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Goal Kicker – Managing your time to achieve your goals
March 05, 2012

Managing your time to achieve your goals

The one common ‘excuse’ I hear for people not achieving their goals is that they just don’t have the time. And I’ve used this excuse myself – I don’t have time to exercise today, so I’ll only have half a slice of cheesecake to make up for it. Who’d have thought that approach wouldn’t work!

And in today’s hectic society it’s easy to see why time becomes a constraining factor in achieving many things – so the trick is knowing HOW to manage your time effectively so you don’t waste time on those things that aren’t important, and instead focus your time on the things that are.

Time and self management is about making the most of the time we have available to us – we can’t create more minutes or hours in a day, and you can’t store surplus time for when we really need it. We can waste time though – and some of us do this very well – so the only way we can get more out of our day is to avoid the time wasters.

So here are some quick time management tips and resources that may help you (because I know you don’t have time to research the millions of articles and websites on the topic):

  • Get Organised. Whether you use time management software like GoalPro, a diary or a bunch of sticky notes, find a system that works for you and gets you organised! Organised people waste less time doing unimportant tasks, do their important tasks quicker and have a greater sense of direction than people who are dis-organised.
  • Plan. If you fail to plan, then plan to fail! Plan the week ahead and integrate the non-urgent development activities such as goal setting with your-day-to-day routine. By doing so you’ll naturally work towards achieving your goals, instead of leaving them in the draw. And of course, a well planned week is more efficient than one that isn’t planned at all.
  • Use a ToDo List. Every day, list the items you need to do and their priority – then stick to it! But just list what you need to do today and don’t be tempted to make it a list of everything you need to do – it will just be too long and you won’t know where to start.
  • Plan your interruptions. Well, you can’t always do this – but you can manage your interruptions. Set aside a particular time for reading and responding to emails or returning phone calls and have a ‘closed door’ policy during your most productive time of the day to allow you focus on the important tasks at hand.
  • Write things down. If you try to remember everything, you’ll start to forget important facts and you’ll lose your ability to concentrate on what you should be doing. Take a notebook and pen everywhere, and write things down as they pop into your head so your brain can get back onto the task at hand. The act of writing something down also adds clarity to your thoughts (because you have to frame it in words) and cements it further into your brain and into your sub-conscious, so you’re less likely to forget anyway.
  • Prioritise. Human nature means that we instinctively act on tasks that are ‘urgent’, whether these tasks are important or not. That’s OK for the tasks that are also important, but the other ones are not necessarily the best use of your time and effort. Find a system you like to prioritise your tasks and stick too it!
  • Know where your time goes. If you get to the end of everyday and wonder where your time went – find out! Use an activity log to monitor your daily tasks and use this information to better plan your day.
  • Arrest the time thieves. By using an activity log, you can identify any time thieves – those unimportant tasks that take up your valuable time. Whether it’s water cooler gossip or inefficient tasks – find out what they are and work out how to avoid them.
  • Don’t fill your day with small tasks. Using the analogy of a bucket full of rocks and sand, if you try to fill the bucket by adding all the sand first and then adding the rocks, the bucket will overflow because of all the gaps between the bigger rocks. If you add the rocks first and then the sand, the sand will find its way between all the gaps in the rocks and the bucket won’t overflow. Moral of the story – don’t fill your day with lots of small tasks, as you won’t be able to get onto any of the larger ones. Instead, tackle the large tasks and use the small tasks as “fillers” when you’ve got a spare 5 minutes.
  • Know when to say ‘No’. Too often we end up taking on too much, or end up doing someone else’s work. Know when you have enough on your plate and politely turn down requests for additional work.
  • Know when it’s good enough. Some of us are perfectionists and won’t move on until every little detail is right. That’s fine, but don’t waste time perfecting things that don’t matter. Know when your task is functional, and move onto the next one.
  • Use your energy cycles. We all have high and low energy cycles during the day. Know when you are most productive and use this time to do your important development tasks that require your full focus. Do more mundane tasks in your low energy cycles. Also make sure you exercise and eat properly to maintain your energy levels.
  • Understand Pareto’s principle – the 80:20 rule. The first 80% of a task takes 20% of your time, the last 20% takes 80% of your time. And 20% of your tasks actually aren’t important, but take 80% of your time. This principle can be applied a number of ways to explain value for effort. The key is to identify the best value for the least effort.
  • Always review your workload and commitments and your progress towards your goals. Things change, and you need to be flexible enough to change with them. By reviewing your goals regularly, you’ll be able to pick up on these changes a lot sooner and adjust your plan accordingly.
  • And finally remember that you’re not superman/ woman. You can’t do everything. So do the things that are most important to you and your development and do these as a priority. Also check out the section on Planning and Organisation, which goes hand in hand with Time and Self Management by keeping you on track and on task so you don’t waste precious time doing activities that just aren’t important.

