In similar vein as Victor Frankl’s paradigm shifting book, “Unbroken” is a fascinating and mind-bending narrative that will change the way you think about everything – forever.
It’s a tale of unbridled optimism, unshakeable belief, and remarkable courage. A ground-breaking work along the lines of ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’.
It is the life story of Louis Zamperini, a typical teenage troublemaker who discovers his hidden talent for long distance running and dreams of Olympic glory, or even breaking the 4 minute mile – before World War 2 breaks, wafting him along a different path to his destiny.
Laura Hillenbrand’s gripping narrative is of a style and class that’s rare and precious.
Shows how unimportant and insignificant things really are
Creates urgency – there may not be a ‘tomorrow’
Recalls pleasant memories of the departed one’s life
Makes you pause and reflect on your own life – seriously
Proves you have a lot to be grateful for – like being alive
Forces you to accept that you are human – and will be gone some day
These were thoughts that ran through my mind today as I drove back home from the funeral of a colleague who worked with me for a little over ten years, treating little kids with congenital heart defects.
How Simple, Effective Time Management Techniques Can Streamline Your Work & Save 3 Hours (Or More) Every Day
Your time management worksheet can be a powerful tool in planning your day and focusing your attention, if you learn to use it correctly. One of the most effective time management techniques is to pick your 6 top tasks for the day and get them done without distractions or delays. A worksheet can help you achieve this goal consistently and without stress.
As Napoleon Hill famously said, “If you don’t control your thoughts and mind, someone else will.” It applies to time also. Either you decide how to spend your time, or others will do it for you. And one of the best ways you can take control of your work day is to have a time management worksheet that you fill up and follow regularly.
When your focus is intense and laser-like, you get more things done. That isn’t the difficult part. It’s identifying the core areas in which you must focus for the greatest impact over the long term. Sure, something might sound urgent and important at the moment. But when you think about it later, after you’ve wasted fruitless hours putting out the fire, you’ll realize it hasn’t taken you closer to your goal!
That’s where a time management worksheet comes in handy. By forcing you to consciously allot time to the most relevant and important areas in your life, it ensures that you will be working on areas that matter – and ignore the rest. To enhance and refine your focus, you may tune out distractions like the phone and email. But without a proper guide to nudge you along the right path, the time you saved on one activity will only be wasted on another.
Make Your List of 6 Things
Making a list of your important tasks and assigning them a priority based on how they compare against others on the list is a core essential of the Time Management Tao approach. It keeps you stress-free and oriented as you navigate the busy waters of your typical day.
The key component to making this work is limiting the items on your ‘must do’ list to no more than 6 things. In your time management worksheet, assign specific periods for competing these 6 activities alone, and you’ll be well along the path to greater efficiency and less stress.
How to do this?
Look at your daily to-do list, which has already been organized by priority. Take the 6 most important items on this list and draw up an estimate of how long it will take to get them done. Your top 6 tasks shouldn’t take up more than 6 hours, if you are to have a fair shot at getting them done. That’s because there will inevitably be some unexpected emergencies or time wasters that crop up in the course of your day. You’ll have to make allowance for them, and still have six hours to focus on your top tasks.
Draw Up Your Time Management Worksheet
Once you’ve drawn up this estimate, insert them into your time management worksheet which will allot specific time slots for each item. For more complex tasks or projects, you may assign multiple slots at different times of the day.
For example, if you need to get feedback or further information from someone before you can proceed on a task, then slot in the first action of asking for those details in the morning, and then block out a chunk of time later in the day for completing the work once you have what you need.
Here’s a very basic sample time management worksheet:
08:00 – 09:00 – Phone calls to prospective buyers
09:00 – 11:00 – Work on XYZ Corp project proposal
11:00 – 11:30 – Email client AR asking for specifications
11:30 – 12:00 – Lunch break
12:00 – 12:30 – Replying to email and phone calls
12:30 – 13:30 – Review marketing plan for BM campaign
13:30 – 14:00 – Link building for client RB
14:00 – 16:00 – Work on client AR’s project
16:00 – 16:30 – Replying to email
16:30 – 17:00 – Wind up, plan tomorrow schedule
Make It a Habit
While even occasional use of a time management worksheet can create remarkable results, the real power of managing your time using this tool comes when you make it a part of your system that you follow regularly. It takes time and discipline to make it a habit, but the results are well worth the effort.
When you plan your following day every evening at the end of your work day, fill up your time management worksheet with relevant notes – but keep it flexible enough to adapt to the evolving needs of your day. If some pressing task crops up that requires your attention, keep enough time available to handle it without compromising on your most important activities.
