Six steps to effective time management

June 6, 2012
Over-commit: Oblige oneself to do more than one is capable of
The antidote: Setting limits based on priorities
Today I had to withdraw from an agreement I made
to help my neighborhood do something.
I had over-committed myself.
It sounds strange to say I can be over-committed
in what’s now semi-retirement, and especially
strange because I’m usually pretty good about setting limits for myself.
Lots of women have this problem. 
We want to help and we say we will, but when the time
comes, we see we over-promised.
Everything we do has a priority level 
and to manage time effectively, we have to recognize where each sits in importance.

And we need to remember this simple concept:

“No.” is a complete sentence with a period after it.

Not “No, but I’ll do it in a month.”
or “No, because my mother is here from out of town,
my kids are home from school and I’m working part-time.”



For me, developing from scratch the new college course I’ll teach this fall 
has top priority for the summer. It’s not something I can wing
because it’s not in my sweet spot (writing, PR, advertising). 
It’s a course in sales and negotiation for entrepreneurship students.
It’s time-consuming to develop.
And I’m getting paid.
August 27 will be here before I know it, so the course
must be my top priority.

Writing is also important. It ranks second,
even though there are times when I slide it down the ladder.

Up top is spending time with a good friend.
I enjoy her, for one, but for two, she’s going through
some challenging times.
Being there for a friend.
That’s right up there before writing.
Oh, how I love to have fun. My husband’s a fun guy.
We vacation, we read, we watch TV, go to movies
entertain, attend theatre, see sporting events.
Life is short.
Fun has a high priority.
The gym.
Of course I blow it off whenever I can but it belongs up top.
As if this isn’t enough, I agreed to chair the board of a women’s
theatre group in San Francisco. Meetings mean a 2.5 hour round trip.
these women kill me with their talent,
enthusiasm and the great work they’re doing
to promote women’s theatre
and I want to help.
So last week, when my neighborhood representative hit me up
to help with something we’d talked about in January, I 
felt guilty. I really didn’t have the time to spare.
So I said “No.”
It was hard.
I felt badly.
But there are only so many hours in a day.
And priorities are priorities.
How about you? What are your priorities?
Are you afraid to say no?
Do you feel trapped and over-committed?
Here’s one way out:
1.Write down each of your responsibilities and activities.
2. Break them down into three buckets:
o  Most important  o  Kind of important  o Not very important

3. Cross off everything in the third category. 
Schedule everything in the first category.
4. Then assign everything in the second category a number
that reflects how important it is to you. 
Assign a 1 to top priorities in that category.
Then assign numbers from 2 to … to the others.
If it’s got a 1, it’s not negotiable. You’ve got to do it when you’ve
finished the things in your most important category.
How much time will each take you?
5. Calendar these things, along with the time they take. 
6. Is there any room on your calendar for more activities?
If not, stop.
If yes, plug in the other tasks in the priority order you’ve set.
There you have it.
Do all the top ranked 1s first.
Then move to the 2s and work down your list.
Yes, you can change your mind about a ranking.
You just can’t add more hours to the day.
Pity, isn’t it?

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