    So until next edition, happy time management – and hopefully it will help you achieve your goals. And keep reading for two time management articles by guest authors Arina Nikitina and Rigdha Acharya.

    Best regards Sam Sander
    Achieve Goal Setting Success
    Your Money and Finance
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    ”Tips to Get Motivated and Overcome Procrastination.”

    Arina Nikitina Arina Nikitina is the author of the goal setting tutorial "How to Set and Achieve a Goal” which outlines 27 proven techniques, 9 worksheets, and step-by-step success plan.

    Here’s the Article… Procrastination is a complicated behaviour that affects all people to some degree. Some experience only small problems with procrastination while with others, it is a major source of anxiety and stress. Lack of motivation and procrastination is related to time management. Procrastinators often fail to complete tasks even though they know what the task is and the time they have to do it.

    Why do people procrastinate? Often a difficult task is avoided in favour of the less difficult. Tasks that take longer amounts of time are less desirable than those that can be completed quickly. People sometimes procrastinate due to fear of failure.

    No one wants to be embarrassed by a lack of knowledge or skills when beginning a new task. Overcoming the fear of failure and developing good work habits will do wonders for those who tend to procrastinate.

    The first step in overcoming procrastination is to recognize what psychological issues cause you to procrastinate in the first place. Self-defeating issues such as anxiety, fear, poor time management skills, indecisiveness, difficulty concentrating, and perfectionism can be major contributors to a lack of motivation. It's important to clarify your goals and then work to achieve them.

    If you do not know how to manage your time efficiently, there are classes and literature available to help you learn. In order to change, you first have to accept and forgive yourself for your shortcomings. Do not expect to change overnight, expect to backslide on occasion and forgive yourself when this happens. Give yourself adequate credit for tasks you do accomplish in a timely manner.

    If you have a friend or co-worker who seems to be highly organized and efficient, ask for suggestions as to how you can do the same. Reward yourself for small steps taken towards your goals and be realistic in your expectations. As with any type of behavioural change, overcoming procrastination will not happen instantly. Change your work or study habits to minimize distractions and promote wise management of your time.

    Be disciplined in your approach by setting a realistic goal and sticking to it. Setting priorities is critical in learning to manage your time in the most efficient manner. Do not dwell on setbacks or mistakes. Focus instead on success and soon enough you will stop dwelling on failure and instead come to expect the best from yourself.

    Motivation is the key to achieving success at work and at home. Motivation comes from within. Coming to grips with personal issues is the first step in realizing why you procrastinate and then taking steps to change. If you focus on self-discipline and proper time management, you will be able to change those habits that led you to be a procrastinator in the first place.

    You can get motivated and stay motivated by implementing a few changes and observing a few personal rules. Observing and copying those who seem to always be a step ahead is also an excellent tool in overcoming procrastination.

    Realizing that procrastination is a self-imposed condition is an important step in changing those bad habits into a lifelong formula for success. Make your plan, follow it carefully, and forgive yourself for imperfections. You will soon transform yourself from a chronic procrastinator into a highly motivated, disciplined individual.

    For more articles by Arina Nikitina, click on the ”Articles” tab on the NavBar. Or download her FREE ebook on "Goal Setting Tips.

    ”5 Tips to Manage your time effectively”

    Time is the most powerful currency of the 21st century. And this powerful currency demands much of our attention. Unfortunately, most people never make use of this remarkable resource we have – our time. Here’s some tips to help you make the most of your time every single day:

    1.Break down large tasks into smaller ones: We all know the feeling of staring at a new complicated project feeling overwhelmed and wishing we were anywhere but here. But, even complicated tasks are not impossible to handle. In fact, most tasks become unbelievably trivial once we break them down into small pieces. Get into the habit of breaking down your tasks into small ones and tackling each individual part one at a time. This will help you stay calm as well as it will help you accomplish your goals without the urge to procrastinate.

    2.Get rid of unproductive routine tasks: This included getting up each morning and checking your email. Do not start your day on somebody else’s agenda. Get out there, take some time to focus on the goals for the day and then start working on them. Do routine tasks during slow times of the day. For example, check your emails right after lunch.

    3.Look at your habits to see if they could be changed, maybe you could do certain things different ways and save yourself some time in the process.

    4.Evaluate yourself to determine if you are a morning person or night person and organize tasks to use whatever time suits you best. I am usually the most productive at night or after 10 AM and that is exactly why I work on my most important goals during those hours. 2 hours of focused work is far more valuable than 10 hours of unfocused work.

    5.Learn to say the word “no”: One of the biggest secrets of success is leadership. You need to be able to become a leader and say NO when someone asks you for a favor that can take considerable amount of highly productive time from you.

    You need to be very cautious about where and how you spend your time. Time is the most precious resource you have and you need to stop wasting it and start treating it like gold.

    Refer to the ”Life Skills” tab on the NavBar for more information on time management and other skills to get you organised.

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