21 Best Time Management Strategies and Tools With Brian Tracy
In our daily lives, it can often feel as if we don’t have enough time to get everything done that we want to accomplish. Finding good time management strategies and tools can help you to work smarter – not harder, leading to more success and less stress.
In this article, we’ll cover time management strategies you can use to achieve more and create success.
1. Time management starts with setting goals.
It’s impossible to manage your time and create without setting goals.
Try driving from Los Angeles to New York without a map. You probably won’t make it, and even if you do, there will be a hell of a lot more miles on your car than there should be. Nobody wants unnecessary mileage on their car.
Pull out a map and create a plan.
Okay, so how to I create a map for time management?
Start by asking yourself the following questions: What is it that I want to be have or do? Who am I and where am I going? What do I want to accomplish? Where do I want to be 1 year, 5 years, and 10 years?
Take the time to really think about those things and be very clear and specific about your answers to those questions. Think about your personal and family goals. Think about your business and career goals. Think about your personal development goals.
If you’re struggling to find answers to those questions, think about what you would do it you only had 6 months to live. This will tell you what you really value. If you could do anything you wanted and knew you couldn’t fail what would it be?
As you go through this exercise, write down your thoughts. By doing so, you have successfully taken the first step in creating a strategy to manage your time.
Goals must be in writing and rewritten constantly.
2. Create organized plans of action
Making an action plan puts your goals into steps, which making them easier to accomplish. Action without planning is the leading cause of failure, anxiety and stress.
Let’s go back to our example of driving from Los Angeles to New York for a moment. Do you you’d make it? Do you think you’d get stressed out trying to drive their without a clear route to get there?
If not, good for you! I want to be your friend. For the rest of you normal people out there, I feel you.
Write out every single step you need to go through to get the result you desire. Once you write those out, go through them again and prioritize tasks.
3. Analysis – Make a list
Once you have your goals and organized plans of action you should make list before you start any plan.
Every Sunday make a list for the week. Every night make a list for the next day.
Let your mind work for you while you sleep. By planning the night before, you will wake up in the morning with answers from your subconscious.
As you complete each task on your list, check off each task.
4. Set priorities
Having clear priorities can help you focus on and strategize your goals for better time management.
Determine what is relevant and what is irrelevant.
Highly effective people work on the vital few rather than the trivial many. Don’t put off the major tasks.
Constantly ask yourself what is the most valuable use of my time right now?
Will the task that your currently working on give you the highest payoff? What impact will the accomplishment of this task have on my future? This is the key to measuring the value.
Important tasks will always have an impact on the future.
Concentrate single-mindedly on one thing a time until it is complete. It takes much longer to get something done if you keep walking away from it and going back to it.
Again, make a list of what you have to do daily and weekly. Organize your goals, and determine the highest priorities.
Pick the most important thing on your list and don’t work on anything else until it’s finished. (It doesn’t matter how long it takes and if you don’t get anything else done because if it’s the most important thing you have to do it’s the most important thing that you can be working on.
When you concentrate solely on an important task you will feel great.
Most stress, anxiety and frustration in the world of work today comes from working very hard on irrelevant tasks.
The worst thing in the world is to do very well what need not be done at all.
6. Set deadlines & rewards
Structure a specific reward that you are going to get when upon completion of your most important task. Give yourself a reward every time you complete a task.
Train yourself, the same way you train a dog, to receive a positive consequence for getting things done.
Set deadlines with lots of room to spare and always finish before the deadline.
Tell other people that you are going to finish by this deadline. Promise others that you are going to have your work done. It’s a powerful way to act as a forcing system.
If you don’t set a deadline and give yourself a forcing system, you fall in to a trap of what is called Parkinson’s Law*
Highly successful people are always setting tight disciplined deadlines for themselves so they get more work done in a short period of time rather than less work done in a long period of time.
7. Have a time log
All effective people know where their time goes. The more successful you are the more you tend to measure your time in minutes.
The less successful you are, the more you tend to measure out your time in hours, days and weeks.
An average person thinks of “morning” or “afternoon”. An above average person thinks of “hours”. The successful person thinks of “half hours”. The very successful person thinks of “minutes”
You must keep a detailed track of what you’re spending your time on (You’ll realize you’re wasting a lot of it).
Whenever you have a moment to look down at your watch (or phone), write down what you’re doing at the time. Or have somebody else watch what you’re doing with your time and feed it back to you
Ask yourself, is what i’m doing with my time consistent with my major goals, my top priorities, my high payoff tasks Am I spending my time on the things that are important to me?
Self discipline is critical. You must watch and measure your time constantly.
8. Procrastination – positive or negative
What is positive vs negative procrastination?
Positive procrastination is when you procrastinate on doing low priority tasks. When you procrastinate on things that do not contribute very much to your major goals
Negative procrastination is when you procrastinate on your most important tasks.
Tasks are either urgent (must be done now), or they are important (Don’t have to be done now but have a very high impact on your future). We have a natural tendency to focus on what is urgent instead of what is important
Important tasks are seldom urgent and urgent tasks are seldom important. Overcome procrastination with a very simple method: Tell yourself DO IT NOW, DO IT NOW, DO IT NOW. By doing so you are training your subconscious.
You must have sense of urgency and do things quickly. Set priorities and get the job done fast!
9. Delegate what you can
The most valuable resource in the world today is productive team. Do not waste your productive time on things that someone else can do for you at a lower rate than your time.
