Better Strategic Time Planning

By Hu Wo (Cuckoo’s Song)


Honest to say, the term `time planning´ is a misnomer, in a lexical sense. Our lifetime is constantly going slowly, steadily and naturally second after second as we are getting age. This means that we can neither control nor manage our time in any way. Despite this, we humans would like to plan our future potential time as much as we could, of course. In actual fact, a thing called time can be widely used, protected, and budgeted in that time is not only one of the most valuable capitalizations in life but also the limited resource available.

How to strategically plan time is founded on our personality, learned skills, self-motivation, self-control, self-discipline, and self-reflection. Here are given ten better strategic time planning for all.


1) See how we spend our time.

Keeping a time log helps determine how we are using our time. We should start the log by recording what we are doing within a time interval and evaluating its results, asking if we did everything that was needed, concluding which tasks require the most time, deciding on the time of day which makes us productive at most, and analyzing to which most of our time is devoted, such as our job, family, recreation, and even personal case. Identifying our time-consuming tasks and settling on where we are investing our time may well run a course of action. Additionally, having a good sense of the amount of time necessary for routine tasks will let us be more realistic about planning and estimating how much time is accessible to other activities.


2) Get our priorities right.

Managing our time effectively and efficiently requires a distinction between what is important and what is urgent. Not all the most important tasks are the most urgent ones, but we like to allow the urgent to dominate our lives. Those activities in our daily lives are categorized into four quadrants in a time management matrix: urgent, not urgent, important, and not important. The activities that are both urgent and important must be done, needless to say. Less time should be spent on unimportant activities regardless of their urgency to gain ample time to focus on those activities that are not urgent, only important. One of the easiest ways to get priorities straight which is urgent and important is to make a list of all the jobs we have to do in order of priority and serial number. Care should be taken to let the list get out of control and not keep multiple lists at the same time. Our very goal is to mark off the highest priority items. In down-to-earth situations, setting a prioritized to-do list motivates us to be able to say no to activities which may be interesting or give a sense of success despite not fitting our priority cases.


3) Make use of a planning tool.

Using a self-planning tool, like electronic planners, pocket diaries, calendars, computer programs, wall charts, index cards, and notebooks, is recommended by experts on time management to develop our productivity. Writing down our tasks, schedules, and memory joggers can free our minds to centre around our priorities, whereas auditory learners would prefer dictating their thoughts instead. The key to one planning tool is that it works for us and can be used consistently. Some remainders of taking up a planning tool are always recording our information on the tool itself while jotting notes elsewhere that have to be transferred later is inefficient, reviewing our planning tool every day, carrying our tool with us, not forgetting to keep a list of our priorities in our planning tool, referring to it often, and holding a back-up system.


4) Get organized.

Disorganization leads to poor time management, that is, it is a classic case of bad planning. Professional organizers get rid of the clutter as usual. A frequently applied method is to set up three boxes or corners of a room _ `Keep´, `Give Away´, and `Toss´ _ by separating the clutter into these items, then immediately discarding items in `Toss´. `Give Away´ may include items to sell, delegate, or discontinue, thus finding a way to eliminate these items, such as a yard scale, a charitable donation, and gifts to friends. With the clutter gone, the next step is to implement a system for handling information, based upon five options: i) Throw it away, delete it, or otherwise give it up, ii) Delegate it, give it to someone else to do, file, or respond, iii) Act on it yourself, then throw it away or file it, iv) File it temporarily until it calls for action or until additional information is received, where follow-up, a tickler file, can be useful for keeping temporary information, and v) File it permanently where we can easily find it later.


5) Schedule our time appropriately.

Even the busiest people find time for anything important that they also want to do. Certainly, scheduling is not merely recording what we have to do, assignments and appointments in particular, but it is making a time commitment to the things which we would like to do. Good scheduling could do with that we know ourselves. Using our time log, we should have agreed on the time period of a day in which we are productive and alert to the maximum before planning our most challenging tasks first, blocking out time for our highly prior activities, and protecting that time from interruptions. If we have waiting time or commuting time, we need to schedule such small tasks as writing a letter, jotting down a shopping list, or reading to capitalize on the time loss, but trying to limit scheduled time, and leaving time for such creative activities as planning, dreaming, or thinking.


6) Delegate help to others.

Delegation refers to assigning responsibility for a task to anyone else, freeing up some of our time for tasks that meet our expertise and beginning with identifying tasks that others can do, then selecting the eligible persons with the respective skills, experience, interest, and authority needed to accomplish the tasks. Being as specific as possible in defining the task and our expectations but permitting the person some freedom to personalize that task is needed. How well this person is progressing and provides any assistance, not taking over the responsibility, occasionally ought to be checked. At last, rewarding the person for a job well done or making suggestions for improvements should be conducted whenever necessary.

7) Stop procrastinating.

We may be putting off our tasks for various reasons, but for the partly possible reason that these tasks themselves sound overwhelming or unpleasant. In the meantime, we had better try breaking down the task into smaller segments that demand less time commitment and result in specific, realistic deadlines. If we are getting trouble started, we may have to complete a preparatory task such as collecting materials or organizing our notes, after which we had best try building in a reward system as we complete each small segment of the task.


8) Manage external time wasters.

Our time might be impacted by external factors imposed by other people and things. However, we can decrease or eliminate the time spent on those factors by implementing such simple tips as

– using voice mails and setting aside time to return calls,

– avoiding small talk and staying focused on the reason for the call,

– standing up while we are talking on the phone, more likely keeping the conversation brief,

– taking any necessary action immediately following the call,

– letting others know that we are at our convenience,

– setting a mutually agreeable time limit for a visit,

– knowing the purpose of the meeting in advance,

– arriving on time,

– using a timed agenda, if needed,

– creating a central area for posting communications such as appointment reminders, announcements, or messages, and

– answering written messages by responding on the margins or bottom of the page.


9) Desist from multi-tasking.

According to psychological studies, multi-tasking does not really save time now that we tend to lose time when switching from one task to the next, resulting in a loss of productivity. What is more, routine multi-tasking is responsible for difficulty in concentrating and maintaining focus when absolutely necessary.


10) Stay healthy.

An important investment of time is nothing but the care and attention we give ourselves. Time to relax or do nothing can rejuvenate both our physical and mental conditions, enabling us to finish tasks more quickly and easily. By our biological clock, priority tasks during our peak time of day, and the time our energy or concentration is at its best should have been scheduled very well. The main reason why it is said is that poor time management will give rise to fatigue, moodiness, and more frequent illness.

I am strongly of the opinion that those who practice a few or more of the above-mentioned better strategic time planning techniques will often find that they are more productive than before, have more energy for the things they need to accomplish, feel less stressed, are able to do whatever they want, get more matter done, relate more positively to others, and even feel better about themselves.