The Heart of Time Management

Everything feels urgent to a person without priorities.

You master life when you master time management.

When everything is a priority, you run around with your hair on fire.

Time management begins with knowing what's important. Image of a daily planner.

The heart of time management:

One simple question is the heart of time management. What is your priority today? The question takes several forms.

  1. What’s the one thing you must complete today?
  2. When this day is over, what will you be proud you did? (Think beyond day-to-day urgencies.)
  3. What commitment do you have that enables you to say no?
  4. Where will you focus your best time and energy today?
  5. What’s important today?

A new agenda item:

You can’t manage time until you know what’s important.

In weekly team meetings ask, “What are your priorities this week?” In one-on-ones ask, “What are your priorities?”

Meetings that focus on last week’s performance are half done. What are next week’s priorities?

When people list 10 or 15 priorities, they don’t have priorities.

When someone declares a priority, it’s permission for others to ask about it. How are you doing with your priorities this week?

Anything that displaces a priority is valued more than a priority. What would you say to someone who displaces meaningful work with low-impact activity?

Putt off low impact activities so you can do what matters. Image of a squirrel.

Why time management takes courage:

It takes courage to say everything isn’t a priority today. I wonder if leaders are afraid to identify priorities because they have to do everything.

Priorities rank to-dos. Do you have courage to say most of the important things on your list aren’t a priority today?

Leaders who lack priorities carry to-dos forward for weeks. Anything on your to-do list that’s been there for a month or two needs to be erased. Forget about it.

A priority is something that best expresses mission, vision, and values today.

What makes time management so challenging?

How do you set priorities?

More practical suggestions:

Successful Time Management isn’t about Getting More Done

Multitasking Makes you Stupid: Single-Tasking is Smarter

20 Time Management Tips for Professionals