will get drain your time and energy.”
Juliet Landau-Pope, CPCC – Procrastination Coach & Professional Declutterer
7. Do Capture Goals. Don’t...
“Do make planning an established weekly routine. Good planning captures important goals and ensures that they are achieved by identifying what activities (action steps) are required to achieve the goal or desired outcome.
Don't confuse good planning practices with calendar scheduling; they simply are not the same. For example, one can fill up a calendar with busy-work activities, say between 9AM and 5PM five days a week, but if the action steps that support the goal (as mentioned above) are not included in your scheduled activities, it’s not likely the goal will be realized. Good planning minimizes time-wasting.”
Sheila Delson, CPO-CD® – Professional Organizer & Author
8. Do Schedule Wants. Don’t...
“Some of my favorite strategies are ‘downloading’ often and writing things down, scheduling time to do what I want to do, and sending email reminders to myself. Yet, what really makes a difference for me is my mental attitude. Time management doesn’t work when I feel overwhelmed. I remind myself that I have all the time I need to do the things I really need to do.
When I get stuck in the doing instead of the looking at the big picture and making adjustments, is when I get in trouble. Sometimes, there is a reason that an action items keeps getting pushed back."
Yota Schneider – Life Transitions Coach
9. Do Play. Don’t...
“Do give yourself permission to take time to play and reflect. While our crazy go-go world may encourage us otherwise, not every moment has to produce a tangible output. Downtime renews the spirit and fosters creativity.
Don't confuse the urgent with the important. While both give us the satisfaction of crossing things off the 'to-do' list, one keeps us mired in today, and the other moves our agenda forward.”
Jane Perdue – Principal
Did you discover some nuggets of wisdom in this rich variety of responses from shifting mindsets, preparing next, making decisions to having playtime? Which ones resonated with you? Do you have a favorite time management do or don’t? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Come join the conversation and share your best time tips, successes, or challenges.