The six golden rules for managing your time

Do you feel you spend far too much of your time putting out fires, but you don’t know how to approach things differently?

Managing your time isn’t rocket science. It starts with your planning and organisation, and a bit of self-discipline when it comes to your diary.

Here are the six key principles: –

  1. Make a list of all your priorities and tasks
  1. Analyse each one to see if they qualify as A, B, C or D as per the diagram below
  1. If the task is important and urgent (A) you do it straightaway
  1. If the task is important but not urgent (B) you block time out in your diary and you treat it like a client meeting. In other words you only re-schedule it if you absolutely have to. And it can’t ever just disappear from your diary
  1. If you’re not sure about a particular task, it goes into the Clearing House (C). From there it can be re-allocated as your priorities change, or delegated to someone else if it is urgent but not important
  1. D is for Dump! These are the tasks that you’ve decided are non important and non urgent. Why are you spending your time on these? You will need to be ruthless if you’re going to manage your time well (so all that reading that you planned to do and which is fast becoming outdated needs to go)

If you can be disciplined in your planning and organisation based on this approach, eventually it will become a habit and the way you manage your time.

Making the important and urgent tasks your priority is obvious. What is perhaps less obvious, is the need to block out time in your diary for the important and non-urgent.

If you don’t do this, you will never get off the back foot because you are consistently neglecting those tasks that are important but (at the time) were not urgent.

Once you start to block out time for your B priorities, and rationalise what you do with the C priorities which are urgent but non important, you won’t need to be putting out those fires, you can get on to the front foot and start to focus on your high level thinking and strategy.

Time management diagram

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