Spend Time

Here are some ideas on how to spend time wisely.  I would love your thoughts and comments below!

“I’m so busy!  How do I find the time to get everything done?”

“Why does everything seem so urgent?!”

I don’t know about you, but I hear comments like these all of the time.  Let’s face it…we’re all busy.  However, there are some simple things that you can implement today to dramatically increase your productivity and decrease your stress level.  Sound good?


Your Most Essential Tool
One of the most important tools of any successful person is their calendar.  It’s not exciting, but everyone needs to have something on which they can keep track of their lives.

It doesn’t matter whether your calendar is electronic or paper…it just matters that you have one.  The requirements for a successful calendar system are if you can keep it with you at all times and if it’s something you can update easily.  Because of these needs, many people opt for their cell phone calendar or some sort of PDA.


How do we spend time?

For better clarification on how we spend our time, let’s turn to Dr. Stephen Covey’s masterpiece The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.  He lays out the these four ways that we spend our time:

Area 1 – The things that fit into this area are things that are not important and not urgent.  We all have these things in our lives, but the goal should be to avoid this area where we spend time.  The more time that you spend here, the more ineffective you will become.

Area 2 – Things that are urgent but not important fit into this area.  These items are the most seductive time killers in our lives, because they appear to be important.  Do not be fooled, and avoid these items at all costs.  Often times, people that spend time here feel like they are working hard but getting nothing done.  Sound familiar?

Area 3 – This area is unavoidable, and that’s OK.  These are things that are both important and urgent.  You can’t avoid spending time in these places, and you should not feel bad about it.  However, always ask yourself, “is this really important?”  You may have a few items here that should really be in Area 2.

Area 4 – This area is the single most neglected area in our lives.  These items are important but not urgent.  They include spending time with your spouse, reading a book on your field, or anything else that can move your life forward.  The problem with this area is that no one is checking to see if you get these items done.  However, this is the place that successful people spend most of their time.  In fact, by prioritizing things in this category, you can eliminate much of the tasks in Area 3 before they become urgent.


So…where are you spending your time?  What do you need to eliminate?


Weekly To-Do Lists
That’s right…weekly.  Most people that make to-do lists just do them for individual days.  However, the problem with doing this is the fact that you tend to dwell on the urgent when you look at smaller amounts of time.  By expanding your to-do list to a week, you can look more at the long-term goals that you have.

In order to make an effective to-do list, you need to first decide the different roles that you take on.  Include things like your profession, your friends, your family, and anything else of importance.  Also, make sure that you review your long-term goals.  When your goals and your roles are clearly defined, start writing to-do items for each of these areas.  Don’t worry yet about prioritizing your list…that comes next.


How to Prioritize Your List
Prioritizing your to-do list is rather simple.  You need to assign two values to an item:  a due date and an importance level.  I use the following values for my due dates:
Monday (7)
Tuesday (6)
Wednesday (5)…and so on to Sunday

For assigning importance, I use these values:
Things that need to get done that day (3)
Things that need to get done close to that day (2)
Things do not have to be done by that day (1)

Once you have these two values, simple multiply them together to get your priority number.  After you do this math, rearrange your list in descending order.  That way, the things at the top of you list are the things that need to get done the soonest with the most importance.


Final Thoughts
When getting organized in life, you are building habits, and these new habits will take some getting used to.  However, if you can keep them, you will notice over time that your stress level will decrease and your productivity will skyrocket!



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