How to Improve Your Time Management Skills

Writer Laurie Huff of Quo Vadis interviewed me about how to improve time management skills. Since it’s information that everyone can benefit from, I thought I’d share a snippet of the interview:

What are your clients’ biggest challenges? 

Their stress levels are causing problems at work or at home or both. They know that they want to be more productive and organized, but they’re not sure what steps to take in order to make that happen. The common denominators amongst all of my clients are that 1) they haven’t identified quantifiable definitions of what happiness is to them; 2) they operate on auto-pilot; and 3) they don’t pause daily and weekly to map out a plan.

What are some steps people can take to improve their time management skills? 

1) Identify what happiness means to you.

We spend an awful lot of time diving into projects and chasing after goals, but if we don’t have a measurable goal, how do we know how far or how close we are to achieving it? We often don’t think about what exactly it is that will make us feel satisfied or happy with where we are in life. Once we define that and quantify that, we can focus our efforts on participating in what supports our goals.

2) Be fully present.

So many people operate on auto-pilot. Have you ever shown up at a place and not remembered how you got there? Have you ever looked at the clock and wondered where the last hour or two or three went? That’s operating on auto-pilot. When we’re in that mode, we tend to jump at whatever lands in front of us – which is usually low-hanging fruit. Instead, if we’re fully present, we can pause and make a decision about whether or not immediately addressing whatever fire or opportunity that has landed in front of us is something that will support us reaching the goals we’ve identified.

3) Pause daily and weekly to map out a plan.

If you don’t choose what your priorities are for each day, you most likely won’t accomplish them. When you understand where your time needs to go each day and each week, you’ll be less likely to procrastinate or allow distractions to move you off-course. You’ll also begin to stop overscheduling yourself because you’ll see how much time you have in your life to add new items to your schedule. You’ll be able to morph your calendar so that you’ll always have time to complete your most important priorities.

The best time management skills are not hacks; they’re strategies. When you understand the thinking behind successful time management skills, you’ll be able to tell your time what to do.

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