Do you have too much to do and too little time? Of course! The most common form of stress that professional people experience is the feeling of being overwhelmed with too much to do and too little time to do it in. It’s called “time poverty” and it’s the biggest single problem facing most people today. Things like budget limitations, staff cutbacks, competitive pressures force individuals to take on more and more work.
The key to becoming more efficient and relieving that stress is the ability to set priorities and the ability to focus on one task at a time. Here are five ways to get organized and get started:
Related: 5 Tips for Using Your Time Wisely
1. Be open to new ideas.
The most foolish person of all is either the person who feels he has no time to learn about time management or, even worse, the person, while being overwhelmed with work, feels that she already knows all that’s needed to know on the subject.
2. Learn from the experts.
Success leaves tracks. A wise man, who had studied success for more than 50 years, once concluded that the greatest success principle of all was, learn from the experts. If you want to be a big success in any area, find out what other successful people in that area are doing—and do the same things until you get the same results. Study the interviews, speeches, biographies and autobiographies of successful men and women. You’ll find that they all had one quality in common: They were all described as being “extremely well organized.”
There is probably no other skill that you can learn that will give you a “bigger bang for the buck” than to become extremely knowledgeable and experienced in using time management practices. So read the books, the articles, listen to the audio, take the courses. Then, practice, practice, practice every day until you master those skills.
3. Develop a plan.
Successful men and women are both effective and efficient. They do the right things, and they do them in the right way. They are constantly looking for ways to improve the quality and quantity of their output. Develop a plan, Then decide what is the most important thing to do, and then decide how to do it.
4. Set priorities.
Since there is never enough time to do everything that needs to be done, you must continually set priorities on your activities. Perhaps the best question you can memorize and repeat is, What is the most valuable use of my time right now?
5. Focus on one task.
Start with your top tasks. The natural tendency is to major in minors and clear up small things first. After all, small things are easier and they are often more fun than the big, important things that represent the most valuable use of your time. However, the self-discipline of organizing your work and focusing on your highest-value tasks is the starting point of getting your time under control and lowering your stress levels.
The truth is, you can study time management and take time management courses for your entire career, and you will still never learn everything you need to know to get the most out of yourself while doing your job in the most efficient way. The key to efficiency is to continue learning and adapting to become your own expert.