Last week, I wrote about the misconceptions a lot of people have about time management and how it is best viewed not as a single skill but a number of related skills that help you create effective systems for achieving your goals. As you build that system, there are 3 things to keep in mind:
Time is limited
A day in Nigeria lasts 24 hours. So does a day in China, Brazil or Lithuania. Within those 24 hours, you have a few peak productivity hours (or office hours) during which you want to get things done. You must learn how to estimate how long a task will take and the best time to get it done during the day. It is unlikely that you can fit three two-hour long high focus tasks into an 8 hour work day. You must learn to pace yourself or risk burnout. Time management is NOT spending five sleepless nights trying to beat the deadline for your latest project.
Goals must be written down
You need a system to capture all your priorities and break them down into actionable tasks. It’s almost impossible to decide what to focus on if you don’t have a goal. For most people, a personal development plan is a good place to start capturing what you would like to get done.
Be ready to change
The aim of time management is not to have a rigid system to be religiously followed. A quote attributed to Moltke the Elder says “No battle plan survives contact with the enemy.” It’s a fact of life that things will not always go according to plan. Circumstances change and priorities can change along with them. You must be prepared to adapt to changing circumstances. There is no point having a detailed plan for the next 10 years. Society and technology are likely to have changed long before the decade has expired. A high level plan will do with more indepth plans for each year as it draws closer. It is better to bend than to break. Where your priorities change, review your goals. Do not force yourself to complete an old goal if realising it no longer brings you value.