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Mastering The Art Of Time Management – A Comprehensive Guide

Written by: Erwin Wils, Executive Contributor


Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 


Time management is an art, a complex jigsaw puzzle where each piece represents a task, an activity, or a moment of respite. It's about making the most of the 24 hours we are granted each day, ensuring that every second counts. Like any art, time management requires practice, technique, and a touch of creativity. With this in mind, I present a collection of strategies that will guide you on your journey to becoming a master of your time.


Young businessman using a laptop in a office environment.

7 Tips on Mastering Time Management Skills


1. Establishing Your Weekly Action Planner (WAP)


The first strategy on our list is the Weekly Action Planner (WAP), a customizable tool that transforms the abstract concept of time into tangible, manageable chunks. The WAP is not merely an agenda filled with tasks but a template partitioned into time blocks dedicated to specific types of activities.


Imagine your week as a blank canvas. Each stroke of paint is a block of time—whether an hour or two—dedicated to different facets of life such as sleep, quality time, business activities, or responding to messages. Activities like writing a blog, calling prospects, or updating your website all fall under the "working on your business" brushstroke.


"Responding" could involve replying to emails, voicemails, or social media messages, while "quality time" might include meditation, reading, socializing, or spending time with loved ones. The WAP is your palette, ready to be filled with the hues of your life.


Applying the WAP helps you to focus your attention and energy. Within a certain time slot, you only need to focus on a particular type of activity, knowing you have other time slots to take care of the other activities. For instance, you could record your voicemail message that you’re not able to take the call, but you will return their call first business day in your “responding” time slot. That way, you can turn of your phone when you need to focus.


Remember, transitioning to a WAP takes time. Don't punish yourself for not getting it right, right off the bat. Get used to its rhythm. Make it your constant companion as you develop this new habit of self-discipline. Set calendar alerts to check your WAP periodically to guide your focus. When you align your activities with your time blocks, time management becomes less of a chore and more of a habit that serves your needs and helps you reach your goals.


2. Segmenting Tasks into Bite-sized Chunks


A cousin of the WAP is the practice of breaking down your to-do list into 30-to 60-minute tasks. Initially, it may look like your list is extended, but in reality, this segmentation will enable you to breeze through tasks with newfound efficiency.


For instance, updating your website may sit on your to-do list for a year as a single, monolithic task. However, by dividing it into smaller, manageable chunks, such as—updating one web page at a time, or just your bio, or choosing new images, or checking and correcting links—you can create a roadmap that will help you complete the project in a matter of weeks, rather than months or the year.


3. Creating a Not-To-Do List


Just as important as a to-do list is a not-to-do list, or as I like to call it, a "toodeloo list." This is a catalogue of energy-draining activities that you consciously choose to avoid. Anything that saps your energy and hampers your productivity deserves a spot on your toodeloo list.


For instance, a fellow coach who likes to explore new ventures discovered he doesn’t like discussing his business at social events, because other people’s fears and negative feedback drained his energy. His solution? Adding "discussing business at social events" to his toodeloo list, freeing up mental energy and making social interactions more enjoyable.


4. Energizing Your Time Management


One aspect of time management that often goes unnoticed is energy management. Aligning tasks with your natural energy levels can significantly boost productivity. If you are most energetic in the mornings, use this time to focus on business development, saving lower-energy tasks like responding to messages for the day's end.


5. Make strategic choices


Since time management is about energy management, you want to make sure to spend your time and energy on the right tasks. The next quadrant might help you making strategic decisions:

High Urgency

High Importance

(HU-HI)


Low Urgency

High Importance

(LU-HI)



High Urgency

Low Importance

(HU-LI)


Low Urgency

Low Importance

(LU-LI)


The urgency of a task is with regards to time (deadlines), the importance of a task is with regards to your priorities:

  • HU-HI tasks: these tasks should be finished as soon as possible. It is of high importance for you and it has a high urgency, because of some deadline approaching. You need to finish these tasks with the highest priority.

  • HU-LI tasks: these tasks have a high urgency for other people, not for you. You need to consider whether or not you should take up these tasks. Look at the bigger picture. When you help another person finish this task, will that benefit you in the bigger picture? Don’t make someone else’s urgency your problem.

  • LU-LI tasks: these tasks are a waste of time. It’s not important for you, and there is no urgency whatsoever. Skip these tasks!

  • LU-HI tasks: these are your best tasks. It is important to you, and there is no urgency yet, so you don’t have to stress out.

Ideally, you keep your tasks in the Low Urgency – High Importance quadrant. If you don’t, they will get into the HU-HI quadrant and you have no other choice than to deliver.


6. Incorporating the ABC List and ADE Principle


Our next strategy involves creating an ABC list and applying the ADE (Automate, Delegate, Eliminate) principle.


For a week, list all your daily tasks and categorize them as follows:

  • A: Activities you love and could do all day.

  • B: Tasks you don't mind doing, but wouldn't mind if someone else did them.

  • C: Tasks you dislike and find yourself still doing.

Once you have created this list, monitor the time you spend with each task. You might discover that a considerable amount of your time is consumed by category C tasks. These tasks not only eat up your time but also drain your energy, as they require more mental effort. What you want is to have all your activities fall into category A. This is where the ADE principle comes in.


Automate, Delegate, Eliminate (ADE) is an effective tool for managing category C tasks:

  • Automate: Any repetitive task has the potential to be automated. Utilizing technology or creating systems can save you valuable time.

  • Delegate: Tasks that you dislike might be enjoyable for others. Delegation not only frees up your time but also empowers your team members.

  • Eliminate: If a task cannot be automated or delegated, and it provides little to no value, consider removing it from your workflow entirely.

What I noticed, is that a lot of tasks people take for granted and don’t see the potential for optimization. Here’s such an example: two business partners spent a lot of time having frequent job interviews due to a high employee turnover. They had about 4 to 5 interviews per week, each one lasting for 60-90 minutes. Both attended the interviews and took about 30 minutes to introduce themselves, the company and their vision, mission, and core values. I proposed to automate that part of the process by creating a corporate video. This video introduced the business partners, their company and expectations for them. I also suggested that each applicant should watch the video before the interview, so that their first question would be: “Did you watch the video?” If the answer was yes, they could continue. When the answer was no, the applicant wasn’t interested enough, and they could end the interview directly. These simple adjustments saved them over 4 hours a week that they were previously spending repeating the same information.


7. Combining Strategies for Mastering Time Management


The true power of these strategies lies in their combination. Integrating the Weekly Action Planner with task segmentation, energy management, making strategic choices, toodeloo lists, ABC lists, and the ADE principle can revolutionize your approach to time management.


All in all, remember this: time management is not about squeezing as many tasks as possible into your day, it's about making strategic decisions that align your activities with your energy levels, personal preferences, and business needs. It's about painting the canvas of your week with strokes that reflect the best version of yourself, one where you own your time, and every second is a testament to your mastery of this art.


Time, like a canvas, once painted upon, cannot be changed. We can only strive to make our next stroke better, our next decision more strategic, our next moment more meaningful. In the end, time management is about managing life. Need some help with that? Just contact me.


Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and visit my website for more info!



 

About the author:

Erwin Wils is a mindset and business strategist. As a Master of Science in Electrical engineering by education and a Certified Professional Hypnotherapist, Master Soulkey Therapist, EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing) and IEMT (Integral Eye Movement Therapy) practitioner by training, Wils brings 25+ years of experience to show his clients how they can use their talents and expertise to make a positive impact in the world and make a good living doing so. He is all about being authentic and loves to inspire people. His motto: "Where there's a Wils, a better way will be."

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