The Seven Rules of Effective Time Management

Nancy B. Alston

What do you have in common with the richest people in the world? What do you have in common with the most successful people in the world? You have one thing in common with everyone else no matter how much they have accomplished or how little – time.

Each of us has the same 24 hours each day for however many days we are blessed with on this earth. Success is not how much time you have; it is how you use that time. It is critical that you use that time in the most effective way to accomplish what you desire to achieve. There is no mystery here; it is simply a matter of disciplining yourself to use your time wisely and effectively.

Based on the experience of people who have achieved what they set out to do here are the 7 rules of effective time management:

1. Use a time management tool. There are thousands of them available and it does not matter which one you use, it matters how you use it. You can use a simple spiral notebook, a three ring notebook, a day planner, a PDA, a smart phone, an app on a smart phone, a computer program or any other method. You cannot keep all your appointments, obligations and plans in your head and you should not try to. Write them down, track your progress and learn from this process.

2. Plan for the Long, Medium and Short term. You should have at least a five year plan, a plan for the next year, a plan for the month and a plan for the week. Then each day you should have a plan for how to best use that day.

3. Based on your long term goals develop a five year plan. Make a list of the things you want to accomplish in the next five years. Keep this list in your planner and refer to it when you make your yearly and monthly plans. Make sure that you are devoting time and effort to accomplishing your long term goals.

4. Each year review your five year plan and update it. Then develop a plan for how you are going to make progress on those long term goals in the coming year. Write it down. Write down which months you will achieve each part of these annual goals.

5. Each month plan for the coming month. Refer back to your five year plan and your year plan and make sure you are setting aside time in your planner to achieve these goals.

6. Each week plan for the coming week. Refer back to your longer term goals and make sure you set aside the time to work on them. Here you can actually set aside blocks of time – appointments with yourself to achieve. If you do not do this the busy activities of daily life will push them out of your mind and they will not get done.

7. Plan for each day. For some people this is best done in the evening, when their energy is high and they can think clearly about what they have done on that day and what needs to be done the next day. For others this is best done first thing in the morning. Use whichever method, morning or evening, which works best for you. The important thing is to do it every day.

An early American who was extraordinarily successful used this method and was one of the first to write about it, his name was Benjamin Franklin. Since his day millions of words have been written about time management yet no one has really come up with a better method than Franklin’s.

Spend some time to set up your time management system. Most importantly practice the self discipline to follow your planning method every day. Nearly all successful people follow a time management plan and the most successful follow something similar to Franklin’s. It works and what can be wiser than following a method that has been proven to work.

Try this for one month and see if it does not improve your use of time, increase your productivity and move you faster toward accomplishing your goals. After a month or two you will be convinced and you will have made effective time management a habit.

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