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Time management made easy (Well, easier at least)

by Peter de Jager
in Management

Prioritizing our tasks is fairly easy; some things are obviously more important than others. Identifying how much time we have is also relatively easy, since we can start with 24 hours a day and work our way down to a more reasonable/realistic number.

Where we all have a problem is coming to the conclusion that task “X” won’t be done this week, because we don’t have time for it.

Of course, to get to that point, we must become proficient at allocating time to the tasks we’re choosing to complete, and then focusing our attention on those tasks until they are finished.

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Building Your “To-Do” List

The base tool to assist us in this is the “To Do” list. We all know how the TD list works. List the stuff to do on top, in order of priority, then the stuff we should do if we have time for them, and then, at the bottom, the stuff we’re unlikely to ever get done (like that hot toddy by the fire).

The mechanics of the TD list aside, there’s an aspect of the TD list that’s rarely mentioned. Part of the problem we have managing our time is the overwhelming sense of chaos that swirls around our heads. There’s little more demotivating than the certain knowledge that we’re disorganized, and that we’ll never get it all done, no matter how hard we work.

Taming the Chaos around Us

This sense of constant chaos cheats us of any sense of progress towards a goal. A daily TD list, compiled during those few calm moments before the day starts with a rushing vengeance, is the perfect solution to our all too common panic attack.

By writing down what we have to do, we immediately remove the certainty that we’ve forgotten something. Having a TD list stops the constant mind juggling necessary to keep everything in memory and allows us to focus on a single task.

Time management becomes an exhilarating experience as we strike a task off the list with a swooping flourish of a lurid purple marker (am I disclosing too much?). This is such a pleasure that you’ll find yourself putting things on the list, just so that you can strike them off the list.

The sense of progress that we didn’t have before is now there for all to see a flurry of purple strokes across the page.

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Decisions, Decisions …

Time management is not about doing everything on our plate; it’s all about deciding what to do and, most importantly, what not to do.

Is reading this article the best use of your time right now? We can’t answer that question until we know what we should be doing right now, and how much time we have available. Simple, if not easy.  MW

Municipal World Insider and Executive Members: You might also be interested in the full version of this article or in Peter’s other article: Beyond mere delegation. Note that you can now access the complete collection of past articles (and more) from your membership dashboard.


Peter de Jager is a keynote speaker on change management, his “to-do” list is comprised of three items: speak well, write well, take a break.

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