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10 Habits for Controlling Your Time

by Marilyn Urso, PMN

Marilyn_articleWhat is time management? How can we manage or control our time? We all get 168 hours every week, yet some people just seem to have more time to complete their projects and reach their goals. What can you do to "get more time?"

Here are 10 tips that can put you on the path to more effective and productive habits that will give you the time you need to do the things you want to accomplish. 

1. Make a daily to-do list. The items on your list should ensure that you are moving steadily in the direction of completed projects and/or goals. Create your list at the same time daily – perhaps at day's end or the end of the workday. Then, review it first thing in the morning and adjust as needed.

Review frequently to examine how you are working and streamline or change as needed to improve efficiency and effectiveness. Prioritize the list and always do the most important items first. Crossing off items is not as important as making better use of your time.

2. Don't overschedule your day. Always have some "white space" on your calendar for unplanned and unexpected interruptions, as well as personal time to take a mental break.

Match the time of day to the project at hand. In other words, be mindful of when you’ll be at your best to tackle the particular task. Focus on what is the best use of your time, and don’t get bogged down on low-value items.

3. Do instant tasks before the big ones. This is the "Two-Minute Rule" from Getting Things Done by David Allen. If an item can be handled in two minutes or less, just do it and don’t even write it on the list.

4. Delegate when possible. Concentrate on tasks where you can personally make a difference – the tasks that only you can do. Skip the trivial tasks by asking yourself, "What will happen if I don't do this?"

5. Set deadlines for all projects and goals. Stop revising your plan, and start doing!

6. Arrange joint schedules with your partner and others to minimize interruptions and keep an effective workflow. This allows you to respect others and for them to respect your time and work schedule.

7. Use written reminders when you are interrupted in the middle of a task to avoid loss of time. Make a brief note before you address the interruption so you can pick up exactly where you left off.

8. Set up two categories for goals: work and personal. For each category, label your goals as immediate, short-term (6 months to a year) or long-term. Include a list of action steps for each goal or project, so you know how you will accomplish it.

Set a deadline for every project or goal, with the exception of the someday-maybe items (things you want to do, but not immediately). Review them all weekly and include action steps for specific activities on your to-do lists to keep each item active. Keep your long-term goals in mind even when you are doing the less important tasks.

9. Handle every paper you touch only once. This requires a great filing/organizing system, so that when you look at something, it can be only one of four things:

  • Garbage
  • Filing/reference
  • To-do now
  • Hold for future action

10. Stay focused on one task at a time. Divide your tasks into manageable pieces so you can finish each part with more ease. Try increasing your work pace to speed up the task and hold your attention better. Keep your work area clutter free to avoid the "clean it up" distraction. 

Follow these practical steps, and you will be on your way to accomplishing more of your goals in a shorter period of time.  

Marilyn_thumbnailMarilyn Urso, CRB, GREEN, GRI, PMN, SRES, has been a licensed REALTOR® since 1993 and a member of the Women's Council for most of her career. She is a NYS Licensed R.E. Associate Broker and works for Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate: Atlantic Shores in Syosset, NY.

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