Take Control of Your Time and Take Control of Your Life
By Archie Lawhorne
If you're ever going to take control of your life and make it
grand, you'll need to start by taking control of your time.
Without question, effective time management is fundamental to
succeeding in any area of life. In fact, it is often the main
difference between life's achievers and those who, although
always busy, never get anywhere.
Not surprisingly, an entire industry has been created out of the
need to better manage our time. But if you look a little deeper,
you'll see that its not so much about time management as it is
self management. Because in reality, you can't control time, but
you can control yourself and what you do with each moment of
Most experts agree that success is the result of habit.
Therefore, the first step in improving how you use your time
starts with your habits (self control). And your habits start as
consciously made decisions (i.e. what time you get up, what kind
of books you read, etc.).
Once established, good habits become second nature. In many
cases, success is not so much the result of doing the unusual,
but rather the result of one's ability to "master the mundane."
By consistently performing all of the little rudimentary tasks
that are important, over time these activities transform into
Here's some simple rules to follow for better time management:
Don't procrastinate. Do it now. When people put things off, it
kills momentum, slows achievement of current goals and restricts
future opportunity as time is clogged up. The way to tackle
procrastination is to set deadlines by which goals should be
achieved. The way to avoid last-minute deadlines brought on by
procrastination is to set intermediary goals which must be
achieved and then steadily track progress.
Track your activities. Memory is a poor guide when it comes to
assessing how you spend your time. A better way is to record your
activities throughout the day, listing everything you do. Most
people will find that they have about three hours each day that
can be used in a more constructive or efficient manner. Take
stock of the time you spend chatting on the phone, flipping
though magazines or aimlessly surfing the Web, and eliminate all
that isn't necessary.
Concentrate on results. Many people spend their days in a frenzy
of activity, but achieve very little because they are not
concentrating on the right things. Don't confuse working
efficiently with working effectively. Activities can be
tension-relieving, but not goal-achieving. By concentrating on
fewer "major" priorities regularly, you can achieve a lot more in
Remember the 80/20 principle: 20% of your key activities will
give you 80% of your results. Your aim is to change this to
ensure that you concentrate as much of your effort as possible on
the high payoff tasks.
Use travel time wisely. It's easy to overlook time spent
traveling in your assessment of time management. Consider
carefully whether this is time that you could use more
productively. For example, if you opted to take the bus or train
to work, would this provide an opportunity to make better use of
your commute time? Or if you do drive, are you listening to
educational or motivational tapes (rather than the Top 40) which
could help improve your skills and make you a more productive and
Develop action plans. An action plan is a brief list of tasks
that you have to complete to achieve an objective. It differs
from a "To Do" list in that it focuses on the achievement of a
goal, (and the specific steps to get there) rather than just on
the goals to be achieved in a period of time. Whenever you want
to achieve something, drawing up an action plan allows you to
concentrate on the stages of that achievement, and monitor your
progress towards that realization.
Respond quickly. For example, take care of your mail as you
receive it. Don't let those bills and letters pile up on you. If
you're unable to respond to a letter immediately, file it in a
special place that's visible, and note on the envelope the
required action and date you intend to resolve it. When possible,
act on requests the same day you receive them. Don't let your
computer, your desk or your mind become clogged with useless
Be Decisive. Learn to say no to people. Your time is important,
so don't let other people impose or use you to compensate for
their poor planning. Eliminate distractions as much as possible.
Close your door, turn off the ringer on your phone or simply ask
not to be disturbed.
Schedule time to relax. When you're organizing your time and your
business, make sure to set aside some time for relaxation. If you
plan for it in advance, it's less likely to come up spontaneously
and distract you from other tasks. (No, sitting at your computer
with a mouse under your hand does not qualify as relaxing).
Your first step toward better time management is to take stock of
the time you waste each day and from there, reorganize your
activities to maximize every minute. (Essentially, it boils down
to exercising better self control - it's simple, but not easy).
Above all, stick to your plan. Your schedule will work only as
well as you commit to it. Keep it with you everywhere you go and
refer to it often. By following these tips, you'll create more
space to be, do and have more in your life. Best of all, you'll
approach life in a more proactive and intentional manner.
About The Author
Archie R. Lawhorne is an experienced writer and marketing
consultant. To receive his free one-page report on how to boost
your energy, enhance your mental focus, relieve chronic
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