The way to optimize your time so that you can achieve your goals is in the ability to do what is the most important action to take at a given time.
Just getting up in the morning and doing what others have decided you should do will help achieve their goals and not yours.
Even “to-do lists” if not properly planned will not be all that helpful.
First, you need to set your goals. Remember that this includes both business and personal goals.
For action planning purposes, list the goals that need action in the next twelve months. Then, prioritize the goals.
For each of these goals, write down the action steps together with start and end times wherever possible.
It is best to review the long-term goals quarterly to ensure progress and make any adjustments as needed.
You should do your planning weekly. Your appointments that have already been fixed will be inserted into your planning document first.
Then review the activities of your previous week. For those that need further action, update time slots into your plan.
Once you have taken care of the daily and weekly commitments, then review the actions that you listed to achieve your goals. Insert those that are planned to start in the week for which you are planning. In this way, both short-term and long-term activities can be planned for effective handling.
The magic of documenting your weekly plan is the first victory towards actually getting down to action. When activities are not committed to a plan, it is very easy to give in to urgent short-term matters and ignore the important activities that impact your long-term goals.
The next important step is to fix time daily to review how you have progressed.
This can be the end of the day or early in a day. Make the necessary adjustments based on the progress made.
The question now will be what happens to “to-do lists”. Instead of having a “to-do list” that never seems to finish, spread your action items across the days.
You will have an idea of how much time you have left in a day so that you can plan what you can practically finish within each day.
This way you can get a sense of accomplishment as you complete your planned work, instead of the frustration of a never-ending “to-do list”.
If you finish your planned activities for the day, you can always pull forward actions planned for the subsequent days. If you cannot complete it, then when you do your daily review, make the necessary adjustments to the following days to fill in these activities.
As you complete your activities, check them off.
Indicate activities that are transferred. Activities can also be dropped and these must also be noted. There is a sense of satisfaction and control as you carry this out in a disciplined manner.
You may think that this is very restrictive. What about priority activities that come up during the day? When this happens, it makes sense to do what is most important at that moment in time. When you do your daily review, you then make the necessary adjustments to get back on track.
With this organized method of planning, acting, and reviewing, you will find that you can get a lot more things done.
Importantly, you will also be working towards your long-term goals as well, instead of just working on your day-to-day activities.
One other technique that successful people use is to include affirmations in their daily life. An affirmation is a word or phrase you use to remind yourself of the way you want to be.
Examples of affirmations will be “Celebrate Life” and “Do It Now”. Affirmations must represent something important to you. Repeat many times daily to reinforce it. It is a good idea to write your affirmations on your daily planning pages.
Why is this method very effective? Consider past actions, present actions, and future actions. Future actions can only be controlled indirectly.
Past actions are gone and totally outside your control. The only thing you can control is your present actions. Others can influence you but only you can control your action at a moment in time.
The only way, then, to optimize your time is to use each moment on the best possible action that you can be taking at that moment.