How to Master Your Time

This week, I taught my team a class on time management, so I am going to share my methods with you.

I have a simple system for optimizing my time management, and it only has four basic parts: 

  1. List the Top Priorities in Your Life
  2. Create a Weekly Plan
  3. Write Out Your Top 5 Priorities Daily
  4. Incorporate a Psychological Booster to Keep You on Track

Here’s how the system works: 

#1 - List Your Top Priorities

"The key is not to prioritize what's on your schedule but to schedule your priorities." - Stephen Covey

First, you need to gain some clarity about your priorities to ensure that they are worked into your time management system. So, take a few minutes to list your top priorities. 

As an example, here are my top priorities right now: 

  1. Kids
  2. Health
  3. Work
  4. Husband
  5. Fun 
  6. God

#2 - Create a Weekly Plan

Before the week starts, review your big upcoming projects and priorities and schedule time for them on your calendar. 

I am a HUGE fan of the Panda Planner (I’ve been using it for 5+ years). This planner has a great section for reviewing your past week and planning your upcoming week. It only takes about 5-10 minutes and will help you stay focused on the most important things throughout your week. 

After you’ve reviewed your main projects and priorities, block off time in your schedule for these things. I like to color-code my schedule so that I can see, at a glance, if all my priorities are showing up on my calendar every week. 

#3 - Daily Top 5

The third and MOST IMPORTANT step is writing out your 5 top priorities every day. 

I did not come up with this system, I learned about it from Andy Frisella’s podcast Episode 107–Win the Day (a MUST Listen)

Writing out your top 5 priorities to complete every day is seriously a game changer.

Most of us struggle with having a never-ending to-do list, so identifying the top 5 most important tasks every day helps to significantly decrease overwhelm and help you make steady progress each day towards achieving your big goals. 

I like to write my Top 5 in my Panda Planner and put them in my task list.

#4 - Game Yourself

The last step is to game your own psychology and incorporate one or more of the following into your system based on which of these motivates you the most: 

  • Reward - give yourself a small reward like a snack or break after completing 1 or all of your Top 5 priority tasks
  • Punishment - inflict a small punishment on yourself for every priority task you do not complete each day (ie. do 5 push-ups for every task you do not complete)
  • Praise - tell someone that you accomplished your Top 5 Tasks (post in your group slack channel, group text, or tell your boss or friend that you completed your Top 5). At a minimum, they’ll give you a thumbs-up, which will encourage you. some text
    • A side benefit of this method is that you will probably motivate others to do better also. 
  • Accountability - get an accountability partner and hold each other accountable for completing your Top 5 daily. 
  • Competition - set up a competition with yourself (or ideally with a buddy) to see who can complete their tasks in a given amount of time (ie. whoever can complete their Top 5 every day for the most days in a row wins $100)

Incorporating one or more of these psychological hacks into your system will help reinforce it and make it a habit. 

This is the system that works for me and helps me have some sense of control over my chaotic life, so I hope it helps you!

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