A lot of books have been written about how to manage your time by eliminating wasted motion and saving seconds where you can. But that’s how you make a factory more efficient, not a human being.
People have one main source of inefficiency: We’re prone to get sidetracked or distracted from the important things that need to be done and somewhat lost in the numerous unimportant things we also want to do. So the secret of becoming more efficient is first, know what’s important, and second, avoid getting off track. These can both be accomplished with a single technique.
Of all the words written about time management, the most valuable technique can be stated in one sentence: MAKE A LIST AND PUT IT IN ORDER.
There are always things to do. Since none of us can hold much in our minds while busy doing other things, we need to write things down or we forget — or have the uneasy feeling that we might be forgetting. So you need to make a list.
Write down only the important things you need to do. This should be a small list, no more than six items. Don’t clutter up your list with trivial or obvious things. This isn’t a schedule book, it’s a To Do List, and its purpose is to keep you focused.
You’ve made your list. Now, put the tasks in the order of their importance. Putting the list in order makes your decisions smooth and effective. You’ll know what to do first (the most important), and you’ll always know what to do next. You also know you’re making the best use of your time because at any given moment you’re doing the most important thing you need to do.
There’s no need to rush around or feel stressed to be efficient. Feeling tense or pressured makes you less efficient in the long run by causing unnecessary conflicts with people, mistakes, illness, and burnout. You are in more control of your life when you are calm. Make a list and put it in order. This puts your mind in order and puts your day in order. It’s a good investment of your time because you’ll get more done that really matters.
Adam Khan is the author of Principles For Personal Growth, Slotralogy, Antivirus For Your Mind, and co-author with Klassy Evans of How to Change the Way You Look at Things (in Plain English). Follow his podcast, The Adam Bomb.