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How to Wisely Manage Your Time

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Endless Possibilities

The possibilities of what you can do with your time these days are practically endless:

1. Check your email
2. Attend tonight's PTA meeting
3. Try a new pork roast recipe
4. Call your mother
5. Have lunch with an old friend
6. Sew a button on a short that has been sitting in your sewing pile for 3 months.
7. Call around and see if you can get lower insurance rates.
8. Give your dog a bath.
9. The list goes on and on.

The possibilities of what you can do with your time these days are literally endless. You will never get done everything you think you could or should be doing. If you have a "to do" list, you will most likely never have it cleared.

Listed below are some tips to help manage your time wisely.

Use the 80 / 20 Rule

1. Don't try to "catch up" on your backlog, because you most likely never will unless you learn to do only those things that are really important to you. So instead of catching up on your work backlog, try paring it down. Identify those activities that really matter to you. The 80/20 rule, also known as the Pareto principle, applied to time management means that 80% of your important results come from 20% of your tasks. The key is finding and identifying those important tasks on focusing your efforts on only those tasks.

Have Written Goals

2. In order to find out what your most important 20% tasks are, you need to have set goals in life that you are working towards. A person with a goal of retiring in five years is going to have very different goals from someone just entering college. Think about where would you like to be and how would you like to be living in six month, five years, ten years, or twenty years from now? If one of your goals is to have more money, then spending you free time on a part time job or going back to school might be important. Or, instead if your major goal is to have more fun in your life, then you might spend your free time joining clubs or taking up a new hobby. Think about your major goals and put them in writing. Keep them in a place where you can review them daily. Take a checkpoint now and then to see if what you are working on during the day is moving you towards achieving your major goals.

Plan Your Time

3. Make a spread sheet for a typical week in your life with seven days and 24 hours in each day. Block off time for all of the things you either have to do (or should do to stay healthy) such as working, commuting, sleeping, eating, exercising and daily grooming. Then look at your goals and your remaining time and try to fill your chart in with tasks that will move you towards your major goals. Be sure to include in your chart some down time plus time for fun, friends and family.

After filling in your chart, if you don't have enough time to accomplish all of the things you really want in life, then review your chart to see where you can cut back on the tasks you are doing now. Look for tasks you can delegate, shorten or even completely eliminate. If yard work is taking a lot of your time, can you hire a teenager in your neighborhood to help out? If you are spending a lot of time on email, can you get a better spam filter or unsubscribe to mailing lists that you are on? Look for ways to reduce the low payback tasks in your life in order to focus on the more important activities on your written goal list.