9 Time Management Tips For Leaders

Many peoples natural tendencies are toward repetition of daily tasks, or habitual lives.  Over the last few months I have began to look at and apply some time management, or self-motivational tactics to get more tasks done on a daily basis. Home-schooling our kids, writing a blog, and having a part time job had become a nightmare because I did not know how to manage what I was doing.  Listed below are the 13 time management tips that I am using to help myself and hopefully you get out of your rut.

1. Do the hardest thing first - I like this because it gets it off your chest.  Once the hardest thing you have to do for the day is done.  Everything else just falls into place. Brian Tracy says to, “Eat That Frog.”  Which essentially means that if the hardest thing to do all day is eat a frog, do it first so you can go on with the rest of your day.

2. Get Disciplined – I have never been a disciplined person.  I know what needs to be done but find it hard to get the motivation to move on things.  This is where the first tip helps a lot.  When you do the hardest stuff first being disciplined about the rest is easy.

3. Know what you want to get done – Starting each day the night or day before will help you to stay focused on the task at hand.  I don’t really work off a time schedule.  I work from a list of things I need to do and as each one gets done I mark it off.  As things arise I add them to the list.  I also know there may never be a day the list is done, but that’s okay, I will always have a job because of that.

4. Pay the price in advance – John Maxwell says that everything has a price, and you can either pay now or pay later, but you will pay a price.  Read the books, talk to the people, listen to the podcast, spend time with  your family, don’t eat that cake.  These are things we all want to be able to do and if we do them they are things that will compound over time.  If we don’t do them those results will compound as well.  Chose to pay the price now.

5. Know what you were hired to do – If you are doing things that are not in your job description or even in your work area, you may be doing them to kill time.  Find out what your job is and do that job completely.

6. Work on one thing at a time – If you find yourself working on multiple tasks, or jumping from idea to idea, STOP! Work on one task at a time and focus your energy into getting it done.  When you jump from task to task you have to gear up and catch up where you left off and this wastes large amounts of time each day.

7. Clear out the junk – Don’t leave a mess in your office or around your house.  If you live and work in a mess you spend valuable time looking for what you need, and re-reading things that you don’t need now.

8. Create a file system – I use Evernote and Dropbox to file my materials and I pay for Amazon Cloud Drive and Flickr to hold my music and pictures.  Evernote is great when you are reading a blog post or article to save it and know where to find it.  Dropbox allows me to work on the same projects at home or on the go either from my tablet or computer.

9. Just say no – I have had to learn to say no more than I say yes.  I am a people pleaser by nature and I don’t want to disappoint anyone, so I had to work very hard at learning to say no.  All  it takes is one, “No” to start the process.  Remember, if you get burned out, everyone will suffer.

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Life Balance – Take Time to List

One of the most important things that you can commit to memory is the value of your time. Your time is the most important asset you have, and it is the only asset you can not get back. If you are self-employed you have more of a sense for the value of your time but if you are a paid employee you may not value your time as much. Either way you need to know what the true value of your time is so when trivial items arise you can manage them more effectively thereby not spending your important time on them.

First, you must commit today to know the value of your time. You can write it out to help remember it or just commit it to memory but commit today to know its value so you can take control of your time usage.

Now that you have committed, make a list of everything you need to do. I use a flip notebook and Evernote but any notebook and online note system will do. This includes household items, business items, family items, social items, and any other items that I do not have here. This process may take several hours, which is okay.

Once you  finish, for now, you can see what you need to do. If your list is like my first one it looks enormous, but don’t worry about that, it has taken you years to procrastinate all of this on to the list so it may take two to three months to get rid of the majority. I guarantee you; now that you have your master list, items will get done faster than you think because with a list you can prioritize. For example, you are reading this article because me writing it is the most important thing on my list to do now.

Go through and decide what is important and you can use an; a, b, c, or 1, 2, 3 it does not matter just get them in some order. If you use a day-planner great if you are like me and do not great, this method is useful to either type. If you use a day-planner then you can put your most important item at the top of the planner to start first thing in the morning. If you do not use a planner then you will make a list of things to do tomorrow and put them in the order they need to be done. Your first project is the most important. Work on it and only it until it is completed or to a point where you can go no further with it. Then you will move on to item number 2 and so forth. What is not done today gets moved to tomorrow and so on.

Two things you need to realize are; first, the list does not stop growing. As new items come up they go on the list. Second, don’t stop. If you just keep going in a positive direction you will make progress. I know everyone gets off track but get back on when you do get off and keep moving forward.

