I have had a passion for time management and productivity for as long as I can remember. It has always fascinated me. The ability to take action, reach your goals, and accomplish your dreams is directly related to your daily choices. You daily choices is directly attached to how you handle your time. How you handle your time is linked closely to how you lead yourself. How you lead yourself tells me whether or not you have the ability to lead others.
In wanting to make the most of my time on this earth, I have read just about everything out there on time management. Some of the books that influence me the most include:
Beyond reading books, I have used many day planners and online task management
systems in my day. Probably too many to list, but here are the ones that I used for the longest periods of time.
While each of these have taught me some important principles about time management, I have found that all of them can be summed up in 4 words. Until you master these 4 principles, time management will elude you. While it is great for you to use a piece of software to assist you, time management is more about “self management” in these 4 areas. Make them each a habit and you will get more done. All of time management can be summed up in these 4 words:
I also fundamentally believe that time management is driven by personality type. You never hear anyone talking about this. I am waiting for the day when someone launches a book series that lasers in on time management for certain personalities. Cholerics often work best in a very structured time management approach. Sanguines need a free spirit, yet structured procrastination approach. Regardless, these 4 habits are needed for any personality type even though the application might be a bit different. Use your personality type in the way that God made you to develop these 4 habits.
The Collection Habit
– You must develop the habit of collecting everything. every idea, thought, project, or errand must be captured. It is normally a good idea to find different ways of capturing important items with the ultimate goal of them falling into the same “collection bucket.”
This is why I personally love Evernote. I can capture a webpage, send an email, write down a task in ZenDone, or take a picture of my whiteboard and it all ends up at the same place. While having a tool to do this is nice, you still have to develop the habit.
The Process Habit – This has always been harder for me to conquer. Because I am not a super structured person I often try to avoid anything that looks like “details.” My email inbox can easily get out of hand. Still, this is a needed habit for you to do. If all you do is “collect” you will soon be drowning in information.
Develop a processing habit is important. Whether that is just scanning over your list as it is taught in the AutoFocus system or separating out your tasks as taught in Getting Things Done, there is still a need at some level to process the information you collect.
The Do Habit – If you need help in this area, read Do the Work and you will have plenty of inspiration. The bottom line is that you need to develop the daily habit of taking massive action if you are ever going to accomplish anything in life.
The Review Habit – At some point you have to take a 10,000 foot view of what is going on. You have to climb up the tree to see if you are still going in the right direction. For me, the review habit happens on Sunday nights. I look over all of the backlog and decide what my focus will be for the week. I also place items in the Someday bucket because it is just not the right timing for me to be doing it.
There you go. To me, these are the 4 habits you need to divide and conquer all your stuff. Sure, go ahead and pick a time management system
that works for you, but in the end, it really comes down to you.
What have you learned about yourself when it comes to time management?