The Time Management Exercise That Will Transform Your Day

This simple time management exercise will take you less than ten minutes to do, but it will have a huge impact on what you achieve during your day.

It applies the power of the Pareto Principle, which states that 20 percent of your efforts account for 80 percent of your results in all areas of your life; the things that give you the most ‘bang for your buck’.

So what’s your 20 percent?

Use this time management exercise to find out:

Make a list of all the things you want to do today.

There’s an art to this.  If you know how to plan your day you’ll have one before the day starts.

Look through your list. If you have ten things to do, which two are the most important? These are the ones that will make the most long term impact on your life or work. In fact, they will probably be more valuable to you than the other eight combined.

Once you know what matters most, your next challenge if to make sure you do it. The trouble is, the most important things tend to be the hardest to do, and the easiest to put off doing.

Look through your list again. Is that true for you? If so, here’s what to do:

Identify your most valuable tasks, the ones you could easily avoid doing. Choose one. Does it absolutely have to be done today? If so, do it today.

If it doesn’t, start it. You don’t have to do the whole thing, but you do need to put some time into it, and the sooner you do so, the better.

And here’s the good part...

When you make a list and identify what matters most, decide how long you want to work on those tasks.

Yes, you get to choose.

This immediately reduces the resistance you felt towards doing them, and you can make progress on what matters most for your long term success and happiness in life and work.

How this time management exercise works

Let’s say you identify ‘Write report’ as one of your most important tasks.

Now, this report matters to you. It doesn’t matter why -- only you are in a position to judge. (This is why thinking on paper helps, because we make more rational decisions about what to do.)

But it’s going to need five or six hours worth of work to complete, and that’s time you haven’t got today.

How much can you realistically do today? Two hours? An hour? Twenty minutes?

What’s important is that you identify what matters most and do something about it.

And when you write tomorrow’s list, put it on that, too. Repeat until complete.

Your most important task probably needs a degree of concentrated time, thought and effort. Fence off a block of uninterrupted time to do it (30 to 90 minutes would be ideal).

Every time you stop working on it and re-start another time, you have to get back ‘into the groove’ with it. The less you have to do so, the more efficient you will be.

To sum up:

  • Take ten minutes to sit down and identify your most important tasks.
  • Decide when to do them, and for how long.
  • Do them.

It’s a simple time management exercise but it really makes a difference. Try it and notice the effect it has on your day.

Do you need to get a better balance in your life?

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