Struggle with Time Management? Step Two: Actually Use Your Task Management System

May 2, 2013

Once you have a planning system in place (see first blog post on this topic), use it to create a master list that incorporates your personal and professional goals as well as existing and future projects.  One of the great time management ironies is that it takes time to make time—but a lot less time than most people think.  Set aside a half hour this week to create your master list and capture everything in one place.  Then plan to set aside 5-10 minutes once a week (for example, Sunday evening or Monday morning) to look at your master list, update it, and determine what needs to be done this upcoming week.  Flag the items that need to be done this week.  Then spend 2 minutes or less at the beginning and/or end of each day pulling from the weekly priorities into the plan for that day.  When working on your daily task lists, realistically assess the time it will take to get tasks done and the steps involved. A good rule of thumb is to estimate the time it will take and then double it.  Most of us underestimate the time it will take to get things done and then fail to deliver on time, don’t produce our highest quality work, or, most commonly, end up doing it last minute!  To create a smart daily task list, keep these tips in mind:

  • Keep tasks realistic, small, and achievable
  • If you cannot accomplish a certain task in one to two hours or, at the maximum, in one day, break the items down smaller
  • Give every task a deadline, starting from the end and working backwards to the present – and build in time for inevitable interruptions!