You simply cannot be successful unless you delegate the lower priorities to others.
Delegation requires clarity. Think through what you want done – write it down.
Pick the right person to do it. Don’t give a major task to an incapable person.
Find a capable person and make it crystal clear what you want done and when you want it done.
Check, review, inspect, keep on top of it to make sure it’s done. Never assume its done on time unless you check on it yourself.
10. Take less meetings
50-75% of meeting time is wasted time.
If you’re going to take a meeting, make sure it’s crystal clear what the purpose of the meeting is. Make sure there is an agenda for the meeting.
Make sure the agenda with the most important items first.
When you have finished your most important contributions, ask if you can be excused
Start and stop the meeting on time. Never wait until the late comer shows up.
Look at a meeting as an investment. Don’t go to meetings if you don’t need to be there.
11. Avoid interruptions
We all have our fair share of unexpected walk-ins or phone calls. Discipline yourself to remember that if it’s important enough they will phone back.
Have your calls held a several hours then call people back all at once.
Don’t be a slave to the telephone. Most people calling you are are time wasters.
If people call and ask if you have a minute, SAY NO and tell them they can call you later.
12. Focus on key result areas
Ask yourself why am I on the payroll?
What results are expected of me?
What are the core functions of my role?
It is extremely important to know what is expected of you and do the most important things that bring those expected results.
13. Batch tasks
You can decrease the amount of time it takes you to do something by up to 80% over time by batching tasks.
Put similar groups of tasks together and do them at once.
14. Neatness increases productivity
Intelligent people can very often remember where everything is.
Clean up your work environment so it is completely neat (nothing else on your desks but the thing you’re working on). This will increase your productivity from 20-40%. Toss the bullshit.
Refer the things that aren’t relevant to you and give it to somebody else.
File things into action folder (out of the way).
Before you file ask yourself what would happen if you lost this document. If it’s not particularly important, just toss it. Then start with your action items
If you’re not using it NOW put it away. Keep only what you need and keep it organized
15. Chunks of Time
Important work requires chunks of time to do. Think 1-2 hours minimum. Develop the habit of cutting out blocks of time where you can work without interruption.
The best time for important work is very early in the morning or late at night.
It’s impossible to do creative work and administrative work at the same time. They must be broken up.
Cut away chunks of time for the important stuff.
Here’s an important note with regard to travel. 1 interrupted hour on an aircraft is worth 3 hours in your office. Try to sit next to a window to bury yourself in your work.
16. Transition time
If you want to earn more you must learn more. You get paid in direct proportion to your service. In order to contribute relevantly, you must always learn.
Learn while DRIVING. Don’t listen to the radio.
Learn during COFFEE BREAKS. Read on a particular subject during that break.
Learn during LUNCH. Read or listen to something during your lunchtime.
Always take in more information during your “gifts of time”.
17. Master your phone. Don’t let it be the master of you.
Your phone is primarily a business tool. Get on and off fast.
When someone calls, always ask “How can I help you” to get straight to the point.
Make it clear that this is a business call.
People are time wasters and most of them don’t value time because they have no goals.
Lastly, and most importantly, KEEP GOOD NOTES during telephone meetings.
ALWAYS HAVE A PEN. Never pick up a phone without it.
18. Be punctual
You want to be the person that has the reputation of always showing up on time. If you’re not early, you’re late.
Less than 5% of people are punctual. Punctual people stand out.
When you are late for an appointment you are insulting the person you are meeting with
- Never hire someone late for an interview
- Even as a superior you should never be late for those that work for you. It’s the worst thing you can do
19. Work Simplification
- Always be looking for ways to do tasks faster, newer, quicker, cheaper better.
- Streamline existing process
- Work longer (not the best)
- Work faster
- Do fewer things, but do more important things
- Do things that you are better at. Concentrate on doing what you do best
- Make fewer mistakes. You will get far more done within a certain time period
- Do things together. Teamwork. Work as teams with other people
20. Saying NO
- Say it early and often
- Say no if it does not contribute to you goals
- Most people do not value their time so they don’t value yours
- When someone asks you to do something, always answer with let me think about it and get back to you
- Delay. Then call back later and say no and get on with the rest of your life
- What is the purpose of managing your time well?
- What is the purpose of getting an extra 2-3 hours a day?
- Piece of mind
- Quality of relationships
- Take time to invest in your relationships. You’re loved ones. That’s what life is
- Don’t lose sight of the fact that this is why we are managing our time. For us to have good health, peace of mind and relationships with people
- This is all about enhancing the overall quality of your life
- Ask yourself again, what would you do if you only had 6 months left. This will help you with balance.
6 Step Method (Do this daily)
- Choose your goals
- Set priorities
- Choose activities
- Set priorities
If you have 2 hours of work to do and 8 hours of time, you will stretch that work over 8 hours. It also says that work contracts to fill the time allotted for it. If you have 8 hours of work to do and have an emergency that requires you to get it done in 2 hours, you will get it done in two hours.
- The essence of success and time management is goals
- Organize plans
- Set priorities and determine what is most important
- Always concentrate on the best use of your time
- Concentrate on the most important tasks are finished
- Develop a sense of urgency. Do it NOW. DO IT NOW DO IT NOW
“If you are not good at time management, nothing is possible for you. But if you are good at time management, everything is possible for you.”