Despite all the choices of modern day amenities and luxuries we work more than ever. More than our parents and especially more than our grandparents did back in the day.
Although everyone has the same number of hours in the day, a fair majority of us tend to be huffing and puffing, taxed to get certain tasks done during the same period that others waltz ahead with ease. They accomplish tasks effortlessly and expediently.
How do they do it? I, for one, have always been intrigued by the great time management skills of the successful, especially when it comes to conquering procrastination and increasing productivity.
I would like to reveal the magic formula. My research led me to some profound and percipient books that present how to create the right condition for proficient time management. Of course there’re software programs that help you manage your time and tasks, but changing how you organize and prioritize your daily tasks makes a significant difference to time management. So without further ado, here is a list of great reads to develop your time management techniques to accomplish your projects in life.
Perhaps you can relate, when it comes to time management procrastination is my number one enemy – an inhibitor if you will. I am going to go as far as to say that it’s a common time management issue plagued by many.
Eat that Frog is a metaphorically intriguing book by Brian Tracy that shows you how to take the bull by the horns – so to speak. Tracy was inspired to write this because of a Mark Twain quote: ‘If your job is to eat a frog, it is best to do it in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.’
Basically, the ‘frog’ is the most difficult task on your to-do list. That should be the first thing you tackle at the start of your day. First, you need to decide what the ‘frog’ is and then eat it.
This helps you save precious time as prioritizing work accelerates the completion of your tasks. Tracy uses an 80/20 rule to explain how your activities hugely influence your results: ‘’20% of your activities account for 80% of your results’’.
This is a great book by Atul Gawande which gives a simple solution to dealing with the complexity of modern day; that is to just make a checklist! Checklists don’t only work on a personal level but can also drastically improve organization and efficiency.
To prove the success of a simply checklist, Gawande, a surgeon, talks about how a simple surgical checklist introduced by the World Health Organization, at his suggestion, greatly improved global surgical care and has been called ‘the biggest clinical invention in thirty years’ (The independent).
He recounts many stories of how a checklist can help with various professions with a focus on healthcare organizations – checklists not only improve time management but as well discipline and productivity.
The title of the book refers to the number hours we have in a week, 168 hours, and how to make the most of them. Laura Vanderkam wrote this book after she interviewed numerous, successful, happy, thriving people, and found that their time allocation method was vastly different from the majority of us.
As discussed in Gawande’s book, making lists in the key. These people make priority lists and do the most important stuff first. Vanderkam divides the week into two main categories: home and work. She talks about how important it is to understand your priorities, focus on them and even delegate tasks, that are not necessarily important or are easily outsourced – like lawn mowing.
A mother herself, Vanderkam talks about the importance of focusing on, according to her, the right things; for example, reading to your children or having ‘me’ time. Her advice is to analyze your core competencies. Understand the things you are good at, focus on them, and eliminate the things that don’t bring personal satisfaction. Decide on how your time is best spent, and make a concerted effort to focus on that. Even though, it initially may be challenging it will be worthwhile in the long run.
Kevin Kruse studied a lot of highly productive people by doing surveys and countless interviews before writing this book. He offers insights on how we can double our productivity and have time for the most important stuff in our lives.
In Kruse’s opinion, time is our most precious resource. We need to prioritize our lives and work on the important tasks first. To better manage time, he advises using a calendar rather than making to-do lists.
His tips to overcoming procrastination: learn to say no to things that waste time, and properly manage your emails. Successful people always carry a notepad and use meetings as a last form of communication.
Kruse links productivity to our energy and focus. As they are connected, we need to find time to nourish our mind, body and spirit; ideally during the first hour of our mornings.
This book by David Allen is heralded as one of the most influential books in the business. Though it was first published fifteen years ago, it is still on bestselling lists. David says that for our businesses and productivity to flourish, our minds should have clarity of thought so we can maximize our creative potential.
He advises that we collect data, process it, prioritize our tasks, organize them and then tackle the tasks! Organization and self-discipline are key ingredients for success.
He recommends reviewing your lists and task outcomes in the event that changes are required. The advantages of self-promotion and outcome focusing are also discussed. With increased productivity, you get more done in less time and gain valuable time for other important activities.
With All That Being Said
These are the five books you must read if you are looking to improve your time management skills. They give you the tools to management your projects, professionally and personally, so that you’re not exhausted while completing them.