One of the best pieces of time management I’ve ever heard is to do the most important thing first. I’ve also heard that you should complete the task that you dread the most. Often, they are one and the same.
For example, I thoroughly enjoy writing this blog. However, to succeed at it, I need to carve time to develop topics and research them. When I don’t do that, I’m left at day’s end realizing the clock is ticking, and I still haven’t written my blog.
Today is one such day. I spent a few hours developing ideas, and I’m really excited to work on those topics, which will come later this summer as they’re tied around specific dates or the upcoming NFPW conference. However, what I really needed to do today is write today’s blog. It’s now after 6 p.m., and it hit me that I should have written today’s blog first and then done research for additional topics.
The same holds true at work. Fortunately, I’m more successful in the office. I write down three things each morning that I must complete that day. I spend as much time as possible working on the first one. Then I invariably have a series of meetings. When I next have a chunk of time, I finish the first item before moving to the next one. I don’t always succeed in finishing all three, but then I simply put the one or two that do not get finished at the start of the next day’s list.
The items often involve planning and strategizing for some event, meeting or report that won’t even happen for a few weeks. Yet, I know that is where I need to spend my time.
The key is to remain focused on the most critical assignments. How do you spend your time?