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Cheat Sheet

Successful Time Management For Dummies

Making the most of your time at work means learning to make productive decisions quickly and asking effective time-saving questions at meetings. Save time on the road by keeping a list of your important travel details with you so you can get to them easily. Before you call it a day at work, take a few steps to prepare for tomorrow so you can start your day off on the right foot.

Keys to Evaluating How Well You Use Your Time

Knowing how you used your time this week can affect your moods, productivity, and preparation for next week. People who evaluate time spent can learn to be more productive and effective.

Key questions you must review:

  • What went well this week? What could you have done better?

  • How would you rate your week on a 1-to-10 scale?

  • Did you meet your goals at home?

  • Has what you’ve accomplished this week positioned you better to achieve your long-range goals?

  • What are the key improvement areas for you next week?

  • What’s diverting you from your schedule?

As you are reviewing your results, be careful to do so with an open, observant mind, not a judgmental one. Give yourself a couple of weeks before you resolve to change your schedule. Doing so helps you get through a long enough period of time to account for anomalies.

Before you can do any sort of strategizing, you need to take a good, honest look at how you use your time. For people who struggle with time management, the problem, by and large, lies in the crucial steps of assessing and planning. Start your assessment with these steps:

  1. Observe how you currently use your time.

  2. What do you spend most of your day doing?

  3. How far down the daily to-do list do you get each day?

  4. Assess your personal productivity trends.

  5. During which segments of the day are your energy levels at the highest?

  6. Which personal habits cause you to adjust your plans for the day?

  7. Take a close look at the interruptions you face on a regular basis.

  8. During what segments of the day do you experience the most interruptions?

  9. What sort of interruptions do you receive most frequently and from whom?

Grow the Quality of Your Personal Relationships in Less Time

Outside of work, personal relationships should be your first priority, so always consider them first, before you even start thinking about chores. Evaluate your connections with each of the important people in your life — family and friends.

  • How can you invest your time with this person to create a better relationship?

  • What’s most important to this loved one, and how can you service and support these needs?

  • How can you invest your time to nurture your child’s or dependent's developing interests?

  • How can you show that you value this person in a way that is meaningful to him or her?

  • What do you need to do each week to teach your child or dependent an important life skill?

  • What shared activities allow you to serve as a positive example?

  • What can you do to create a positive family memory?

Seven Steps for Starting Tomorrow Right

There’s nothing like getting your day started on the right time-management foot! Too many times, you end one day without preparing for the next . . . cluttered desks, disorganized calendars, and no plan for tomorrow can lead to unfinished tasks. To start tomorrow off right, follow these seven simple steps:

  1. Clear your desk.

    Put everything back into a file drawer, even if you plan to take those items right back out in the morning. Eliminate items to be filed or thrown away.

  2. Make tomorrow’s to-do list.

    List all the projects, tasks, telephone calls, meetings, and objectives you want to accomplish the following day.

  3. Prioritize the tasks on your to-do list.

    Be sure to complete the prioritizing completely from A-list activities (those with heavy penalties if they’re not completed) to lower-level tasks that can be delegated (D-list) or eliminated (E-list).

  4. Delegate all tasks, projects, and calls that someone else can do.

    If you can’t completely delegate the tasks because of their complexity or because a staff member is gone the next day, at least send a quick memo or e-mail letting the person know the assignment’s coming.

  5. Determine what you need to accomplish to make tomorrow a great day.

    By determining a goal, you increase your intensity, focus, and urgency from the time you walk through the door.

  6. Prepare your workspace for tomorrow’s A-1 priority task.

    Assemble all the materials you’ll need and neatly stack and organize them on your credenza or desk.

  7. Rate your day.

    To get better use of your time tomorrow, set aside time to reflect on today. Ask yourself the following questions:

    • What went well today? What didn’t go well?

    • Did you complete everything on your to-do list?

    • What did you learn today?

    • What would you have done differently?

Tricks for Creating High Performance Each Day

Professional athletes work to be in the zone, a place where positive results seem to stick like a magnet. You can create that high performance zone each day.

  • How many hours can you work at a high level each day?

  • What’s your most productive time of the day?

  • How many weeks can you work at high intensity without a break?

  • How long of a break do you need so you can come back focused and intense?

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