Setting priorities your first step in time management
Are you feeling frazzled, bewildered and overwhelmed? Do you have more tasks on your "to do" list than enough hours to do them?
The key to accomplishing those tasks is knowing yourself, your priorities and your limits, says Katy Goolsby, who presents time management seminars for the University of North Texas.
Goolsby tells her classes that managing time is not always about Palm Pilots, day planners and alarm clocks.
"These can be helpful tools," says Goolsby, who is also a supplemental tutoring coordinator at UNT's Learning Center. "But before looking at these tools, it would be better to identify your priorities."
Identifying what's important to you, she says, can help you make decisions about how to invest your time wisely.
"It can help you make a decision to put that thing first. The result is stress reduction," she says. "Each person has to find out what works best for his or her own individual needs."
Understanding how you respond to your environment and the demands of others can also help, she says.
"We all have different temperaments. Some people thrive on chaos and multi-tasking to accomplish goals, while others prefer predictability and a steady pace," she says.
Goolsby encourages people to lighten their loads by focusing on doing one thing at a time and by communicating with others about their priorities.
"You have the power to prioritize and select which task should get the most attention," she says. "Do that thing first."
When bosses, coworkers or others press you to accomplish a task by a certain time, tell them what you're working on and what your deadlines are, she suggests. Then offer to delay one task in order to complete another, she says.
She also recommends always having a sense of perspective.
"If you have 24 items on your ‘to do' list and you can only accomplish three of them, don't become discouraged," she says. "Focus on what you've been able to do and by all means, celebrate what you have accomplished."