Can YOU have success in fifteen minutes a day?
So many times we experience the stress of having too many things to do. Maybe it’s not how much there is to do, but how well planned you are to do it.
Today’s society bombards us with things to do. Someone and everyone are clamoring for our time and attention. It is easy to become overwhelmed if you are not sure how to manage the demands on yourself. So what’s the alternative, moving to some secluded place like the mountains or the moon? Of course not. There is an alternative that doesn’t consume much of your day and will assist you in prioritization and time management.
If you’re like most people, you say you’re busy and can’t seem to get enough done. There doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the week to accomplish everything on your plate. The harsh reality is, if you had another day in the week, you would take on more tasks and be just as frustrated as you are right now. You’re not dealing with a volume issue; you’re dealing with a management issue. Your calendar has control of you, not the other way around.
How can you take control of your calendar when you have others with greater authority dictating things in your life? Great question! Before we address that question, let’s explore what you can do on a fundamental level to take back control of your calendar. Maybe the answer will begin to present itself.
We all have something going on in our lives. In reality, we have many things going on in our lives, so we need to prioritize them based on importance and scope. We usually do this automatically, and don’t give it much of a thought really; it’s just a normal part of life, right? We do need to do these things, but there is a more purposeful way to do them.
Imagine if you took a relatively short amount of time and determined what you needed to do over the next specified amount of time, based on the importance and scope of your responsibilities or desired results. What would that look like to you? Most of you have no earthly idea because it is not a common practice in your life. The profession of project management arose out of the recognition for this need.
Some things have to need attention right now. Other things need attention very soon. And other things only need attention eventually. These are three basic seasons in which we complete things in our lives, usually. If you are not aware of how to prioritize things in this manner, it would be beneficial to begin seeing them in this light. It’s the difference between urgent, important and necessary.
The scope of this article is to focus on right now, the urgent, mainly because it tends to provide the greatest amount of stress in our lives. In stressful times, we don’t think as clearly as we should and make poor choices. Managing these stress contributors is key to managing the amount of stress we allow into our lives. Once we get this area sorted out, the important and the necessary typically follow suit. It’s a methodology of self-management.
Each night, sit down and write down the things that must be accomplished tomorrow. Figure out the things that can be delegated and to whom they can be delegated. Try to narrow down the list to about five things, when possible, that you are personally responsible for doing. Prioritizing does a couple of things for you. Firstly, it maps out your day in your mind before actually having to live it out; in other words, preparation. Secondly, you are being pro-active about managing your day. Prioritizing gives you confidence, and you will act with more purpose the following day. I know not everyone is a “list” person. If you are of a more creative temperament, then use whatever works for you. The goal is to be prepared for the next day; the goal is not to become a professional list maker.
Since you took about 15 minutes the night before to arrange your day, you will have a keen understanding of how much freedom you may have in your day to take on other tasks. For example, let’s say you finished a few tasks earlier than you anticipated. When someone comes in to ask you to assist in something else, you can ask them the required time for the task and make an educated decision. You are also able to decline it at the moment and offer an alternative time frame, like tomorrow. Then you work that into your list that night for the next day. If the new task is urgent, then you have already done the due diligence in prioritizing your tasks for the day, and you are well-equipped to make an informed decision. Are you able to see the potential to minimize the amount of stress that changes can cause with poor preparation? This breeds confidence, and it will become obvious to others.
It seems so simple that it may be borderline offensive to feel the need to make an article out of this subject. However, so many of my clients have had an issue with feeling pressured and over committed that this simple exercise has become a true gem. Try it for a couple of weeks. If it doesn’t work for you, then discard it as another bogus online article. I’m quite confident if you genuinely apply these things to your end of day routine, you will recognize a marked difference in how you manage your calendar, instead of being managed by it.