the shape of leadership

Five Time Management Maxims That Work

Principles for productivity

Influence Magazine on September 17, 2019

Using your time wisely can mean the difference between a productive day and a frustrating week. But there are so many opinions about how to arrange your schedule, time your work, manage your flow, or cut out distractions. Who has time to try every one of them?

If you’re looking for some time management tips that really work, just keep it simple. Here are five easy-to-remember ways to make the most of every single day:

1. Early to bed, and early to rise. A good night’s sleep, along with a quick start to your day, can increase productivity to the max. When you’re exhausted, on the other hand, every task feels like it weighs a ton. You work slower and get sidetracked more often. It’s not just about getting to bed at a good time. According to the National Sleep Foundation, going to bed at the same time each night can improve your sleep health. So establish a time to call it a day, and set your alarm for an early start.

2. Make a to-do list. At the beginning of each work day, write down the tasks you need to complete. You can keep a running list of all assignments, or you can focus on the tasks for that day only. Next, prioritize them according to importance. Finally, start working through them by tackling the most difficult first. Having a list in front of you can provide motivation to stay on task.

Set boundaries for your work day, and stay within them.

3. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Before you dig in to that list, be realistic about what you can get done. If you have three tasks that will each require four hours of work, you’ve already scheduled yourself a 12-hour day without breaks. Instead, make sure to balance your workload over the days of the week so you don’t get overloaded and freeze up.

4. Give it all you’ve got. When you are working, stay at it for as long as you can. That means reducing distractions. But it also means not giving in to the temptation to cut off a task too early. Work at each assignment as long as you can, while you can. If you have sermon research to do, try to stay with it until you either run out of time or finish the job. You may need to take a short break to refocus or to address an issue that arises, but have the discipline to get back at it afterward. Giving it all you’ve got will allow you more time later on.

5. Stay inside the lines. Each of these items may be easier said than done. That’s why this last one is so important. Set boundaries for your work day, and stay within them. It may look like a rigid schedule. But it should also mean that once you leave the office, you put work behind you and focus on yourself and your family. Keeping your life inside the lines will not only help your overall mental and emotional health, but it will also make it easier to return to work fully energized.

These are just five simple tips, and you probably have your own that work for you. The important thing is to stick with your plan for productivity if you want to make the most of your time.

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