Combined with intelligent delegation and decisive action in turning down responsibilities that are not taking you closer to your goals, you will transform your effectiveness and discover extra hours in your crowded schedule… and do this without getting over-stressed or frustrated. That’s the true benefit of a Time Management Tao approach that is based upon learning how to:
We dive deeper into these issues in the Ming Vase Time Management series of guides, and you can also receive tips about saving time and boosting your efficiency by subscribing to our free email newsletter – the “Time Taozine” – just fill in the simple registration form below.
To learn time management skills, you should think about it like taking a long trip. Just as you’ll enjoy some lovely views, experience some setbacks and risks, even encounter an adventure or two along the way, you’ll find it a rough, uneven path to learn time management.
No matter what you learn, or who teaches you, it eventually boils down to whether or not you are serious about managing your time, and how much effort you will put into practice. Once you are aware of how you use your time, and know about setting priorities, focusing on important work, and getting things done, you will be on the fast track to time management success.
Strategies to Help Learn Time Management
Many students, managers and employees learn time management to grow in their career, develop good habits, and enjoy financial rewards from better managing their time. They have found a strategy helpful in internalizing whatever they learned.
First, study new time management concepts.
Second, practice it in day to day life.
Third, repeat the process for a new skill or technique.
Here are some time management ideas you can start to work with.
1. Block off time for work and breaks
Planning your day by assigning blocks of time for specific activities can be very helpful. For instance, you might set aside an hour every evening after you return from school, college or work, during which you will carry out one of the important tasks on your list.
That time should not be wasted on anything else. It is a sacred promise you make to yourself. And keeping that promise takes highest priority in your life. You will soon make it a helpful habit, and by setting yourself blocks during which to tackle specific activities, you’ll grow in efficiency.
2. Dedicate a place to work
Distractions and interruptions can derail your best laid plans. It is important to have a place that is free from distraction, where people know not to disturb you. It may be at home, in the office, or even somewhere else. Just make sure not to allow anyone to interrupt you while you work on your tasks.
3. Review progress
A weekly audit of your activities will quickly reveal whether or not you are staying on track. As you learn time management and master new tricks and tweaks, you might get off target trying to implement everything, and fall behind on reaching your goals. A review of progress every week or so can show you where you need to focus and can get you back on track quickly.
4. Prioritize assignments
Starting with the biggest, hardest or most time consuming task is a way to ensure that you’ll deal with it when you’re fresh. But make sure that what you address is really important to your overall goals. You’ll have to stay flexible enough to allow for unexpected events in your day, but by setting priorities correctly, you’ll ensure that the most important tasks get done anyway.
5. Postpone unnecessary activities
It can be frustrating to learn time management, especially when you find it takes away from some entertainment and relaxation. When friends and family go off to have fun, it can be hard to turn down their invitation to concentrate on important work. But only if you postpone unnecessary activities will you ever be able to get what matters done.
These are simple principles that you’ll hear about when you learn time management. But practicing them, and then incorporating them into your lifestyle can be challenging and difficult, in the beginning. Persevere and stick with it, and soon you’ll be living the 3 tenets of Time Management Tao, which are:
When I built my first website in 1995 on Geocities, it was about a subject I was passionate. Congenital heart defects. In a month, on average, the site had 8 visitors. I didn’t care. Mine was a labor of love.
A talent scout for About.com (then The Mining Company) found me, invited me to write for About.com’s heart disease section, and I was soon making what seemed like a royal income for a post-grad in India.
I cringe when I hear newbies being advised to start out with cold-blooded calculations of niche profitability, audience metrics and other ‘marketing speak’ – with scarcely any consideration to what matters most… their PASSION.
Where’s YOUR fire?
That’s what will keep burning, simmering or smoldering, and make you stick with whatever you do.
That’s the unique ingredient no one else can mimic, copy or replicate, making you and your work distinct.
That’s the ‘secret recipe’ that virtually guarantees that you’ll end up with influence and retain the attention of your audience.
Everyone would love time management tips free. And contrary to other freebies, the free tips thrown out by experienced time managers could easily transform the way you manage your schedule and beat the clock.
One of the most effective time management tips freely given to me had to do with handling email. It introduced the concept of one-touch management of paper/email/fax.
Stop and think for a minute before you read further… How many times do you look at an email message, or letter, or faxed note?
If you answered “More than once”, you’re wasting time!
A critical time saving skill is learning how to deal with information – with one touch. If you look at an email or letter or fax, quickly decide how to deal with it – respond, trash or file for future action.
As you grow better at this skill, you’ll put fewer message in the ‘act later’ folder, and decide then and there what to do with it. And if you effectively delegate your work, you’ll soon have someone else doing it for you!
