Do you know what one thing is common among all of us, regardless of our wealth or age?
Every human being in this world has 1,440 minutes every day. However, while we all have the same amount of time, some people are more productive than others. Time management is a skill that doesn’t come naturally and requires effort and planning. Below is a list of seven important strategies that will help you ensure the productive use of your time.
MIT – most important task. Defining the most important task of the day is crucial to ensure it gets done. By identifying the most important task, you train your brain to prioritize and focus on what needs to be completed.
80/20 principle. This principle helps you to focus on the most important tasks, as 80 percent of the results come from 20 percent of the effort. When planning your day or week, allocate 80 percent of your time to the top 20 percent of tasks that will produce the most significant results. Focus on the most valuable 20 percent of meetings and minimize the rest. To manage journals effectively, identify the most valuable 20 percent and disregard the rest.
Energy management. We cannot effectively manage our time without first managing our energy. To master time management, we must cultivate our self-management skills and channel our energy toward completing the most important task.
Keeping a notebook. Famous people like Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Edison, and Mark Twain always carried a notebook to jot down their ideas. Writing down our ideas gives us a visual representation of our plans and can reduce anxiety. Richard Branson even used his passport to capture his ideas!
Block your calendar. You’re not alone if you’ve ever failed to complete all the tasks on your to-do list. Seeing that incomplete list at the end of the day can increase anxiety and disappointment. To avoid this, block your calendar for your most important task. By scheduling time in your calendar, you’re committing to yourself that you will complete that work within that time frame.
Email, email, email. Studies have shown that people spend hours reading and writing emails every day, and checking emails can be as pleasurable as playing the jackpot. To avoid getting stuck in this cycle, try blocking two to three specific times throughout the day to manage your email folder.
Meetings. How many times have you told yourself, “We didn’t need to have this meeting; an email would have sufficed?”
The Yahoo CEO conducted standing meetings for only 5 to 10 minutes instead of the usual 30 minutes. As we shift to in-person meetings again, we can adopt this approach. Avoid scheduling meetings that could be done over email.
Our lives are filled with demands, requests, and requirements that can be difficult to meet each day. As former Coca-Cola CEO Brian Dyson once said, “Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling five balls in the air: work, family, health, friends, and spirit. Work is a rubber ball; if you drop it, it will bounce back. The other four balls are made of glass, and if you drop one of them, it will be nicked, marked, damaged, or even shattered.” This quote serves as a reminder to strive for a balanced work-life integration, using our time wisely to achieve our goals while maintaining our physical and mental health.
Farzana Hoque is a hospitalist.