Time. Too many waste it or kill it rather than wisely investing it.
It is 3:30 in the afternoon on the last day of the September. As I write this, I am in a long line waiting to have my car inspected. I have known that today was the day my car inspection was due for months and I actually planned on getting it done weeks ago. Yet, here I sit, in the long line that always accompanies the last day of a deadline. Had I followed my plan, and got the car inspected earlier, there would have been little or no wait and I would have significantly reduced the amount of time required to do this task.
What happened? I broke the most important principle to effectively using time. Not only is this principle the foundation of all time management techniques, it is also the secret to having more time in your life. Here it is: Do the most important thing at any given moment in time.
That’s it. Simple, yet powerful. How could it have helped me with my car? Instead of constantly putting off this important task until it became so urgent that I ended up doing it at the worst possible moment, I would have proactively planned it into my schedule before it became urgent.
This principle of effectiveness can be applied to other aspects of our lives. Take financial, for instance. If you purchase something that you need while it is on sale rather than when it is at full price, you save money—you actually get more power out of the same money. It is also much cheaper to pay the mortgage one day early, than one day late and be slapped with late fees. Likewise, when you complete tasks at the most opportune moment, they take less time, there are fewer “re-do’s,” and you have less stress. In short, you have moved from management to effectiveness.
As a young man I took a time management class and loved it. We talked about prioritizing your tasks and appointments, writing them all down, and working to get them done. But, in this class, I also learned a technique which has proved to be the most damaging to my effectiveness. It was a concept called, “planning forward.” I’m not talking about planning ahead, or planning tasks in advance, which is an important part of effective time management. I’m talking about planning forward, which means: if you didn’t get it done, simply move the task to a new date, and keep moving it until it gets done. This was dangerous for me, because I soon became an expert in planning forward. If I didn’t want to do something or wanted to put it off, I could simply move it forward to another date. I would sometimes plan forward a task 6 or 7 times, before I finally go it done, or realized that I was never going to do it and ended the insanity by crossing off the task. Just think of how much time was wasted doing it this way.
The key to effective time management is to:
- Decide what the most important tasks and events are.
- Plan them into your schedule so that they get done at the most opportune time.
- Never “plan forward” important tasks except in the event of a real emergency. Do it now!
- Enjoy extra time and peace of mind because you took control instead of waiting for tasks to become urgent.
Success Tip: To have more time in your life and enjoy peace of mind, follow this principle of effectiveness: do the most important thing at any given moment in time.