At the risk of sounding immodest, I’m going to admit that I’m good at managing my time. Co-workers, clients and friends often comment on how much I can produce and the range of work I can cover. I think of myself as one of those people who just gets stuff done. (There’s a dark side to this, in that I can be task-mastery and frustrated by distractions, but that’s a post for another day.)
So it’s been a rude awakening for me this year when I’ve found myself dropping some balls — or barely catching, as when a to-do pops in your mind like a last minute save. It seems I finally reached overload status between a demanding and varied work schedule, recurring travel, and a busy family — and my well-honed systems started breaking down. For the first time in my life, I started thinking I needed a systematic approach to time management.
I’ve coached my clients around time management for years, so luckily I had a well of advice to draw from and put into practice. In our overstuffed days, it’s a typical professional lament to just have a few more hours in a day. We don’t want much really, just to produce more, and better. Never mind that we’re asked to do more than our predecessors were ever asked to do, and by the way, to do it around the clock.
For all of you out there who want to get better at time management, I wish I had a magic bullet for you. All I can offer are my best tips. They’ve worked for me, and perhaps they will for you as well.
1. Start with a daily plan.
Peter Bregman, author of the bestselling time management book 18 Minutes, advises to make a plan as the first thing to do when you begin your day. In this Forbes article, he discusses the power of setting priorities up front — beforeeven checking email. How often do we get to our computer, power up email, and get lost in minutia? I’ve had clients so governed by email, that they go through their inbox at midnight to get a jump start before the morning. Email rules way too many of our waking hours.