1. Learn to set priorities. Begin by formulating your major goals in life and ranking them in terms of importance. Use the same prioritizing techniques to rank your short-term goals as well, on a weekly and monthly basis.
2. Mark your calendar. Keep a calendar for effective, graphical time management. Try nailing down the most essential items (especially with regard to your major goals) in red; these are the things you can’t afford to postpone. Work in the other, less important events around them.
3. Don’t get distracted. The key to a good schedule is to actually use it! This requires some real discipline, especially at first; with time, however, it will become habitual. If you stick to your plan, the quality of your production should improve greatly, because you’ll be able to concentrate exclusively on the task at hand, without stressing over unrelated deadlines.
4. Leave enough flex time around your red-letter items to accommodate the unexpected—those random, unannounced appointments, for example. This way you’ll never have to postpone something that cannot brook postponement. This allows you to be flexible, without comprising what is most important.
5. Recover that wasted time. Those tiny bits of time squandered on distractions can really add up. Learn to regard your time as a valuable resource—one that you can invest only once, and can never recover if you invest it foolishly.
6. Don’t forget to take time out! Schedule time away from your schedule! Everyone knows that without a breather now and then, and an occasional trip or retreat, the time you do spend at work will be less productive. So work recreation into your schedule.
7. Schedule each particular task. With any big project, breaking it down into sub-tasks can allow you to proceed more rationally and more productively. Break every job into sub-jobs, and allocate them to the free blocks of your schedule, with an eye on the deadline.
8. Stay on task. Refuse to work on anything at any given moment besides what you’ve written on your schedule. That applies to relaxing, too! Don’t take your briefcase to the beach under any circumstances!
These personal time management tips are a good start for planning your life wisely. You’ll see great dividends in all aspects of your life.