Time management strategies to make life more effective
Because time is finite, it is our most valuable resource. It doesn’t matter who you are – there are still only 24 hours in a day. But that’s what’s so exciting: It’s not about the amount of time you have, but what you do with your time. This is why it’s essential to not only employ time management strategies, but effective time management strategies. Achieving mastery of time management is the difference between being busy and being productive, and what separates those still struggling from those who are living richer, fuller lives.
Too many time management strategies fail because they focus on time itself. How long is it taking you to complete something? Are you getting enough done in the amount of time you have that’s meaningful? This time-based strategy wrongly requires you to focus on the activity, or the action that you’re trying to complete, rather than the result of that action, or the outcome you desire. As Tony Robbins reminds us:, “Three decisions that we all control each moment of our lives: what to focus on, what things mean and what to do in spite of the challenges that may appear.”
By focusing on results – the outcome – and not simply the action, people are accomplishing more in less time. Quite simply, the road toward achieving results and better outcomes is through identifying strategies for truly effective time management.
By focusing too intently on the task at hand, you’re easily distracted from what really matters: your outcome, or what you’re getting from your time. When you ignore time management strategies and get lost chasing the bottom of an endless to-do list, it leaves you feeling sidetracked and overwhelmed, like you’re in a boat and taking on water faster than you can bail.
The best time management strategies involve adopting a way of thinking that identifies what matters most to you, which is your purpose. The more skilled you become at effectively managing your time, the better you’ll be able to master the art of fulfillment.
Tony Robbins' Rapid Planning Method (RPM)
The Rapid Planning Method is the ultimate strategy for effective time management. It’s a life planning system that focuses on results. You can use RPM to transform your entire mindset by turning off the noise, eliminating busy work, and redirecting your attention to the outcomes that have the highest value to you. The Rapid Planning Method is a key strategy for effective time management because it compels you to shift your focus.
What is the Rapid Planning Method? RPM stands for:
- Results-oriented: What you truly care about are results. Otherwise, you’re just marking time, going through the motions. When you set out to accomplish something, work backwards. Yes, backwards. Start by thinking first about the outcome you want to achieve. Be specific, define your goal in terms of something concrete that you can measure. As the legendary writer and thinker Peter Drucker said, “What gets measured gets managed.” For example, if you want to lose weight, will you feel satisfied and successful if you lose one pound over the next year? The more clearly stated outcome is to lose 10, 20 or 67 pounds in a specifically established time frame, like three or six months. Making your outcomes clear is vital if you want to meet them. Clarity is power.
- Purpose-driven: Why do you want to accomplish the outcomes that you do? Why is achieving an outcome a must for you? The why, your personal and specific reasons for wanting something, is the driving force; it is the passion and purpose that will successfully drive you toward your goals. You want to lose weight so you have more energy to be more creative, collaborate with your colleagues, play with your children and enjoy healthy activities with your loved ones. When you keep your purpose in mind and integrate time management strategies, you’re more likely to reach your ultimate goal.
- Massive-action plan: What do you need to do – what action must you take – in order to reach your outcome? It’s tempting, but don’t focus on one or two things – that’s just another to-do list. Instead, brainstorm and write down all the ideas that come to mind. You can decide which actions will have the most power as you work toward that outcome.
In order to lose weight, you have to remove processed foods from your diet and start weight training and engaging in aerobic exercise. These are concrete actions – unleashed musts – that allow you to reach your goal. Transforming the vague into the concrete is a crucial time management strategy.
The RPM system works in tandem with other effective time management strategies, such as results coaching. A Results Coach can help you set specific, measurable goals that align with your unique personal and professional “musts.” The RPM system also helps you get better answers by changing the questions you ask yourself. Don’t ask what you’re going to do; first identify your goal, then ask yourself how you can construct a plan toward achieving it.
“Chunk” your tasks and goals
Focusing on a huge number of tasks and goals can be overwhelming. More importantly, it can derail your productivity. “Chunking” is a strategy for time management that allows you to avoid this problem.
Let’s say you’re about to go grocery shopping. You wouldn’t grab some oranges in the produce area, then head off to get a carton of milk in the dairy section, then find the hand soap, then go back to the produce section to get apples, then back to the dairy section for cottage cheese, then over to get shampoo, etc. That scattered approach will take longer and likely lead to you forgetting something because if your method is scattered, you’re thinking likely is, too.
Chunking organizes everything you want and need to do into manageable categories. These categories are easier for your mind to handle, and when aligned with your values and organized by your desired outcome, the tasks and goals that are more important to accomplish first easily reveal themselves.
Here’s how chunking works:
First, write down your “musts” for this week – the things you have to get done. Once you’ve listed these actions, examine them for common threads. Which relate to money or finances? Place those under the heading of “Finances.” Which relate to family or friends? List those under “Relationships.”
Chunk, or group items that share a common theme. For example, most people believe that exercise is important, but many of those same people don’t exercise regularly – not because they can’t or don’t want to, but because they’re not effectively chunking the tasks surrounding exercising and not making the most of their time. They’re not thinking about what they want – the outcome. Instead, they are focused on what is causing them worry, pain or failure – they are focused on the task of exercising rather than their goal, to be healthier and more energetic.
Instead of getting caught up in the activity, chunk your tasks based on the outcome so you can think about them without stress and accomplish them. If you need to get a new pair of running shoes (expensive and time-consuming), hit the gym twice (painful, time-consuming) and research vitamins you’ve been thinking about taking (boring and time consuming), chunk these tasks together under a heading like, “Fitness.”
With chunking, you can focus your mind on a manageable number of tasks and thus achieve more. Instead of spreading these tasks out over the course of a week, you can get them done at the same time and feel like a weight has been lifted off your shoulders. And you’ll be right.
Combine your N.E.T. time with action
Tony Robbins explains that N.E.T. stands for No Extra Time. N.E.T. time is the hours we spend each week on what are essentially mundane, but necessary, tasks like commuting, running errands or cleaning the house. Instead of letting this time slip by, take action by using the principles of N.E.T. time.
Create a list of websites to visit, audio books and podcasts to listen to and action items you can clear off your list during those otherwise mentally idle moments. As you complete tasks like commuting to work, there’s also no reason you can’t also feed your mind and improve your life. You’re now doubling what you’re putting into those hours, and the yield is exponentially greater. As effective time management strategies go, N.E.T. time plus action is incredibly powerful!
Let’s say you normally get up at 7:00 AM You have enough time to eat a quick breakfast then beat traffic to work, work, then pick up your kids, run errands, make dinner, make sure they get their homework done and go to sleep at a reasonable time. Now, it’s about 9 or 10 PM, so what do you decide to do with the time before you go to sleep? Do you spend it passively watching TV, or is there a book you’ve been meaning to read for months? What if you even changed the time you got up to have an extra hour or two to focus on listening to a podcast or structuring your business plan for the company you want to launch while drinking your coffee?
These highly effective, proven time management strategies can help you live a more fulfilled life, because they’re more than techniques for managing time – they’re tools for transforming the way you think. Success starts with the right mindset, and these time management strategies help you train yourself to focus on what matters most in order for you to live a more joyous, productive life.