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How do I get my time management under control?

Tuesday, 18 February 2014 | By Debra Templar

I’m starting a new business and feel a bit overwhelmed. I find myself going off on tangents and spending hours on things that aren’t urgent priorities. How do I get my time management under control?


It’s normal to feel overwhelmed but you have to master the feeling.


The first step is to want to get control of your time. And if the answer is yes, block out one hour of time - no interruptions - and do this. No excuses, no interruptions, no going off on a tangent.


Write down everything you have to do - no particular order, no classifications. Just write everything down. This is your master to do list.


Now split your list into two categories: ‘important’ and ‘urgent.’


All your activities can be classified according to a combination of these two factors. Always keep them in mind when establishing your priorities.


Some tasks are important, but not urgent. If it’s September and you have to prepare for a vital series of negotiations in December, the task is not urgent, despite its importance.


Important and urgent: these tasks should head the list. Their importance means that they probably have a high potential for profit, and that if you neglect them, the negative consequences could be considerable. Important and urgent things usually start out by just being important. Break down complex and demanding activities into more easily manageable chunks.


Think profit - the best thing to learn to do is to think profit. When establishing the importance of your activities, always ask yourself these two questions: Does this or that task have a high potential for profit? A medium or low potential? The importance ranking will become self-evident.


My experience has shown that it's better not to program more than 10 items per day onto your daily to do List. Obviously, if we're talking about extremely brief activities, they can be more numerous.


Everyone likes to have full, productive days, and to leave work with the feeling of having accomplished something, of having done what was necessary. And there's nothing more satisfying that striking number 10 off your to do list.


Don't do more than you set out to do. On the other hand (and I'm sure you've already guessed), don't fall behind. You might, when you were in top shape, have added a little extra to your daily agenda, just to test your limits. No more of that. Use the extra time to savour your success - you'll find that it's one of the best motivational drugs.


Give this system a go - you'll be pleasantly surprised!