Time is our most valuable resource. No matter who you are, you still only get 24 hours in a day. In that sense, time is a great equalizer. It plays no favorites; everyone gets the same amount. How you choose to spend it determines what you end up doing with your life.
This is why it’s essential to not only employ time management strategies, but effective time management strategies. Mastering time management is the difference between being busy and being productive, and what separates those still struggling from those who are living richer, fuller lives.
EFFECTIVE TIME MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES
If you have trouble sorting out how you can be more efficient in your everyday life, these strategies are easily deployed and can lead to quick results. Additionally, several of these are also effective time management strategies for business.
1. Prep for your day:
Devote a few minutes at the beginning of each day to performing a morning ritual of meditation. Taking this time helps you prime your mind, clearing out negative thoughts and readying you to be productive in the day ahead.
2. Prioritize your tasks:
Take a look at your current pile of duties and tasks. How many of these will actually help you feel fulfilled? Are they all as pressing and urgent as you might think? Move the duties that will help you reach your goals to the top of your list, and push those that won’t to another day – or find a way to drop them entirely.
3. Focus on the outcome:
By focusing on results and not simply the action, you can accomplish more in less time. Instead of getting lost chasing the bottom of an endless to-do list, you’re moving one step closer to what it is you truly want. When viewed through that lens, your everyday work stops being a mindless slog and becomes a dedicated path that you’re on.
4. Cut out distractions:
You get a lot more done when you aren’t being pulled in a dozen directions. Silence your phone and/or put it somewhere it won’t bother you. Switch off your email notifications. Close your office door if you have one. Put on white noise or noise-canceling headphones. The more you can focus on the task at hand, the sooner you’ll complete it.
5. Don’t multitask:
Multitasking doesn’t help you get more done in a quicker amount of time – in fact, it’s quite the opposite. Dividing your attention between numerous tasks slows you down and clutters your mind, leaving you with more work to do.
Is there someone who could do this task better than you? Let them give it a try. We tend to want to do things ourselves to ensure they’re done right, but putting someone else in charge of certain tasks frees you up for different work and helps them grow.
TONY’S STRATEGIES FOR BETTER TIME MANAGEMENT
Just about anyone can benefit from better time management, but be wary of focusing entirely on strategies that only focus on actions. To truly make the most of your time, you need to understand what it is you truly want in life and work toward it.
Tony Robbins has utilized these two strategies to make the most of his time:
TONY ROBBINS’ RAPID PLANNING METHOD (RPM)
The Rapid Planning Method isn’t just an effective time management strategy – it helps you plan out your entire life. RPM helps you turn off the noise, eliminate busywork and redirect your attention to the outcomes that have the highest value to you. The Rapid Planning Method is a key strategy for effective time management because it compels you to shift your focus.
RPM stands for:
What you truly care about are results. Otherwise, you’re just marking time, going through the motions. When you set out to accomplish something, work backwards. Yes, backwards. Start by thinking first about the outcome you want to achieve. Be specific, define your goal in terms of something concrete that you can measure. As the legendary writer and thinker Peter Drucker said, “What gets measured gets managed.” For example, if you want to lose weight, set a goal for how much weight you want to lose, such as 10 pounds in an established time frame, like three or six months. Making your outcomes clear is vital if you want to meet them. Clarity is power.
Why do you want to accomplish the outcomes that you do? Why is achieving an outcome a must for you? The why is the driving force; it is the passion and purpose that will successfully drive you toward your goals. You want to lose weight so you have more energy to be more creative, collaborate with your colleagues, play with your children and enjoy healthy activities with your loved ones. When you keep your purpose in mind and integrate time management strategies, you’re more likely to reach your ultimate goal.
