Organizing Time

Bill Abbate

Do you wish you had better control of your time? There never seems to be enough of it, does there? What if you could eke out more time each day to do the things that can help you live a better life?

It is highly likely that you already possess this tool, the greatest instrument ever created for managing your time. It can help you organize, use your time better, and control your life! There is no better tool when used with the right mindset.

With today's omnipresent technology, this tool is always at your fingertips. Provided you own a cellular phone or computer with a web browser, it is available all day, all year long.

But the ultimate version of this tool is made of paper in the form of an appointment book/schedule/calendar/planner. The paper version requires no power and can be with you 24/7/365. According to Psychology Today, writing by hand will also enhance your memory.

I bet you have already guessed what this tool is! Yes, it is the calendar (or appointment book/schedule/planner.) It is the ultimate time management tool when used correctly.

The tool

Most people use a calendar to keep track of important dates and events. Yet few use the calendar in a way to significantly enhance the outcome of their day, week, month, and year.

"You may delay, but time will not." Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)

Since a calendar is so good at helping you keep track of important events, dates, and times, why not put other essential items on it? Most of us only add things to our calendar on which we place a high value. Those more mundane tasks usually don't make the cut because we place little value on them. Yet some of these seemingly insignificant things can be extremely important in the long run. They can be so important as to be crucial to your achievement and success in life.

"Time is the coin of life. Only you can determine how it will be spent." Carl Sandburg (1878-1967)

Create a daily must-do list

Before tackling your calendar, determine the more essential items that need to be on it. You can do this by looking at that endless to-do list. You do have one somewhere, don't you? Some keep a nice, tidy, short to-do list. But these lists grow over time for most of us, and we can add so much to them they become practically meaningless.

Make a list of the most essential and critical tasks that will impact your future. From this list, you can create a daily must-do list. The only things that go on this list are those that answer these questions:

· Is the item one of the top five things I must do today - in whole or in part? If not, why add it to the list?

  • What will the impact of this item be a year from now? If little or nothing, why do it?
  • How does this task fit my vision and purpose in life? If it does not add to my life, why do it?
"When you kill time, remember that it has no resurrection." A.W. Tozer (1897-1963)

You may think five items are not enough each day, but don't fall into that trap. When you attempt to do five major tasks in a day, you will quickly find it is nearly impossible. Direct experience has shown this by working with hundreds of people for decades. Want more proof? Simply google "3-task rule" and "1-3-5 rule," and you will find plenty of corroborating information!

Chunking time

A little planning in this step will go a long way. As the old saying goes:

"If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!" Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)

One of the greatest returns on investment you will find in life is planning. Time is invaluable, so anything you do to use it wisely pays enormous dividends.

"An hour of planning can save you 10 hours of doing." Dale Carnegie (1888-1955)

When you plan your time, you will be pleasantly surprised by how much more you accomplish and how little time it takes to get better results.

Start small and work your way up to block out as much time as you need to do the important things from your must-do list. Carefully block out chunks of time for the more challenging work when you are at your peak, which is morning for many, and later for some.

A chunk of time is whatever you determine it to be. For me, it is a large enough amount of time I can get some real work done - at least an hour or two. When you start to block out time on your calendar, I recommend a minimum of 30 minutes to an hour for a task.

Focusing your attention and effort into a chunk (or block) of time will help you get far more done than not scheduling anything at all. Your productivity will skyrocket when you work purposely and not haphazardly as too many people attempt to do.

Use your calendar correctly

Always strive to use your time as efficiently and effectively as possible. Develop a can-do, will-do mindset that helps you get things done!

"Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things." Peter Drucker (1909-2005)

This simple statement made by Drucker is critical as you consider what you put on your calendar. For the items you add, it is wise to:

  • Follow through and complete what you place on your calendar (efficiency).
  • Ensure the item added to your calendar will make a difference in your life (effectiveness).

To make your calendar work for you, you must:

  • Add only those items that are meaningful enough to warrant your undivided attention.
  • Be serious about the importance of each item added to the calendar. Developing a sense of urgency is helpful.

If you do not do these two things, your effort can be wasted and fruitless.

"You will never 'find' time for anything. If you want time, you must make it." Charles Buxton (1823-1871)

Lastly, see the time you block out on the calendar as appointments with yourself. These appointments must provide you with uninterrupted time for the task at hand. This means no phone, email, and nothing else that can distract or interrupt you. Uninterrupted time with zero distractions provides tremendous leaps in productivity. These are the most important appointments you can ever make. They allow you to do the life-changing work that will propel you into the future with outstanding achievement.

Final thoughts

Ask yourself: "What is my time worth?" Better yet, ask, "What is my life worth?" Is it not invaluable to you and those you care about that care about you? You bet it is, so why not treat it as such!

The greater understanding you have of the importance of those things you add to the calendar, the more committed you will be to completing them.

Finally, get rid of all expectations of what will result from using your calendar well. Replace these expectations with intentions! You will be far ahead of those whose lives run on expectations by simply becoming intentional about making things happen. When you replace all expectations with intentions to use your calendar successfully, you will have won nine-tenths of the battle before you even start!

I leave you with a favorite quote from all those who value time. Please take it to heart!

"Time is free, but it's priceless. You can't own it, but you can use it. You can't keep it, but you can spend it. Once you've lost it you can never get it back." Harvey Mackay (1932-present)

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Semi-Retired-Leadership/Executive Coach -Personal & Career Growth Expert -Editor and Leadership Writer at Illumination -Author

Richmond, VA
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