Whether it’s a written list, an electronic list or the pleasurable sigh when we can simply forget all about something once it’s completed. It’s said that we write things down in order to forget them and it’s easy to see that if we continually carry around all outstanding tasks in our heads, there would be very little room for processing anything else. After all, the average person can only hold approximately seven things in their conscious mind at any one time – this is why we create a to do list. I bet if you’re still reading this, your to do list is longer than seven! Here are some great time management tips to consider the next time you make a to do list!
What is time management according to Covey?
Stephen Covey, author of “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”, believes that the essence of best thinking in time management is to “organise and execute around priorities”. His time management priority model, as illustrated below, is a popular one! According to Covey, all tasks (whether business or personal) can fall into one of the four categories, and he suggests that we can prioritise our to do list according to the model.
An interesting point is that many people spend most of their time dealing with tasks that fall into boxes one (Urgent and Important) and three (Urgent and Not Important). This leaves little time for those things in box two which may not be Urgent - but are Important. These are usually our long term goals.
The challenge with this psychological delight in crossing things off of our lists is that we tend to work on the short term things first. If you spend half a day in box one or three, chances are you may be able to tick several items off your list – but the same half day spent on a box two item may result in no ticks at all, and where’s the fun in that?!
If you relate to that, ask yourself how else can you reward yourself for completing part of a long-term task? Can you break it into sub tasks or into hourly components? Think about what time management techniques would work for you - and remember “you can only eat an elephant one bite at a time!”
Tackle your to do list one thing at a time
“Eating elephants” is a phrase coined by a company who have been running time management courses since 1975, and who produce a whole raft of products designed to help people manage their time more efficiently - “You can only eat an elephant a bite at a time!” The idea behind eating elephants a bite at a time translates to our medium to long term goals. If we can tackle them a piece at a time, then they don’t seem as daunting – and we can tick the smaller activities off our to-do list!
What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments!