Managing Your Time When You Don’t Have the Time
By Barry J. Izsak

Have you ever wondered how other
people who work from home seem
to get so much more done in a day than
you do? Do you feel like you are working
longer hours, yet never seem to complete
a fraction of the items on your "To Do"
list? When was the last time you were so ahead of schedule that you weren’t quite
sure what to do next? Or do you feel like there are just too many interruptions at
home and you will never get caught up no matter how hard you try?

You are not alone. The good news is that
time management is not rocket science. By
practicing a few basic time management principles, you can control your time instead
of letting it control you. Time management is basically self management. Time cannot
be managed, but you can manage yourself. It’s easier than you think.  

Budgeting your time while working from home is no different than when you used to
go to the office. With a little self-discipline, you can actually get more done at home
with fewer interruptions. However, you must always be mindful of what you need to
accomplish and by when and stay focused. Do not let yourself become distracted by
family members and things that are happening at home outside your office.

Did you know that 80% of the things you get done are accomplished in 20% of the
time you spend working? So what are you doing the other 80% of the time? I don’t
know, but here is what you should be doing:

Focus on your priorities and let the little things slide. Every time you do something
unimportant, you are trading something important for it.

Stop being reactive with your time--be proactive.  You have enough time to
accomplish what you want to if you set goals and manage your time instead of letting
it manage you. We have more respect for other people’s time than we do our own. Be
careful about how much of your time you give to others, because you are saying no to
something you could be doing.

Plan your day.  If you have no objectives for your day, you will have a matching set of
results and you will accomplish very little. Plans are the handrails which guide you
through the day’s distractions and keep you on course.

Schedule your tasks.  If you are making a To Do list then you are ahead of the game,
but that isn’t enough. A To Do list is not a commitment to do anything, but just a list
of tasks that you need to complete. A task will not become a priority and you will not
be committed to completing it until you schedule time in your planner to do it.  

Let me illustrate:  How many of you would miss a doctor’s appointment, an important
client or a social engagement? Of course not, because you blocked out the time in
your schedule.  The same thing should be true for important work activities as well!
This is one of the most overlooked principles of time management and is critical to
your success.

Schedule appropriate tasks to the time you have allotted.  Use smaller chunks of time
to take care of short, easily completed tasks like returning telephone calls, opening the
mail, filing, e-mail, etc. Use larger chunks of time for important action projects so that
you can make significant progress. If you experience more interruptions in the
morning, then use this time for more routine tasks and the scheduling of meetings.
Save the more important projects for other times of the day when you experience
fewer interruptions.    

Keep disruptions and non work-related activities to a minimum. One of the
advantages of working from home is that you can accomplish non work-related
activities at the same time such as doing laundry, putting a pot roast in the oven,
meeting a repairman or picking up your children from school. However, this could be
your downfall as well.Unless you are great at multi-tasking, you could find that your
productivity drops significantly if you are not careful and overdo it.

Don’t procrastinate.  The major reasons that we procrastinate are either we really don’
t want to do something or we don’t know where to start. If you break a large project
into small, manageable pieces, it will become much less formidable and easier to
accomplish. Identify why you are procrastinating and eliminate the cause.

Don’t be a perfectionist.  Be careful not to spend inordinate amounts of time on tasks
which do not require it. Understand why you are doing something and do what is
required to do a good job, but be realistic about it.

Where you will be in three to five years from now depends on what you are doing
today, tomorrow and next week. We make conscious and unconscious decisions
about how we spend our time every hour of the day. I challenge you to make the right
ones and make each minute count!

About the author: Barry J. Izsak is the President of the National Association of Professional
Organizers (NAPO) and author of Organize Your Garage in No Time. He is a national speaker,
founder of ARRANGING IT ALL™ in Austin, Texas and a certified GO System trainer and a
Paper Tiger authorized consultant. For more information, visit
Arranging it All.
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