What do you need to do – what action must you take – to reach your outcome? Don’t focus on one or two things – that’s just another to-do list. Instead, brainstorm and write down all the ideas that come to mind. Decide which actions will have the most power as you work toward that outcome. In order to lose weight, you have to remove processed foods from your diet and start weight training and engaging in aerobic exercise. These are concrete actions – unleashed musts – that allow you to reach your goal. Transforming the vague into the concrete is a crucial time management strategy.
The RPM system works in tandem with other effective time management strategies, such as results coaching. A Results Coach can help you set specific, measurable goals that align with your unique personal and professional “musts.”
The RPM system also helps you get better answers by changing the questions you ask yourself. Don’t ask what you’re going to do; first identify your goal, then ask yourself how you can construct a plan toward achieving it.
“CHUNK” YOUR TASKS AND GOALS
Focusing on a huge number of tasks and goals all at once is a quick way to overwhelm yourself. More importantly, it can derail your productivity. “Chunking” is a strategy for time management that allows you to avoid this problem.
Let’s say you’re about to go grocery shopping. You wouldn’t grab some oranges in the produce area, then head off to get a carton of milk in the dairy section, then find the hand soap, then go back to the produce section to get apples, then back to the dairy section for cottage cheese, then over to get shampoo, etc. Wandering all over the store will take longer and likely lead to you forgetting something because if your method is scattered, your thinking likely is, too.
Chunking organizes everything you want and need to do into manageable categories. These categories are easier for your mind to handle, and when aligned with your values and organized by your desired outcome, the tasks and goals that are more important to accomplish first easily reveal themselves.
Write down your “musts” for this week. Once you’ve listed these actions, examine them for common threads. Which relate to money? Place those under the heading of “Finances.” Which relate to family or friends? List those under “Relationships.”
Chunk, or group items that share a common theme. For example, most people believe that exercise is important, but many of those same people don’t exercise regularly – not because they can’t or don’t want to, but because they’re not effectively chunking the tasks surrounding exercising and not making the most of their time. They’re not thinking about what they want – the outcome. Instead, they are focused on what is causing them worry, pain or failure – they are focused on the task of exercising rather than their goal, to be healthier and more energetic.
Instead of getting caught up in the activity, chunk your tasks based on the outcome. If you need to get a new pair of running shoes (expensive and time-consuming), hit the gym twice (painful and time-consuming) and research vitamins you’ve been thinking about taking (boring and time consuming), chunk these tasks together under a heading like, “Fitness.”
Chunking lets you focus your mind on a manageable number of tasks and thus achieve more. Instead of spreading these tasks out over the course of a week, you can get them done at the same time.
COMBINE YOUR N.E.T. TIME WITH ACTION
You likely have extra minutes and hours stored away. Think about the hours you spend each week on what are essentially mundane but necessary tasks like commuting, running errands or cleaning the house. Instead of letting this time slip by, take action by using Tony’s principles of No Extra Time, or N.E.T. time.
Create a list of websites to visit, audio books and podcasts to listen to and action items you can clear off your list during those otherwise mentally idle moments. As you complete tasks like commuting to work, there’s no reason why you can’t feed your mind and improve your life. You’re now doubling what you’re putting into those hours, and the yield is exponentially greater. As effective time management strategies go, N.E.T. time plus action is incredibly powerful!
Let’s say you normally get up at 7:00. You have enough time to eat a quick breakfast before beating traffic to work. From there you work, then pick up your kids, run errands, make dinner, make sure they get their homework done and go to sleep at a reasonable time. It’s probably 9 or 10 at night by now, so what do you decide to do with the time before you go to sleep? Do you spend it passively watching TV, or is there a book you’ve been meaning to read for months? What if you even changed the time you got up to have an extra hour or two in the morning? Imagine brewing your morning coffee while listening to a podcast or structuring the business plan for the company you want to launch.
These highly effective, proven time management strategies can help you live a more fulfilled life, because they’re more than techniques for managing time – they’re tools for transforming the way you think. Success starts with the right mindset, and these time management strategies help you train yourself to focus on what matters most in order for you to live a more joyous, productive life.