I'll make this article short because I know how precious your time is.
The challenge in time management, of course, is to develop habits in which you consistently do what you know you should to achieve your goals. But sometimes managing the priorities on your calendar is easier only when your goals are clear.
So what are you committed to? What goal matters to you so much, personally and professionally, that you will change the way you manage your time to achieve it? When do you want to achieve it? What will you be thinking and feeling once you get there?
Remember, you'll want the "why" to be big enough and important enough to make you pursue the "how."
Keep in mind that you can't actually "manage time." All you can do is decide what to put on your schedule and do the most lucrative and productive things most of the time. You won't be perfect. But fortunately, perfection is not required to achieve your goals.
Here are a few tactics that will help you get more done, accomplish your goals and reduce feelings of being overwhelmed, which are compounded during challenging economic times.
Almost 20 years ago, Dr. John Lee taught me a simple "4 D" formula for time management: Drop. Delay. Delegate. Do.
Dropping: The easiest way to gain more time is to not do something that isn't especially important in the first place. How many things do you think you have to do that you could actually drop without really changing anything? Once you've figured out what those are, drop them. Get them off your list and get them out of your head. Think of one thing right now that you can drop completely. Doesn't that feel better? You just got the gift of time.
Delaying: There are some things that feel more urgent or important than they actually are until you compare them to your actual goals. What can you delay, perhaps indefinitely, that will free up time now to do more important things?
Delegating: There is a rule in economics called "comparative economic advantage." It simply means that if you generate $100 an hour with your time and you can pay someone else $25 per hour to take over less important activities, you free yourself to do more $100 per hour work. This is a good deal. What can you delegate to others? The key, of course, is to actually use the extra time you gained from delegating to pursue more lucrative work. If you hire someone to delegate to and then use that time to read the newspaper, you are not getting the value of the comparative economic advantage.
Doing: What best helps you advance your goals? Your most important activities likely include meeting with clients, asking for referrals and making follow-up calls to those referrals to schedule appointments with them. You likely also plan and prepare for upcoming client meetings and focus on professional development. And lastly, you work on building your team so you have willing and capable people to delegate to.