By: Brian Tracy
The most common form of stress that we experience is the feeling of being overwhelmed with far too much to do and having too little time to do it in. In fact, “time poverty” is the biggest single problem facing most managers in America today. We simply do not have enough time to fulfill all our responsibilities. Because of budget limitations, staff cutbacks, downsizing, and competitive pressures, individual managers are forced to take on more and more work, all of which appears to be indispensable to the smooth functioning of our company or department.
Become an Expert
The solution to this problem of work overload is for you to become an expert on time management. 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.
Be Open to New Ideas
The most foolish manager of all is either the manager who feels that he has no time to learn about time management or, even worse, the manager who, while being overwhelmed with work, feels that he already knows all that he needs to know about the subject.
Never Stop Learning
The fact is that you can study time management and take time management courses for your entire business life 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 Keys to Time Management
The two indispensable keys to time management are:1) the ability to set priorities; and 2) the ability to concentrate single-mindedly on one thing at a time. Since there is never enough time to do everything that needs to be done, you must be continually setting priorities on your activities. Perhaps the very best question that you can memorize and repeat, over and over, is, “what is the most valuable use of my time right now?”
The Best Question of All
This question, “what is the most valuable use of my time right now?” will do more to keep you on track, hour by hour, than any other single question in the list of time management strategies.
The natural tendency for all of us is to major in minors and to give in to the temptation to 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 valu able use of your time.
Start With Your Top Tasks
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.
Here are two things you can do immediately to get your time under control.
First, make a decision today to become an expert on time management. Read the books, listen to the audio programs, and take a time management course. Then, practice, practice, practice every day until you master time management skills.
Second, set clear priorities on your work each day, before you begin. Then, discipline yourself to start on your most important task and stay at that until it is complete. This will relieve much of your stress immediately.