Time management: Identify the right things and do them

Time management: Identify the right things and do them

Janet’s alarm went off at 6 a.m., and she immediately felt overwhelmed. It was going to be a crazy day. She had employability skills training in the morning, a job interview over lunch, and a language assessment in the afternoon. She had scheduled an appointment with her dentist, and the company she agreed to volunteer with until she secured a job was expecting her today. There was grocery shopping to do. She peered out the window. It was raining. Janet just wanted to stay in bed.
Everyone faces times when they have too much to do and not enough time to get it done. “The biggest myth in time management,” says Peter Bregman, “is the idea that we can get it all done.” Janet acknowledged that she wouldn’t be able to fit everything she wanted to into the day. The next step was to determine the “right things” she needed to accomplish that day.
To identify the “‘right things, we need to make deliberate choices that will move us toward the outcomes we most want,” says Bregman. This also means making choices “about what not to do.” Janet needed to be strategic. Her most important objective was to secure a job. The training, interview, and volunteer engagements were all part of achieving this goal. They were the “right things.” She reviewed her other tasks and decided to reschedule her dentist appointment and ask her sister to do the grocery shopping.

The second step in doing the “right things” is actually “doing” them—following through. Janet knew that she would need to stick to her priorities and deliberately shut out other distractions. She would have to postpone long chats with friends and frequently checking social media. To be productive and stick to our priorities, Bregman says that “we need an environment that makes it more likely that we will do the things that matter most and less likely that we will waste our time with diversions.”

By the end of the day, Janet felt tired but satisfied. She had stayed focused and accomplished her most important objectives. Bregman teaches that “managing our time needs to become a ritual… an ongoing process we follow no matter what to keep us focused on our [daily] priorities.” Janet decided that she was going to keep a time diary for one week to help her identify if she was investing her time wisely. She would begin making a daily to-do list and focus on identifying the “right things” and “doing” them.

  1. Make a ritual of time management. When you get up, before you turn on your computer, or look at your phone or check Facebook or emails, set a plan for your day.
  2. Identify the right things, and do them.
  3. Review your plan throughout the day, and stay focused.
  4. Evaluate your day. What worked? Where did you get distracted? What can you do differently?

For information on workplace skills training, visit www.manitobastart.com.