I love Getting Things Done and it is the basis of my day to day time management system. Like any skill, it takes time to learn and practice to master. Some people aren’t ready to make the time commitment to learn GTD but want to improve their time management. So if you fall into this category, these tips are for you:
Start with the end in mind
For each activity you will undertake, spend a couple of minutes to determine what a successful outcome would look like for that activity. Spending just a couple of minutes at the beginning will ensure you spend your time wisely and that you spend the right amount of time (and energy) for each activity.
Delegate when possible
Ask yourself if you are the best person to do this work. If not, then delegate it to the right person and move on.
The 5 minute rule
Anything that cannot be delegated and takes less than 5 minutes to accomplish should be done immediately.
If you fail to plan, you plan to fail
If you have thought about the activity, decided you have to do it and that it takes more than 5 minutes then you should decide how much time the activity will require and schedule it in your calendar. Once something is added to your calendar, it should not be rescheduled unless there is an act of God ( don’t play musical chairs with your calendar items).
You can’t improve that which you can’t measure
Keep a journal to determine how you are spending your time. Most people I coach, initially refuse to do this complaining of extra work. It is very important for you to understand how your time is being consumed and I guarantee it isn’t how you think it is getting consumed. This is usually an eye opener for anyone who does this honestly for 2-3 weeks. You will soon see how much time you waste on non-value generating activities and will probably shift your focus.
You cannot multitask so don’t try
Read my article here for details but just don’t do it. Start one activity, give it your undivided attention, complete it then move on.
At least weekly, write on a sheet of paper all of your open to do action items. As you write, you will remember more commitments and add them to your list. Look at the last 2 weeks in your calendar and the upcoming week. Anything new come to mind?
Take some breathing time
Regardless of how busy you are, you can’t be productive for 10 hours straight. Every 45-60 minutes, take 5 minutes to walk around, stretch and just clear your mind. You will come back more energetic and productive.