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Business Tips: Simple time management

by David Nguyen, founder of and author of The 25 Hour Day, an ebook that shows how to get more done, achieve your goals, have more free time and less stress by using simple, proven techniques.

How To Reach Your Goals

There is something you want to achieve. That's why you're reading this. Whether it is a personal, professional, educational, short term or long term goal, you need to have a clear idea of what it is.

Goals are like destinations. You need to have directions to reach them. Then you need to find the courage to take that journey. Take a look around you and you will see that it's not that easy. Some people try and fail. Most never even try.

The main reasons are because they don't have:

1. A clear idea of what they want to do and by when.
2. The motivation to follow through on something they don't truly believe in.
3. Realistic goals.

There are days when you feel like you can do anything. Then there are days when you don't. Sometimes the difference is simply whether you have a clear goal.

I'm here to show you how you can reach your goals. My Goal Sheet will help you to:

1. Set a clear goal.
2. Determine when you'll achieve it.
3. And how you will reward yourself for reaching it.

Keep in mind that those who write their goals have a much greater likelihood of achieving them.


Prioritize and do less! If you do fewer things you'll have more time. As obvious as it seems, most people try to do too much. Do you have to do everything? Of course not. So forget about the unimportant stuff. It doesn't matter. Focus on what does.

Take your To Do list and cross out what is not important. Just forget about the things that you don't absolutely have to do that you don't want to do. Congratulations, you have just saved time!

For the remaining tasks, make six columns on your list. Label them 'Task', 'Hours', 'Allotted', 'Due', 'Priority' and 'Done'. I find it best to use a spreadsheet to do this, since data can be reformatted quickly and easily.

Estimate how long it will take to complete each task. Put that under the 'Hours' column next to the task. Round to the nearest half hour. Then under the 'Allotted' column, double that amount of time. This is how you reduce stress and get things done. As you get better at estimating, you might reduce the 'Alotted' time by multiplying 'Hours' by 1.5 instead of 2. The 'Alotted' time is the estimate you should use on your planner.

Give each task a deadline. By when does each item have to be completed? Put the date next to each corresponding item. If an item doesn't have a fixed due date, choose one. You're in charge, remember?

Now rank their importance. Use A for very important, B for somewhat important, and C for not important (but you still want/need to do it).

Then sort by due date and then priority. That's the order that you've decided to do things, you have prioritized.

Be Flexible

Leave some time each day for the unexpected (visitors, phone calls, etc.). That's why I recommend only scheduling between 6 and 8 hours of work. Think of plans as guidelines you have set for yourself, not absolute deadlines you are forced to meet. At the end of each day, if you have incomplete tasks, cross them off and schedule them for later dates. This way you won't have to keep looking back.

A lot of people try to cram too much into a day. The likely outcome is that they become less productive, less motivated, and less satisfied. Be diligent and plan carefully. Take time to relax and unwind.

Do More @ Once

Accomplish multiple things simultaneously. For example, when you are looking for a parking spot in a crowded lot, just park a bit farther away and walk, instead of driving around looking for a closer spot. You'll save time and get a little bit more exercise.

By consciously thinking about what you are doing you will be able to understand how your actions are helping you reach your goals. Not only what you are trying to do in the moment, but in other ways as well. In the example above you've arrived at point B and you are trying to park your car.

But by parking farther away, you have:

(1) saved time by not looking for a closer space,
(2) used that time to walk and get some exercise,
(3) reduced emissions to the atmosphere,
(4) and can use that walking time to think,

...since your attention is not diverted to driving.

When you're traveling and you've got some time with nothing to do--read or sleep. You're killing two birds with one stone. I find that technique handy when I'm not in the mood to chat. Often times I am in need of some rest. With simple tasks that don't require much attention, try to do several at once.


Run errands on the way to or from home. Try to accomplish at least three errands in one trip. Don't go across town just to mail a package. Go across town to mail a package, pick up clothes at the cleaner and do your grocery shopping. The secret to making this work is to plan in advance. A few
minutes a week spent planning will save you much time and effort.

Try to go out in public during off-peak hours. If you don't have to be at, or going to, the same places as everyone else at the same time then don't. You don't need the crowds and the crowds don't need you. Did you know that most automobile accidents happen within five miles of home? Minimize your exposure. You'll be more relaxed and get more done.


Step 1: I use a timer to help overcome procrastination. I work intensely for short periods and then relax. I repeat this cycle to increase my productivity and decrease my stress.

Step 2: I have made and currently use my To Do list with 'Task', 'Hours', 'Allotted', 'Due', 'Priority' and 'Done' columns.

Step 3: I prioritize the things I need and want to do. Before I start a project I have a plan that provides me with a clear goal.

Step 4: In conjunction with my To Do list, I use a planner every day to reduce stress and to keep me on track.

David Nguyen is the founder of and author of The 25 Hour Day, an ebook that shows how to get more done, achieve your goals, have more free time and less stress by using simple, proven techniques.

See also: Timemanager


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