Is your to-do list longer than your day? Time management is not about managing time. Time is a constant, and it does not change. The only thing that we have the ability to change is the management of ourselves. So, if it’s the end of the day and you’re only halfway through your to-do list, it’s time to examine and advance your self-management skills and systems.
Efficient vs. Effective
Are you efficient as opposed to being effective? Are there some days that you get through your list and feel like you haven’t been productive, and other days when you complete only two or three items and feel very accomplished? Those two or three tasks were, therefore, the most important. These are the tasks that moved you toward your goals. These should be your priorities. Most people typically conquer the small, easy tasks first and then often run out of time to handle the more difficult and challenging tasks, which are probably the most important ones. To use your time effectively, the question to ask is, “What is the most valuable thing I can do right now?”
The 3D System
As you go through your list, make choices about what actions to take with each item. One decision-making system that works well is the 3D system – Do it, Delegate it, or Dump it.
The “Do” items are the important priority items—your priority. Do them now, and do them completely. Completion is important, as most people spend enormous amounts of time and energy on things not previously accomplished.
The second “D” is delegation. You can choose to delegate some of the important items on your list to someone else. Choose delegation when you know that someone else can effectively complete these tasks as well or better than you can. Know your strengths and surround yourself with people who are strong in your weaker areas; then delegate.
The last “D” you can choose for an item on your list is to dump it. This choice is appropriate for items that may be reappearing continuously, are not being completed, and don’t seem to matter. They may be tasks that you are doing because “it’s always been done that way.” So here is where you ask yourself, “Is there a better way?” and if so, then it is wise that you use it. If you stop doing, no one will notice some tasks, and there will be no difference. Dumping some of your tasks may surprisingly free up some of your valuable time.
So to sum this all up, the not-so-secret keys to handling your to-do list are: keep your goals and objectives in mind, be effective vs. efficient, set up systems that work for you, do complete work, and get rid of time and energy drains. Take time at the end of each day to review your accomplishments and see if you are closer to your goals.