Make a List and Stay Focused on Priorities for Effective Time Management
When you hit a crunch point, your ability to stay focused and concentrate can make all the difference between success and failure. You cannot do everything, so an effective way for you to complete your most important tasks is to make a list. Effective time management is essential to getting through your busy schedule.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said, ‘‘The things that matter most must never be at the mercy of the things that matter least.’’ Stephen Covey said, ‘‘The main thing is to make the main thing the main thing.’’ There is a rule that says that every minute spent in planning saves ten minutes in execution. Make a list before you start to ensure that when you do begin work, you will stay focused on that activity that can have the greatest possible consequences for yourself and your business.
Refuse to ‘‘major in minors.’’ Keep asking yourself, ‘‘What’s really important here?’’ Your ability to ask and answer this question will keep you on track and stay focused throughout the day.
Think on Paper
To stay focused on your top priorities, there are a series of steps you can take for effective time management. First of all, think on paper. Writing things down is absolutely essential for you to be able to take control of the situation during the emergency or crisis. Before you take any action, make a list of everything that you have to do to solve the problem and get through the crunch.
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In 1342 a.d., the philosopher William of Occam developed a concept that has come to be known as Occam’s Razor. This principle says that, in dealing with any problem or complex issue, the simplest and most direct explanation or solution is usually the correct one. What this means is that you should refuse to allow yourself to become overwhelmed with trivia and detail. Stay focused and start off by trying the simplest possible solution.
Make a List
At the beginning of your day, make a list of everything that you have to do during that day. Go over the list and number the top seven items. Ask yourself, ‘‘If I could do only one thing on this list today, which one task would it be?’’ Put a ‘‘1’’ next to that task or activity. Repeat this exercise until you have your major tasks organized from one to seven to help you stay focused throughout your day.
Then, discipline yourself to start immediately on your number one task and to work at it with single-minded concentration until it is complete. Refuse to do anything else but that one thing. If you are called away or distracted, immediately return to that task, like a gyroscope returns to center, and begin working on it again. Invariably, this one task can have the greatest potential consequences in your job or situation.
Practice Triage and Stay Focused
For effective time management, use the triage method. This method was developed by the French army in World War I, when the dressing stations behind the lines were swamped with far too many wounded soldiers for the doctors and nurses to treat. They solved the problem by dividing the wounded into three groups. The first were those who would die, no matter how much treatment they received. They were put aside and made comfortable.
The second group included those who had only light wounds. They would survive whether they got immediate treatment or not. They also were put aside. The third group consisted of those soldiers who would survive only if they were treated immediately. This is where the doctors and nurses focused their attention.
In your business you should apply triage as well. Stay focused on the problems that can be solved if you act immediately. Refuse to worry about situations that cannot be resolved. Let them go. And don’t waste time on situations that will take care of themselves whether you do anything or not. Stay focused on the problems, decisions, and activities where immediate action is essential to saving the situation.
Develop Effective Time Management Skills to Stay on Track
During crunch time, keep asking yourself key questions: What is really important in this situation? Of all the things I could do, if I could do only one thing, what would it be? What does this situation need of me that only I can contribute?
Here are the two best questions to keep you on track. The first is, ‘‘What can I, and only I, do that if done well, will make a real difference?’’ The second question, which you must ask and answer over and over again, is: ‘‘What is the most valuable use of my time right now?’’
Whatever your answers to these questions, discipline yourself to work on that priority, and only that, until it is complete. When you stay focused and concentrate on your highest priorities, you become more productive and effective in helping yourself and your company out of the crisis.
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Topics included in this article include
Effective Time Management
Make a List
About Brian Tracy — Brian is recognized as the top sales training and personal success authority in the world today. He has authored more than 60 books and has produced more than 500 audio and video learning programs on sales, management, business success and personal development, including worldwide bestseller The Psychology of Achievement. Brian's goal is to help you achieve your personal and business goals faster and easier than you ever imagined. You can follow him on Google+, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Linkedin and Youtube.