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It's About Time
We all get the same 24 hours each day. Time can be a blessing or a curse—either too fast or too slow. Einstein didn’t believe time was real, yet another wise man once said time heals all wounds. So what is it that makes time so confounding? And better yet, what is the best way to manage it? Especially during the holidays when extra tasks seem to suck time—not to mention enthusiasm—from our lives.
By Sally Benford
Our waking hours are limited and at the end of the year packed with daily to-do lists, many people find themselves checking off only one or two things—making them stressed, panicked and irritable. Time-management expert
explains that it’s not time that needs to managed, it’s our personal behavior.
The biggest time management challenge for everyone is not the not knowing what to do—it’s actually doing it
,” Turla says.
As the founder of the National Management Institute, Turla offers tips on how to enhance productivity to get more done in less time. He explains that defining priorities, setting a realistic pace and finishing what we start can increase daily productivity, lessen stress and help us maintain focus so we can enjoy our downtime. Turla offers these tips that will help put time on your side.
Define Your Working Style
Take a look at your day and be honest. Do you start too many things at one time or do you begin projects that you never finish? Are you easily distracted by interruptions such as emails or texts? Write notes about how and why you accomplish—or don’t accomplish your daily, weekly and monthly goals.
Most people set priorities, says Turla, but they often give priority to the wrong things, those that are quick and easy to finish or that seem urgent—even if they’re unimportant. The key is to ask, “How does this activity fit in with my long-term objectives and where I want to go with a particular project or with my career or my life,” says Turla. He advises setting long-term priorities and planning for interruptions by allowing extra time when you’re scheduling your day. Also, look for patterns of interruptions to determine if there are things you can do to minimize the frequency.
Is there something you’re doing to allow, attract or encourage interruptions? Think about how you can communicate better, educate other better or develop systems to deal with the unexpected.
Identify a “Key Result Area”
Think about your key result area (KRA)—in other words, what were you hired to do? Then as unexpected things come up during your day, decide if those interruptions will help your goal of completing your KRA.
Make an Effective To-Do List
Your list should set priorities on each item based on the significance of completing each item. Many people prioritize items based on what’s most urgent and what’s next most urgent. Instead, Turla suggests you focus on the payoff. Figure out what things you should be doing that help you in terms of your long-term objectives. Give those items your top priorities. Put off, delegate or ignore your low-payoff items.
We often do the quickest and easiest tasks on first. Turla suggests that we should do the hardest thing first. He explains that it’s the incompletions—stuff lives in your head that you haven’t finished—that wears you down. Before you finish your work for the day, empty your brain into a planner—make a plan for how you will finish the project that day or week or month, and then leave that in the planner.
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