End procrastination!

Apr 25 2006 by Jim Bird Print This Article

In today's choice-challenged environment, the absence of time management skills can leave you feeling overwhelmed in your everyday life. Your most vital to do's - the ones that will create the most value and balance in your life - are often put off in a perpetual "as soon as" trap.

Here are four easy-to-use time management techniques that will end procrastination and put you back in control.

1. Use a planner of a size that you can keep with you at all times

If you regularly use a planner, you know how valuable this is for time management. If you have never used a planner, or started but didn't stay with it, please listen up. I don't sell planners or own stock in any planner companies. This is objective advice gathered from measured statistics with tens of thousands of clients. Of all time management techniques, this one alone will end procrastination, reduce stress, and add value and balance to your life.

One of the best time management techniques is to buy either a paper planner/calendar with one to two pages for each day or an electronic planner.

One or two pages per day give you the room to write not only your scheduled items for the day but notes for each meeting, directions, and other comments relevant to your day.

Write everything in one place, your planner. Do not write an appointment in your calendar, the phone number on a napkin, and the directions on a notepad. That's Stress City. When you are rushing out to that appointment, you won't be able to put your hands on all those things. Have them all in one place - your planner.

2. Throw away your to do list

Delete it from your computer. To do lists are an out of date time management tool. They create inefficiencies and add to your frustration and stress in life.

But before you throw your to do list away, you need to do one very important thing. Take a couple of seconds on each item and ask yourself the magic question that ends procrastination, "When am I going to do this?"

"I have to do meeting planning in the morning, this phone call to a client I'll do on Thursday, taking some additional college classes I don't intend to do until fall - I'll put that down in early August to check out." Then for the best time management, transfer each item from your to do list to a day in your planner/calendar when you intend to do it or start it.

And don't transfer your entire To Do List until tomorrow, a poor time management technique. Breaking it down by days takes what is often an overwhelming list and sorts it by time into manageable segments.

When you get to the day for doing it, act on it Ė or again, at least start it. When new events of the day try and crowd out what you had planned to do, ask yourself, "Is this new item more important to do today than what I had planned?" If so, do it. If not, stick to what you had planned and write down the new item on a future day in your calendar.

And don't be stressed out by having to transfer planned items to another day because higher priorities come along. The act of transferring is motivational and serves a time management purpose. After you've transferred something three or four times, you will say to yourself, "Am I ever going to do this?"

Sometimes you'll answer NO, this isn't that important, and you'll delete it. More often you'll say, I'm tired of transferring this, and you'll find the time to get it started that day. That motivation created by transferring becomes one of your valuable time management techniques.

3. Every time you decide to do something in the future, take three additional seconds and answer the magic question, "When am I going to do it?"

If you're driving home from work and you think, "I really want to call my Mom," or "I need to get that report to my boss soon," or "I want to take my spouse out on a special date," don't write it on a to do list. Take a couple more seconds and ask yourself, "When am I going to do that?" Then immediately write it down on the specific day in your planner that you intend to do it.

The best thinking and best intentions will not help with overall time management unless you make a commitment in time when you are going to do something about them.

4. You've got a planner, so use it! Open it up every day.

At least 80 percent of the value of any planner system for time management comes from only two things. When you decide to do something, immediately writing it down on the day you intend to do it AND opening up your planner everyday.

If you will do these two things, you are getting at least 80 percent of the value of the planner, and for some more than 100 percent of the value.

Why more than 100 percent? Because some planner companies try and sell you so many pages or functions full of bells and whistles that your planner becomes overcomplicated and burdensome, and you quit using it as one of your time management techniques.

Immediately writing down your activities on a daily page and opening your planner up every morning will greatly reduce procrastination and increase the achievement and enjoyment levels in your life.

Simple time management techniques that produce powerful results. Why not try them out?


About The Author

Jim Bird
Jim Bird

Jim Bird is the founder and CEO of WorkLifeBalance.com, a specialist in time management and related work-life balance, leadership and stress management training. Since 1991, he has worked with some of the world's largest organizations to achieve their most critical business objectives.