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The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.

-Mark Twain

It seems as though some people get everything done effortlessly while others feel that time constantly eludes them.  The key to successful time management isn’t about working more hours, it’s about making your hours work for you. Once we learn how to prioritize the important things, we use our time more efficiently and are more effective.  We work smarter, not harder.

Some of us are natural organizers and get tasks out of the way before we relax, while others of us choose to play first and then work. Whichever way suits you, it is important to make sure the style is allowing you to live the life you truly want.  Are you organized at work, but feel out of sorts when you get home? Or are you a pro at leisure, but lacking drive at work? Feeling unfulfilled when it comes to life goals and dreams?

Wherever you fall, rather than labeling yourself or beating yourself up, I would encourage you to recognize that time management is a skill that you can attain and strengthen. Like a muscle, it takes practice and repetition to make it stronger. Below are a few steps to help you get started.  Pick the two that appeal to you the most and go for it.

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♦ Set aside time  for planning and  organizing frequently

♦ Create  to-­do lists  that are realistic,  not intimidating. Use only  one to-­do list

♦ “Under”schedule  your time: leave  time for the unexpected  and for interruptions. When  you estimate how long something  will take, add on 1/3 of that time.

♦ Schedule your time in  a way that reduces interruptions  which lower your productivity

♦ In the morning, check work email before social email.  Complete one task before checking your social email.

♦ Consider the Art of “Intelligent Neglect”: eliminate trivial tasks

♦ Take the time to Prioritize your to do list.

♦ Know your prime  time: at what time  of day do you work best?  Plan to do your most important work at that time.

♦ If you find yourself saying yes to everything and feel overwhelmed, recognize it is MORE THAN OK to say “NO”!  And try it!

♦ Ask for  help and delegate.  It is helpful to have several friends and co-workers that you can rely on in different areas of your life.  Take the time to create a team of people you can really count on.

♦ Make your ‘to do list’ every evening for the following day, so it will be out of your brain and on a piece of paper.  That way you will be able to go to bed with a clear head and wake up prepared, ready to go. Remember, chance favors the prepared mind.  Be sure to leave work with a clean desk.

♦ Acknowledge  yourself daily  for what you have  accomplished. Write down 1 or 2 of these things.



Keep in mind these two major roadblocks that impede us from using our time effectively: procrastination and lack of purpose

We usually procrastinate  when a task seems too daunting,  too large, or too complex that we feel  we won’t be able to handle it. Try breaking the larger task in smaller, manageable actions steps, and start with the first one.  Stay focused on just that ONE step until it is complete.

When we aren’t connected to the purpose of task, often it won’t even get started. Recognize whether or not the task is essential to getting done. There are times when a ‘to do’ must get done as a means to an end.  In this case set aside a time (I suggest during a “peak energy” time block) to accomplish the task and allow yourself a small reward upon completion. Commit to seeing the task through.   Other times we may need to have a serious gut check and ask ourselves what our intention is behind getting the current task done. If it is not in alignment with our purpose or greater goals perhaps we need to redirect our time and energy.  Being bored, unengaged or uninspired are red flags. It is OK to pause and ask yourself the important questions. “Am I doing what I love to do? Am I doing something that has meaning to me?” Time management should never feel like a chore, rather it should feel like a tool to hone in on what you value, to get organized and to get closer to living the life you came here for.

Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of.   ~Benjamin Franklin


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