There are 1,440 minutes in every day. But, most of us have, at some point wished there were more as we struggle to tick off everything on our daily to-do lists.
While there may be satisfaction to be gained by crossing off each action point in your daily diary, throwing away your To-Do list altogether is the most practical way to make sure the tasks which really need doing get done.
It’s all about changing your mindset to think about being effective, rather than efficient.
Type “time management tips” into your search engine and you’ll find the majority of the content which pops up is about hacks which concentrate on saving you 10 minutes or so. But, what is really important is not the quantity of tasks completed but being clear about your priorities and goals.
Weekly, not daily
Set these out every week, rather than every day. That way, you can take a more holistic approach to business, rather than becoming addicted to urgency.
A daily To-Do list sets you up to do what is most urgent, without ever getting round to the really big, important tasks.
Instead, concentrate on weekly preparation and planning which looks at those big projects, rather than getting stuck into minor, but urgent activities which take up your day. Many entrepreneurs find that by taking time to do some planning on Sunday, they hit the ground running on Monday morning.
While you’d assume that if you’ve reached a certain level in your career, you’ll be adept at time management, that’s often not the case. People who move up the career ladder can simply find they take on more and more tasks, rather than shedding the role of manager and growing as a leader.
Rocks, sand and water
It’s useful to think about the analogy of a jar. If you take an empty jar and put in half a dozen big rocks, is it full? No, you could put in some pebbles around the rocks. Then you could add some sand. Then you could add some water.
The lesson here is not that there’s always room for more. It is about prioritising what you put in first. If I put the sand and the pebbles in there first, I wouldn’t have room for any rocks.
Think about those big, important tasks that will take your business forward as those rocks. While you still need to do the urgent, yes less important activities, these are the pebbles and sand which you must fit around the rocks rather than trying to manage your workload in the opposite way. If those urgent tasks aren’t important, it shouldn’t be you who is doing them. You should delegate those.
Whatever the priorities for your business might be, just remember to put your big rocks in first. Or you’ll never fit them into your day, or your week, at all.
- Time management is one of the themes explored in Azure Consulting’s new Practical Leader Programme.