"Time is what we want the most, but use the worst." -- William Penn
Have you ever begun your week committed to take action only to arrive at Friday realizing that it didn't happen? This was the week that you were going to apply for that job, start that blog, write that business plan, or start writing your book. You tell yourself that even though you missed this week, you will get it done next week. Sadly, next week goes by and you have the same result. You are an intelligent, goal oriented go getter, so why didn't you follow through?
The reason for your lack of follow through can be summed up in one word: LIFE.
The normal demands of life can throw you off course. These demands can come from family, career, friends, or the organizations that you belong to. Modern technology makes it easier to be thrown off course now that we have cell phones, email, text messaging, and social media. We live in an era of instant access and interruptions are only one click away. So how do you accomplish your priorities in spite of all of these interruptions?
Scheduling your priorities in advance is the key to success. Below are my three steps to scheduling your priorities:
1. Identify the Priority
What are the tasks that if accomplished will help you to achieve your ultimate goal? To accurately identify your priority, you must use what I call "The line up" test. If the task does not "line up" with the ultimate vision and goals you have set for yourself, then it should not be considered a priority. For example, if your ultimate vision is to be an entrepreneur, then the task of writing a business plan passes the line up test and should be given priority status.
2. Isolate the Time
This is where you use a calendar to schedule in advance those tasks that are priorities for you. Depending on the task, you may need to schedule multiple days to complete it. There are three steps involved with isolating the time: First, set aside a minimum of a thirty minute block of time to get it done. Next, get a timer and set it to alert you once your time is up. The final step is to discipline yourself to not check email, send text messages, use social media, or do anything other than that task during the time you have isolated.
3. Issue the Communication
It is very important that you communicate with those around you and let them know that you are not to be disturbed during the block of time that you have scheduled. They will need to answer the phone and take messages on your behalf. This communication can be issued to family members, co-workers, employees, etc. The more advance notice you can give to those around you, the better results you will see. For example, Sunday's from 8:00pm to 8:30pm is the time that I have set aside to analyze my results from the previous week and to make plans for the upcoming week. My family members and friends know in advance I will not be available during this time because I have issued the communication to them.
So there you have it. If you commit to identifying the priority, isolating the time, and issuing the communication, you will be on your way to time management mastery! Remember, it takes twenty one days to form a habit so consistent focus is the key.