A Golden Rule of Time Management

Time Management golden ruleThe ability to say no is a skill we all need, but knowing when to say no can be even more important. This week I was reminded of one of the golden rules of time management that keeps our schedules trim and our minds focused. Here is what happened..

Saying NO

At a board meeting last week, one of my friends informed everyone of a really cool business opportunity that came her way. We were all impressed and congratulated her, until she mentioned that she wasn’t going to take it because it didn’t fit in with the mission and focus of her business. If I was impressed before, I was amazed now.

Saying no is hard. We’re trained to say yes to everything because we never know where things will lead, and at the very least, it’s a good thing to add to the resume. But after casting a wide net of opportunity, we need to focus in on the things that are most important to us, and that means saying no to the things that aren’t.

Time is a valuable resource and every moment we spend on something beyond our focus is one moment we can’t spend on the essential activities that will propel us forward.

Think of It Like Shopping

If saying no is still difficult, think of it in terms of money and shopping. If you were out shopping and saw a pair of pants you loved, but they didn’t fit, would you still buy them? Probably not, because you’d rather use the money to buy something that does fit and that you’ll actually wear. Think of your time in the same way. You have limited time and need to save it for the things that best fit  your focus and priorities.

Remember this golden rule of time management: if everything is a priority, then nothing is a priority.

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5 Questions to Ask Your Unfinished To-Do List

Time Management to-do listOh, the frustration of an unfinished to-do list! Those lingering tasks left without a satisfying check mark beside them. Before you simply roll your unfinished tasks onto tomorrow’s list, stop! Here are five questions to ask yourself when you end the day with uncompleted responsibilities.

1. Why?

What happened that left tasks lingering? Did unexpected situations pop up that took priority? Were you unfocussed? Were you working inefficiently? Taking a moment to analyze the why behind your unfinished list can help you correct the problem in the future.

2. Am I Being Realistic?

Perhaps your list remains habitually unfinished because your expectations are too high. You only have so many hours in the day and you can’t work at your peak efficiency non-stop. You’d never expect to write War and Peace in a day, but maybe that’s what you’re demanding of yourself.

3. Is Everything Necessary?
If the same tasks have lingered at the bottom of your list for weeks…and the world has kept on spinning, are they really necessary? If so, you need to make one of them a focus task for tomorrow and clear it from your plate. If not, get rid of it! Just because you’d like to do something or it might be helpful, doesn’t mean it’s necessary.

4. Have I Said No Recently?

If your list keeps piling up, are you saying “Yes” to too many tasks that don’t realistically fit in your schedule? When was the last time you said “No” to a task? Can’t think of when? Make it tomorrow.

5. What Can I Do Differently Tomorrow?

If you didn’t finish your list today, and you do everything exactly the same tomorrow…you probably won’t finish your list then either. What change will you make to produce a different result? Do you need to wake up earlier? Take an energizing walk over lunch so you’re more productive in the afternoon? Turn off Facebook so you’re more focused?

Come up with a game plan that will put you on the road to success.

Connect with The Time Diet for more time management tips