Saturday, July 2, 2011

Tips on Staying Focused and Making the Most of Your Time

By Steve Borgman

Each of us has only so much time in the day. We all have 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. It's not wonder that the subject of time management is such a popular one. If you and I can learn to get the most out of our time, we will be learning a true wealth strategy.

Know Your Goals

If you haven't taken the time to figure out our life mission, your vision and purpose, and your goals, please take the time to do so! Once you have your goals in place, you will have the motivation to capture your time effectively. If you have no goals, there is no incentive to manage it well.

Make A List of All the Activities Needed to Accomplish Your Goals

Once you have your goals in mind, take time to write down all the activities, or milestones, for each of your goals. You may end up with a list of 5 or 10 activities. Once those activities are completed, you will have completed your goal.

I keep track of all my activities, or next actions, for each goal in an online website called Toodledo. This website is free, and it also has an iPhone app with which I can sync all my activities at any time. Whether online or offline, have one place where you can keep track of your goals and all the sub-activities that need to be completed for those goals.

Practice A Weekly Review

I find it helpful, as often as possible, to take a couple of reflective hours every Sunday to review my mission, vision/purpose, and goals. I learned from a mentor of mine to ask myself what I have accomplished, where I have fallen short, and how I can learn from both my victories and disappointments.

Then, I think about all my roles: father, husband, counselor, blogger, etc. I like to make sure that I give myself a "next action" for the upcoming week to make sure that I am staying balanced in my pursuits.

Finally, I review my activities list to plug my most important activities into my weekly schedule.

Practice Daily Planning and Review

Here's what you will do: at the end of the day, look over your activities list. Write down your 6 most important things to accomplish tomorrow. The next day, work on the most important task. Don't do anything else until that task is done. Then move on to task #2. You may only get through 3 tasks. That's ok. Take time at the end of the day the next day, and reflect on how you did with managing your time and your day. Write down your 6 most important activities for tomorrow, making sure that you include the 3 tasks left undone from the previous day. Do this every day, and you will know that you are accomplishing what is most important in your day!

Use the Pomodoro Method

This method helps us focus by taking small chunks of time to block out all distractions and do only what is in front of us. Turn off the phone, Twitter, Facebook, and anything else that gets in your way. I like to use E.ggtimer (Google it exactly as I wrote it:), the online clock, to count down from 25 minutes. At the end of the 25 minutes, I take a 5 minute break, then start another 25 minute cycle. At the end of three cycles, I reward myself with a longer 15 minute break.

Use Block Time

I'm currently working on a goal-setting e-book. My day to day life is very busy. I learned, from another mentor of mine, to carve out some block time in the weeks ahead in order to clear everything out of my schedule so that I can crank out a high volume of material. I took three vacation days off from my regular job so that I can have a lot of 2 hour blocks of time to do nothing but PRODUCE!:) During this time, as with the Pomodoro method, I will have my phone, social media, and other interruptions OFF.

I hope you find these tips helpful! If you and I practice these habits consistently, we will be amazed at how much we get done! Not only will we get things done, but we will living effectively, because the things we are getting done will be the goals we have planned for at the outset.

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