Action Plan for Improving Your Time Management
If you want to find more time, become more organised, or simply feel more in control, you’ll need to make some changes. Coming up with an Action Plan will help.
Be Productive Not BusyIt’s easy to feel very busy yet at the end of the day have no idea where you’ve spent all your time. Procrastinating, spending excess time on unnecessary activities, and poor planning can make you very busy but very unproductive.
Action: Take a typical week and record how you spend your time; if possible in thirty minute stretches. This will give you a very good indication of how you spend your time.
PrioritiseAction: Create a list of everything that you do and categorise as: essential, important and nice-to-do.
You soon see there are some activities which you must do, others that are important but if really pushed don’t have to get done, and others that should get done but aren’t important. Spending excessive time and energy on unnecessary activities wastes time and diverts our attention from what's important.
Set GoalsHow much do you really want something? Some famous authors talk of getting up very early in the mornings to write every day, regardless of how they feel. Such dedication shows just how much they want to write and achieve their goal.
Regardless of your goal; perhaps it’s to learn something new or become fit, if you are determined you will find the time and make the necessary sacrifices.
Set realistic goals with achievable targets. It would be great if we could loose ten kilograms in a month but it's unrealistic and very demotivating when you fail to meet the target. It's better to set smaller targets that you are likely to achieve.
Goals also help you decide what activities are essential verses important or just nice. They also give you focus.
Action: Set some short-term goals for the next month (no more than five). How well do these correspond to your list of essential and important activities? Revise if necessary.
Realise your Time WastersWe all have them! These are the activities that eat into our time without even realising it. Activities like browsing the web or watching television can very quickly go from a few minutes into hours. It’s ok to take time out and do such activities, but if you are short of time for other activities, these are important areas where you can claw back time. It's all about choices and remaining focused on your goals!
Action: What are your biggest time wasters? How much time could you save per day by not doing, or cutting back the time you spend on your biggest time waster?
Find Ways to Gain TimeBe innovative about how to gain time. Here are some suggestions:
- Get together with other parents and taking turns doing the school run
- Have shopping lists and plan your weekly shopping
- Shop, bank, research over the Internet
- Enlist the help of others, particularly partners and children
- Cook two meals at once and freeze one for a later date
- Combine your exercise with your daily routine (such as walking to work, park further away in the car park, take the kids to the park and run around)
- Plan to do your housework on particular days (and try to avoid doing housework all the time)
- Be easy on yourself! Constantly driving for perfection can be exhausting and very time consuming!
Action: Now come up with five ways that you could gain back time.
Create a ScheduleOnce you understand the activities that make up your days, come up with a schedule that can be placed in a very visible place in your home. This is an easy way to understand how you spend you time and you’ll also feel more on top of things if you plan ahead for what needs to be done. Encourage everyone in your household to use the schedule.
Action: Draw up a monthly calendar on a large sheet of paper. Plan out your next month - first with all your essential activities (make these one colour) and then important activities (make these another colour). See how much time you have left over and then add some of the nice-to-do activities if you have some spaces (and if you want too). Remember nice-to-do activities are optional! Again these should be a different colour. List your goals under your schedule as a reminder of what you really want to achieve from your month!