You’ve probably heard the acronym, SMART; Specific, Manageable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely. This is an ideal way to create a time management system for your work or personal life. Or you can use these criteria to evaluate a time management and day planner system that you might purchase.
Specific: Your time management system must be able to record each task and have enough room to add necessary details. Often, those small, freebie calendars that you get from local businesses don’t have enough space to be specific about your tasks and what’s needed to accomplish them.
Manageable: Some time management systems can be so detailed and complex that using them is a part time job. That’s not helpful and can discourage you from doing any type of scheduling. If one system does not work for you then find a different one, but don’t give up. And don’t get a planner book that’s too large to comfortable carry with you when you are out. That leads to the sticky notes scattered around and missing important appointments.
Attainable: Yes, you can get your frantic, over-booked life under control. In fact, you have to do it for your health as well as for your business. Why add needless stress to your workday by trying to remember your schedule instead of planning it on your calendar. You can complete more work in less time if you have a big picture of the tasks and prioritize those tasks each day.
Realistic: No matter how you try to stretch it, there’s still only 24 hours in a day. If you work 8 hours, travel 1 hour, sleep 7 hours, then you have 8 hours remaining to get dressed, eat meals, spend time with your friends and family, exercise, and socialize. You can enjoy more variety in your personal time if you schedule special events on your calendar. Knowing that you have tickets for the Broadway touring company of a stage play on Friday evening will help you avoid over-scheduling tasks so you can leave work on time and be ready when the curtain goes up.
Timely: Time does not stop for any of us. When you take on too many tasks for the allotted time, you know how it feels as if time is moving in hyper-speed. The purpose of time management is so that you can accomplish what you need to do and balance each deadline with other work plus those unexpected interruptions. If you delay a difficult project by claiming that you “work better under pressure,” you are only fooling yourself. What actually happens when working under pressure is a higher tendency for error.
As you choose the right time management system for your work style, you are preparing to simplify your life. You’ll also gain a sense of mastery over your time so that you know what you can add to the day to be able to say no to over-commitment and to say yes to enjoyable activities.