My summer was essentially spent working in the cool mornings, laying on the beach during afternoons, and visiting with friends in the evenings–a hard life, I know. However, in the last few weeks, I was alerted to the fact that I need to improve my time management skills. Time management is the act of planning and exercising conscious control over the amount of time spent on specific activities. While time management is actively sought after in leadership positions, it is also universally applicable. As I am struggling to balance school, work, and family, you might be struggling to manage that additional project you were assigned, or to keep your projects on or ahead of schedule.
In the next few weeks, I hope to brush up on the teaching of Dale Carnegie, the world-renown expert on self-improvement, salesmanship, corporate training, public speaking, interpersonal skills, and time management. I plan to read and reread as many of his books as I am able to.
Although this summary is hardly a replacement for reading his books, here are five tips about effective time management from a blog post on Dale Carnegie’s website:
1. An hour of planning can save you ten hours of doing. Don’t head into big projects without setting out goals, how you will achieve those goals, and the most important part, setting times by which they have to be accomplished. This will save you a lot of time trying to make decisions on the spot which will make the project take a lot longer.
2. Use a to-do list. Seventy percent of business and professional people use one to stay on track. It helps out if you need to find what to do next, especially if the steps aren’t connected or even part of the same project. Most of us are working on more than one thing at a time. Make yourself accountable to one thing – the list.
3. A project will usually spread into the time allotted for it. If you only put one thing on your to-do list, you are most likely to spread the task throughout the day. If you add another thing to the list in the early part of the day, you will probably get them both done. If you have six or seven things on the list, you might still be able to get them all done in the course of a day, which is a huge improvement over the one thing you were going to get done before.
4. Take a speed reading course. The average reading speed is two hundred words per minute. Most people have to read for at least two hours a day for work. A speed reading course can double your reading speed. That gives you another hour to do more productive things.
5. Take an hour a day for self improvement. If you spend one full hour a day on a topic you want to improve in, that is seven hours a week (almost a full work day), and 365 hours a year (more than two straight weeks without sleep) learning how to become proficient (and even master) any topic of your choice.
Remember that time management isn’t just about doing things faster, but also about doing them right the first time.