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Life Balance – 5 Ways to Create Space in Your Life!

We each get exactly 168 hours every week. No scientist or philosopher or great person of the past has ever gotten more. In today’s world we can get bombarded with interruptions from every side and before you realize it your day then week then year is gone and you can not even remember what you had yesterday for lunch. Learning to lead yourself, and balance information and how it comes at you will help you have better life balance.

1. Get away. You must take time for yourself. If you will take one hour per week to plan the next week you will save a day in trying to figure out what to do next. I don’t use a day planner to keep time down to the fifteen minute block. I do have a 3X5 card my to-do list for that day only written on it. Remember it this way: one week per year, one day per month, one hour per week and fifteen minutes per day. If you take these times to plan your life and set goals you will be more successful than 95% of Americans.

2. If possible put yourself on an information diet. I know this sounds harsh but try to only check your email twice to three times per day. (If you are still reading thanks) If you think about it your email reading and sometimes rereading takes up significant amounts of your time. On my website I tell people I only check my email in the morning and in the evening so the know that when they send me mail it will not get answered right away. In the last week I have even turned off the auto check feature so if I am at the computer I will not even see that mail has come in.

3. Move to online mail such as Gmail or Yahoo mail or the new windows live which uses Hotmail and send or set up your online mail to check your work and personal mailboxes. Once you have moved the convenience is that you can check mail from anywhere in the world. If you set up filters for your incoming emails you will know which ones to check and what can wait until later or never at all. (Your can do this with windows outlook also but online is much faster and we will all be there eventually) If you use Firefox as a web browser there is a Getting Things Done (GTD) add-on for Gmail (Now called Active Inbox) so you can label your mail as it comes in and then act later.

4. When you do check your email do it quickly and efficiently. If it is trash; trash it. If it needs a response respond immediately so you don’t stick yourself with trying to answer all of your email two days after you have received it and then you get bogged down for two hours trying to catch up. Steven Covey says in his book Focus that we should either a) file it; b) act on it; or c) DELETE IT, in my opinion most mail goes in this category.

5. Let the phone go to voice mail. If it is not someone you need to talk to right away then don’t. They will either leave you a voice mail and you can check it like you do your email or they will not and it must not have been that important.

Everything you do needs to be done with this thought in mind. If you are working on a project and you stop to talk to someone it takes you at least five minutes to ramp back up and start your thinking process again. If you are a boss this should apply to your employees also. If you want them to be productive then leave them alone and let them work.

Bonus: Get rid of Nextel or set strict limits on its use. it is the biggest time waster on the planet. Most alerts are for bogus things or just to chit-chat not work. Those of you that use Nextel know what I mean. You will alert someone to ask them what they had for lunch, but you would not call someone and waste time to ask that. Either ban it or teach people how to use it.

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Life Balance – Take Time to Plan

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When I begin coaching someone in developing Life Balance we brainstorm about all they want to accomplish. Once we have this on paper it is easier to see where they want to be and then sort through what is and is not important at this time. What I have noticed however is people get off track because they do not take time to review their list or even glance at the goals they have set. This is how I believe you should break down your time to get the most items accomplished.

1. Take 2 days to one complete week each year to review what you have done over the last year, then decide what you want to accomplish for the next year. Before you start making excuses let me tell you this, (If you want to accomplish all your dreams then you must stop and take time out to make a plan). Find a way! Get a babysitter, get a hotel room, go away to somewhere so you can think whatever it takes to get alone and think. Do this individually first then with your spouse or business partner or who ever is involved. (If you are doing this for the first time others may not want to do it. Do not force others into joining you pray that they will become involved and slowly speak to them about what you are doing.) During this time you will get everything down on paper and organized.

2. Take 1 day per month. This will help you refocus and plan the next month. Again you are putting down what you want to accomplish over the next month in order of priority. Reread your goals and refocus where you have lost footing.

3. Take 2-3 hour per week. This is where you focus intently on the upcoming week. This list will be short and precise; your weekly planning time is where you save yourself the most time and energy. Remember 20% of the items on your list will bring you 80% of your results. Decide what your most important tasks are and list them in order.

4. Take 15 minutes every evening to set-up you list for the next day. Things might have come up during the day before that need to be addressed tomorrow so review and revise your to-do list. Read your goals. You must read your goals at least daily so they are fresh in your mind; I prefer to read them in the morning and evening so they are ingrained in my thought process.

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