For many, January marks the time to reflectively think about what we want to accomplish for the new year. And, for many, this is a daunting task because we don’t know where to start. Here are a few pointers to get you started.
Determine Your Goals. Time management experts across the board agree that one of the major causes of a crazy schedule is failing to set clear goals. Focus your energy towards achieving those goals that give you purpose. Goals are the foundation or bedrock of a solid time management program. Brian Tracy author of Eat That Frog outlines seven simple steps for setting and achieving goals.
1. Decide exactly what you want
2. Write it down on a Master To Do List
3. Set a deadline for your goal; set sub-deadlines if necessary
4. Add to Your Master To Do List everything that you can think of that you are going to have to do to achieve your goal.
5. Organize the list into a plan by priority (ABCDE – see below) and sequence
6. Take action on your plan immediately
7. Resolve to do something every single day that moves you toward your major goal
Activity: On your Master To Do List, write down exactly what you want (goals), a deadline for each, and then prioritize your list.
If you are struggling with identifying your goals, then first identify your roles and what you want to accomplish in each. For example; my roles are spouse, parent, business owner, friend, teacher, and volunteer. My goal for my parent role this week is to find a math tutor for my daughter.
Activity: Or, you can do the quick list method Brian Tracy suggests. In thirty seconds write down your three most important goals in your life right now. You can expand on this exercise by asking the following questions:
What are your three most important business or career goals right now?
What are your three most important family or relationship goals right now?
What are your three most important financial goals right now?
What are your three most important health goals right now?
What are your three most important personal and professional development goals right now?
What are your three most important social and community goals right now?
What are the three biggest problems or concerns in your life right now?
Think about your goals and review them daily. Every morning when you begin, take action on the most important task you can accomplish to achieve your most important goal at the moment. Brian Tracy author of Eat That Frog terms this “Eat That Frog!” Your “frog” is your biggest most important task, the one you are most like to procrastinate on if you don’t do something about it. It is also the one task that can have the most significant impact on your life at the moment. This is the task you want to start with each day. Often when we procrastinate, it is because the task seems too hard. But, if you did it first, then the rest of the day is easy, and you don’t have that frog croaking at you! You must develop the routine of eating your frog before you do anything else and without taking too much time to think about it.
Activity: Look at your Master To List what is your frog today? Eat it!
Practice the ABCDE Method
A = A task that is very important and something you must do. These are your frogs in life. You may have more than one “A” task. You can prioritize these by writing “A-1”, “A-2”, and so on. A-1 is your ugliest frog!
B = A task that you should do. These are your tadpoles of your life. Reviewing an unimportant phone call or reviewing your e-mail is a B Task.
C = A task that would be nice to do, but left undone would not suffer great consequences such as, phoning a friend or having lunch with a co-worker.
D = A task that you can delegate to someone else to free up more time for your A tasks such as, your teenage child doing his own laundry instead of you doing it.
E = An activity that you can eliminate altogether such as watching television.
Activity: If you haven’t prioritized your goals on your Master To Do List, review your list right now and put an A, B, C, D, or E next to each task or activity. Select your A-1 task and begin on it immediately. Discipline yourself every day to do nothing else until your A-1 task is complete.
Time management is really self-management. It is taking control of the sequence of events—having control over what you do next and your ability to choose the task that you will do next. Your ability to choose between important (what you decide to do) and urgent (what others may try to dictate you do) is the key determinant of your success in life and work.
Activity: Before you begin any task today ask yourself, “Is this task going to help me achieve one of my goals (important)?”
If you have struggled to reach goals in the past, let 2011 be the year you reach your goals…get started today–eat a frog!