One of the most frustrating things about life is finding out that so much time has passed and feeling that you just wasted time. Over the years, I have read various time management books and productivity books if only to get the most out of my day. I have tried various techniques, from simpe to complicated, from manual to automated - and found five things that worked best for me.
- Managing e-mail:
- Never check e-mail first thing in the morning. Use this time to plan your day and identify the top three things that need to be accomplished.
- De-clutter your inbox regularly
- Check email at specific times, not more than three times a day
- Managing Meetings:
- Never accept any meeting that has no clear objective. If possible ask for meeting materials in advance and come to the meeting prepared.
- Never accept any meeting that has no clear start and end time. In a worst case scenario, set up an alarm on your mobile phone to remind you of 'another meeting'.
- If possible, avoid any meeting that does not really need you or your input.
- Managing Tasks:
- Contrary to popular belief, multi-tasking is not effective, so don't multi-task. Do one task at a time.
- Assign yourself challenging time frames as tasks tend to finish 'on time'. If you set a shorter time and stick to it, you can do it. If you assign a longer period, you can still do it.
- If possible, delegate your tasks, especially the non-confidential, repetitive stuff.
- Managing Expectations:
- Politely say 'No' to stuff that doesn't really belong in your life.
- Know what you can or cannot do, what you are willing to do and how far you can extend an extra mile. Communicate this clearly to people you interact with.
- Don't be a people-pleaser.
- Managing Yourself:
- Do not stress yourself out with things you cannot change or control. Just do your best within your area of influence.
- Stay away from gossip mongers, emotional vampires, idea killers, etc., they have nothing positive to contribute to your life. Instead, hang out with people you wish to emulate or learn from.
- Set aside time to learn a skill or read a book.
The above simple tips can do wonders in your life. Try one tip at a time each week and by the end of the 15th week or even earlier, you will yourself with more time to do meaningful things.
I would be glad to hear from you.