Whether time management is a challenge for you due to an excessive workload or due to ADHD, you owe it to yourself to learn how to improve time management. Follow this four-step process to move towards your best time management in 2011.
First, identify your time management challenges.
Time management likely means something different to everyone. The first key to improving time management is to identify your challenges and determine what you want to achieve. Spend some time on this step so you can really uncover your challenges. Consider these questions as you consider your challenges:
- What does effective time management look like?
- What can you achieve if you improve your time management?
- What strengths can help you with time management?
Second, set a SMART goal regarding time management.
If you want to improve your time management skills, you need to set a clear goal. You might be tempted to set several goals all at once. Please don’t. Instead focus on one goal that follows the principles of SMART goal setting.
- Specific: Be specific to help you develop a clear goal that will help you focus. Read Set Specific SMART Goals for more information.
- Measurable: Make measurable goals so you know when you arrive. Read Measure for SMARTer Goals to learn more about this important component.
- Ambitious: While I recommend that you focus on one area of time management make sure that you set a goal that stretches you a little bit – be ambitious. For more insight about the “A” of SMART goals, read Achievable, Ambitious, ADHD or Attention – what does the A mean in SMART Goals?
- Realistic: To balance the Ambitious component, review your goal to ensure it is Realistic. For more, read Be Realistic for SMART goals that get Results.
- Time: Set a time limit on your goal. When will you achieve it? This helps build in the accountability that you need.
Third, implement a time management action plan.
You know your challenges and you have a SMART goal. Now you need to develop and implement an action plan that will help you manage your time better. Keep you action plan to five or fewer items. The secret here is in the effectiveness of your action plan, not in the number of your actions. Below, I am listing some potential actions that you can implement. Remember, you do not need to implement all of them, especially since not all of them will apply to your specific challenges and goal.
- Develop a morning routine to get yourself and/or your family going to start the day.
- Use an evening or bedtime routine to get sleep started more effectively.
- Set a timer 10 minutes before you need to leave for a meeting.
- Make a MUST DO list to ensure you focus on your priorities every day.
- Use a planner (more on this in step four).
- If you procrastinate, work on that big project for just 15 minutes every day.
- If you hyperfocus, set a timer to signal when a task should end.
- Check email twice per day.
Fourth, use a planner that works for YOU!
I am a huge proponent of planners. Many of my coaching clients ask my advice regarding which planner is the best. I am sorry to say, there is not a best planner. Just like there is not one time management goal that works for everyone, a planner choice is very personal. The good news is that my article Choosing the Right Planner can help you identify and use the planner that will serve you best in the coming year.
Do you need help with developing your action plan? Let us know by leaving a comment and we’ll write an article to help you!