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What is the best use of my time right now?

Alan Lakein, the well-known author on personal time management - his fans include Bill Clinton, is credited with several key thoughts including, "What is the best use of my time right now?" and "Time = Life, Therefore, waste your time and waste your life, or master your time and master your life."

This checklist brings together his tips on “How he saves time” from his book ‘How to Get Control of Your Time and Your Life’ which has sold over 3 million copies.

1. Count all time as “On-time” and try to get satisfaction (not necessarily accomplishment) out of every minute:

i.      try to enjoy whatever   are doing

ii.    build on success, don’t waste time regretting failures, and don’t feel guilty about what you don’t do

iii.   there is always enough time to do the important things

2. Continually examine old ‘time management habits’ for elimination or streamlining:

i.      have your office close enough to home to be able to walk to work

ii.    only read newspapers occasionally, instead skim headlines

iii.   don’t own a television set

3. Set yourself lifetime goals:

i.      revise monthly

ii.    identify activities each day to do that further your goals

4. Plan first thing in the morning and set priorities for the day:

i.      keep a list of specific items to be done each day, arrange them in priority order, and then do your best to get the important ones done as soon as possible

ii.    schedule your time months in advance in such a way that each month offers variety and balance as well ass “open time” reserved for “hot” topics

5. Work smarter rather than harder:

i.      do first things first

ii.    ask yourself, “Would anything terrible happen if I didn’t do this priority item?” If the answer is no, don’t do it

iii.   start with most profitable parts of large projects and you’ll often find that it is not necessary to do the rest

iv.  cut off non-productive activities as quickly as possible

v.    give yourself enough time to concentrate on high priority items

vi.  concentrate on one thing at a time

vii. always use the 80/20 rule and focus on the items that have long term benefits

6. If you seem to be procrastinating, ask yourself: “What am I avoiding?” – and then try to confront that thing head on:

i.      go down your To Do list without skipping over the difficult items

ii.    keep pushing and be persistent when you sense you have a winner

iii.   set deadlines for yourself and for others

7. Focus on:

i.      working alone creatively in the morning and use the afternoons for meetings, if necessary

ii.    listening actively in every discussion

iii.   not wasting other people’s time (unless it’s something that really matters to you)

iv.  delegating everything you can: have someone screen mail, e-mails and phone calls, and handle all routine matters

v.    process each piece of paper, each admin item only once

vi.  generating as little paperwork as possible AND throw away everything you possible can

vii. dealing with all ‘trivia’ in a once a month session

viii.        keeping small talk to a minimum during working hours

8. Relax and ‘do nothing’ rather frequently’:

i.      try not to think of work at weekends

ii.    recognise that inevitably some of your time will be spent on activities outside my control and don’t fret about it

9. Continually ask yourself “What is the best use of my time right now?”

Developed by CTMfile, based on Alan Lakein's book 'How to get control of your time and your life'.

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