My Mother’s 10 Step Cheaters Guide To Mastering Your Time

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My grandmother was a stickler for time. So was my mother. Don’t misunderstand I no longer reside with either. But their lessons resonate. Once when I was a senior in high school my mother had assigned a curfew for me at 10 p.m. To everyone within a ten mile radius of our small rural town my mother particularly was judge and jury. Visiting my girlfriend a block away I assumed since I was a senior I could steal a few more minutes from mom.  You understand what I mean. 😉 Whistling to the door, it was a very happy evening, I immediately noticed mom had locked the door. Persistent knocking would be unacceptable. Knowing any excuse would not be received as a suitable reason i.e. death and taxes, you get the point, I slept on the porch. As an entrepreneur and college professor her lessons have helped me tremendously. Punishment was not her objective. It was the value of my word and time which are both unforgiving.

The following are ten tip to help master your time, interspersed with thoughtful quotes, many of which from well known, successful individuals who have (obviously) made good use of their time.

1. Do not confuse busyness with productivity. Highly productive people are often less busy than those who are overworked and overwhelmed.

“It’s not enough to be busy, so are the ants. The question is, what are we busy about?” – Henry David Thoreau  Read more

2. Do not confuse the urgent with the important. Last-minute distractions from yourself and especially others are not necessarily priorities.

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“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.” – Steve Jobs  Read more

“If you want to make good use of your time, you’ve got to know what’s most important and then give it all you’ve got.” – Lee Iacocca

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3. The key to time management is self-management.

“The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.” – Michael Altshuler

4. Remember the 80/20 rule of time management, which tells us that 80 percent of the importance of what we do in any given day lies in only twenty percent of the activities. Therefore, if you focus on accomplishing the top twenty percent of the most important tasks, you will feel more productive and satisfied at the end of the day.  Read more

“One man gets only a week’s value out of a year while another man gets a full year’s value out of a week.” – Charles Richards

“I get paid not by how many hours I work, but by the importance of the problems I solve.” – Anonymous

5. Use a good day planner. The best ones give you at least one full page (or screen) per day, with space allocated for each working hour of the day.

“I must govern the clock, not be governed by it.” – Golda Meir

6. Separate obligatory time from discretionary time. In your day planner, block out all the times when you’re committed to others to be at a certain place at a certain time, such as meetings, conferences and other appointments. What’s not your obligatory time is your discretionary time. This is the time you can manage.

“Realize that now, in this moment of time, you are creating. You are creating your next moment. That is what’s real.” – Sara Paddison

7. List: At the beginning of each day, write down a bullet-point list of everything you would like to accomplish this day.

“Make use of time, let not advantage slip.” – William Shakespeare

“This time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson Read more

8. Prioritize: Next to each bullet-point item, assign an “A” if this is a “must do” item for today, a “B” for “should do” and a “C” for “could do.” For large projects, break it down into small parts and prioritize. Divide-and-conquer

“For every minute spent organizing, an hour is earned.” – Benjamin Franklin

“The key is in not spending time, but in investing it.” – Stephen R. Covey

9. Implement: Focus on accomplishing your “A” list with your discretionary time. Check off each item as it’s complete. With this system, even if you only accomplish twenty percent of your entire list for the day, you still would have accomplished eighty percent of the most important work.

“Until we can manage time, we can manage nothing else.” – Peter F. Drucker

10. What you don’t finish today, transfer to your list for tomorrow and reprioritize.

In conclusion, when we manage our time wisely, we can be at our productive best, so we can enjoy life more and rest!

“Time equals life; therefore, waste your time and waste of your life, or master your time and master your life.” – Alan Lakein

Adapted from Psychology Today.

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Jim Woods is president of The Jim Woods Group. A management consulting firm. Go here to see his work He advises and speaks to organizations large and small on how to increase top line growth in times of uncertainty and complexity. Some of his speaking and consulting clients include: U.S. Army, MITRE Corporation, Pitney Bowes, Whirlpool, and 3M. See more at his website

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