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Time Management Myths and Tips

I recently saw an advertisement for a three-day time management seminar - it made me chuckle to think that we could talk so much about a subject that requires daily action.

Don't get me wrong, having the right tools and systems in place is very important - and feeling inspired by your system is half the battle.

While there are volumes written about time management, the solutions come down to a few simple practices.

First some of the myths and then a few tips....

5 Myths of Time Management

#1 - Juggler's Myth: It's more efficient to multi-task.

  • Truth: Focusing on one thing at a time can improve productivity. In fact, numerous studies have shown that multi-tasking can actually be dangerous to your health. The truth is, it is better to concentrate on the right thing than a lot of things. Focus and prioritizing are key.

#2 - Complexity Myth: The more complex the time management system the better.

  • Truth: The best time management system is often the one that you tailor for yourself. Keep it simple and executable. Just do it.

#3 - Superhuman Myth: "It's easier to do it myself" also known as "I can do it all!"

  • Truth: It isn't (easier to do it myself) and I can't. It is sometimes easier to think that we can do it all ourselves, but we can't and we shouldn't. Make time to communicate, ask for help if you need it, and utilize the talents and strengths of those around you. And, if you delegate, be clear about expectations and review procedures and deadlines.

#4 - Treadmill Myth: Running the "treadmill" is good for my health.

  • Truth: It is important to build in time for rest and relaxation. Running the treadmill can have consequences if we don't make time to rest. We all have to remember to step off of the treadmill. Make yourself a priority - build in personal time.

#5 - Busy-ness Myth: I don't have time to manage my time.

  • Truth: Successful people make time to manage their time - it is the key to balance and success. In fact, the Mayo clinic reports that managing your time can lower stress, increase sense of control, increase job satisfaction and improve quality of life. Make the time - you'll feel better for it!

5 Simple Rules for Successful Time Management

  1. Keep priorities in mind - maintain a current list of "big picture" goals/priorities; utilize this list to establish weekly and daily priorities. Know your priorities - keep your priorities in front of you - and set yourself up for success by breaking them into smaller, actionable steps.

  2. Create a checklist - put priorities in the form of a checklist; check items off of your list when you complete them. As an extra motivational step, build in a reward when you complete difficult tasks.

  3. Set aside time for planning - it doesn't take a lot of time to manage our time. Take 5-10 minutes at the end of each week, 2 minutes at the end of each day and 2 minutes at the beginning of each day. It's an investment that will pay off.

  4. Protect blocks of time - what is the time of day when you are most creative and fresh? Schedule this "prime time" for completing difficult projects or for engaging in creative work (e.g., planning for meetings, writing a presentation, creating a new program, etc.). Do your best to protect this time - mark it in your calendar and honor it to the best of your ability. Others will learn to do the same.

  5. Keep your work area clear - establish a goal to touch each piece of information one time - read it, save or delete it, file it in the appropriate place. Have piles of paper that are stacked up in your office? An e-mail folder that needs reorganizing or clearing out? Go after a small piece at a time - 5 minutes each day and some determination is a winning combination. Set realistic goals for yourself, write them down and stick with it - one goal at a time.

Most importantly, be optimistic and have confidence that managing your time will enhance your feelings of health and success. Focus on 1-2 suggestions that you can begin implementing today. Have a plan for managing your time and reset when necessary. Reward yourself for small steps - knowing that you are supporting your success and well-being. I once heard a time management guru say: the bad news is that time flies - the good news are the pilot.

Take 10 minutes and start today. Just do it!

© Kathy Sturgis, Ph.D. Kathy is founder of Refreshment Zone and is an organizational and personal development specialist with a doctorate in communication. Contact for more information.

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