That’s one of the powerful time management tips free for members at Time Management Tao. Here’s another.
Stick to schedules for email, forums, online (and phone) chat as well as other electronic discussions. One of the biggest time wasting distractions for anyone working on the Internet is email, and participation on forums and discussion groups.
Don’t get me wrong. This kind of networking is critical to getting things done. But only a few people using these immensely powerful tools use them correctly, efficiently, effectively.
Think about how you use these online communication media. How much time in your working day do you spend on your email? On discussion forums? On email lists?
More important, how do you schedule such activity (if you do it at all)? Do you chunk out time blocks to work on them? Or do you do them during breaks from more productive work?
Or are you hanging around forums most of your time online?
Too many people find themselves caught in this time-trap. Spending far too much time on email and forum discussions. So stop – abruptly. There’s one of the very effective time management tips free for you.
You’ll find it incredible to see how much time you now have to spend on the more important activities. No longer will you have to put off mportant work because it needed time to execute and you don’t have enough of it. From the time you spare from discussion boards and email, you’ll be able to set up a structure which would bring long term results and take you closer to your goals.
On Time Management Tao and in the free “Time Taozine” email newsletter, you’ll get time management tips free to use and benefit from. For greater detail, you might check out the Ming Vase Time Management guides as well.
How nice it would be to always view the world through the awe-struck, innocent, curious eyes of a child!
And how often we are incurious about the most common stuff – that we really don’t understand at all.
This morning, I was reading my daughter’s book. It was about the ‘POST’. Yes, how letters and parcels get mailed and delivered across the world.
Surely you’ve posted letters to international destinations? You seal the envelope, stick a stamp and drop it into the mailbox.
But have you wondered about what pays for it to be delivered?
Your stamp covers the cost of delivering your letter. You paid for the stamp in your country. Your letter gets delivered by a postman in ANOTHER country.
How does that postman get paid? How does your payment for a stamp translate into paying the postman in another country?
I’ll admit I’ve never been curious about that! And learned the answer in the book I read today. It was eye-opening.
“All postal services are members of an international organization called the Universal Postal Union. Each member delivers post paid for and sent from overseas free of charge. This expense is balanced by the fact that they don’t have to pay for the delivery of items they send overseas.”
Ok, maybe this kind of curiosity isn’t quite important.
But curious people often have influence – because they are curious enough to push the envelope, explore the uncertain, question the traditional.
And in the process, they uncover information that is entertaining, or informative, revolutionary or profitable, or even world-changing.
Someone asked me for time management tips and techniques that have the highest potential to transform the success of everyone who uses them. Looking back on the Time Management Tao system of being more efficient and effective, it is obvious that two techniques are far more effective than others. So we’ll discuss them in this report.
Concentration, in its truest, unadulterated form, means the ability to focus the mind on one single solitary thing.
The hardest thing anyone has to learn over years is to stay focused on a few key things at any given time. There were times when I juggled 20 different projects online, in addition to a full-time professional schedule at work! What ensued was sub-optimal performance in most areas.
It is often not apparent – until you start to radically scale down things you’re involved in. I make it a rule to manage no more than 3 projects at a time, and restrict other activities to manageable chunks spread out over the year. While this approach might mean you’ll spend less time on each activity than before, your results will improve massively.
This is one of the most effective time management tips and techniques I’ve learned (and taught) over the years. Yes, if you stay focused and concentrate on a few things, you’ll achieve more in each. Truly, less is more.
Ok, now here’s another of my favorite time management tips and techniques. It is a somewhat controversial area for many who argue that chaos and clutter helps creativity and that meticulous organization stifles all fun and excitement. “Orderliness is the sign of a sick mind!”, they claim.
Viewed from a productivity angle, however, it quickly becomes clear that a disorganized work space will waste time, lower efficiency and increase stress.
Have things easily available. Don’t waste time searching for them. Studies have estimated the average knowledge worker is wasting around 15 minutes every day looking for things – and that’s a minimum. Still, it adds up to 1.5 hours a week – or 75 hours a year!
That’s what makes this one of the most powerful time management tips and techniques. By simply improving your organization skills, you could get THREE EXTRA DAYS in a year!
Think about how much more you could accomplish with that extra time. Then get to work establishing better order and system in your work place. Combined with other time management tips and techniques that you’ll pick up by exploring other sections of this site, and from the Ming Vase Time Management series, you’ll enjoy a productivity boost and lower stress.
This lies at the heart of the Time Management Tao system, which starts by teaching you how to
I'm Dr.Mani, a pediatric heart surgeon and author. I raise funds to sponsor heart surgery for under-privileged children in India. On this blog, I'll share my thoughts, travel photos, fitness tips and book reviews.