In my coaching there is one item that comes up over and over. How to stay on top of all one’s responsibilities. How do we develop some sort of system that enables us to fulfill promises and meet deadlines and not forget or overlook anything? How do we distinguish the urgent from the important? Here are some thoughts to help all of us with this broadly felt need.
1. Psalm 90:12 “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom”
2. Eph 5: 15,16 “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise, but as wise, making the best possible use of the time because the days are evil”
There are three keys to fruitfulness in your work and ministry:
1. Personal renewal times that refresh you
2. Personal relationships that protect you
3. Personal systems that organize and focus you
I want to focus on # 3 in this post.
The essence of time management is to set priorities and then to organize and execute around them. Setting priorities requires us to think carefully and clearly about values, about ultimate concerns. These then have to be translated into long- and short- term goals and plans translated once more into schedules or time slots. Then, unless something more important — not something more urgent — comes along, we must discipline ourselves to do as we planned.
Highly effective people carry their agenda with them. Their schedule is their servant, not their master. They organize weekly, adapt daily. However, they are not capricious in changing their plan. They exercise discipline and concentration and do not submit to moods and circumstances. They schedule blocks of prime time for important planning, projects, and creative work. They work on less important and less demanding activities when their fatigue level is higher. They avoid handling paper [and email!] more than once and avoid touching paperwork [and email!] unless they plan on taking action on it.” -Steven Covey
Here are three simple and practical principles that I’m convinced will help all of us!
WRITE IT DOWN
- Get what needs to be done out of your mind and on paper or in a digital system
- Write everything in daily lists in a pre-determined system and place
- Have this “Do List” with you at all times
- Have one list with everything for the day on it; not one at home and one at work
- What you should operate with, and from, is a calendar and a “Prioritized Daily Do List”
- You should have a separate, and short, list for each day–not a long list of everything you need to do that may overwhelm you
- Only put on your daily list what absolutely has to get done that day
- Create the list first thing in the morning or the night before
- Adjust the list throughout the day adding/deleting as things get done
- At the end of the day everything that was on that list needs to be done, delegated or deferred to another day
- Never go to bed with anything left on your list; NEVER
- Organize your list into categories such as: E-mail, phone calls, projects & preparation for meetings. Try to work on similar things in blocks of time rather than bouncing from one sort of thing to another
READ WHAT YOU WRITE
- Throughout the day you should be constantly working back and forth between what’s on your calendar and what’s on your list
- You need to revisit your list constantly as your day unfolds. Make adjustments by reprioritizing, doing, delegating or deferring items to other days
DO WHAT YOU READ
- Discipline yourself to do what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, whether you feel like it or not. Work the plan you decided on in the clarity of your quiet moments of praying, thinking and planning your day and don’t be too quick to change it
- Don’t let more important things be at the mercy of less important things. Stick to what you originally wrote unless you have strong reasons not to do so
- It is better to work your way into feeling than to feel you way into working; discipline yourself to do what needs to be done and the good feelings will follow If you wait until you feel a certain way before acting, you may never get anything of lasting value done