It’s the pot of gold at the end of the time management rainbow: Success. We seek this state of being where we feel in control of our lives, accomplishing our goals and dreams and living in a harmonious balance of work and home. Time management is the means to this end.

In its simplest meaning, time management concentrates our efforts toward the most positive outcome. It puts life in focus, by the minute, by the day, by the month and by the year.

For this reason your day planner becomes more than just a task list and a calendar—it becomes a tool for time management success.

Here are the three keys for better time management with your day planner:

1) Estimate Your Capacity

Before you ever begin assigning yourself tasks, it’s important to determine what needs to be done and how much time it will take to complete it. List everything that needs doing in your organizer’s master task list, and then estimate the time requirements of each task. Follow each one with the minutes it will take to complete in parenthesis. Break down large tasks into achievable steps. Many tasks are open-ended or require more than one sitting, so be sure to indicate the length of time each will occupy.

2) Segment Your Task Time

Always review your calendar for commitments you’ve made in terms of meetings and appointments. The rest of your day should be seen as blocks of time for various tasks. Create your daily task list based on the time available and based on the work that is most important to you. Make certain that you are realistic with the amount of work you hope to accomplish each day. Other work may need to be delegated.

Write task times into your day planner schedule. It’s important to schedule this time conservatively. By allowing the possibility of having extra time, you will be prepared for the unexpected tasks and activities that inevitably arise throughout your day, and you also allow yourself time for brief breaks and educational pursuits such as reading. A good example of this would be allocating a 60-minute task period for a project that may only take you 45 minutes. Avoid overbooking yourself.

3) Track Your Time

Time tracking is not just about keeping tabs on yourself—it’s an educational tool as well. Using your day planner’s journal, record the actual time spent on all of your tasks and activities throughout your day. Stick to this process religiously—write down everything you do. Upon review, you will find an accurate measurement of where your time ultimately goes each day. It will likely surprise you.

The activity shines a spotlight on your productivity and, furthermore, serves as a procrastination-fighting activity because it motivates you to record productive periods of time. Time tracking provides you with the ultimate measure of how successful your time management system is working for you. Get more tips by visiting the AT-A-GLANCE Success Center.

Do you have time management and day planner tips of your own? We invite you to share them here.

[photo by tao_zhyn]

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