One of the keys to getting the most out of your time is developing the ability to ask yourself the right questions at the right time. This only takes a few seconds before you begin any given task. More often than not, you will find these few seconds will present new and better ways of doing what needs to be done.
While it is important to manage your time with calendars, diaries and daily plans, effective time management also requires that you manage yourself.
Before you set about any task, big or small, stop and ask yourself whether this is the best use of your time. Perhaps there are other, better ways of achieving the same result. Or maybe it is a task that you are not particularly suited to that another person could do in half the time, in which case you might want to delegate.
If you do decide to take on the task yourself, ask yourself what is the best way to complete it quickly and easily. It only takes seconds to ask yourself these questions and listen to the answers that come.
As time goes on you will get better at this. One of the most important things to do is to learn how to ask the right questions. In general, your questions should begin with the word ‘what’. This focuses your attention and evokes clarity. The remainder of the question needs to ensure that it opens up possibilities, is solution oriented, elicits information and moves you forward.
Here are some examples of powerful ‘what’ questions that would help you focus better on a particular task and make more effective use of your time:
“What is the most important thing for me to focus on at the moment?”
“What would enable me to use my time more effectively?”
“What isn’t getting done that needs doing?” And added to that, “What will it take to get this done?”
“What is the next step for me in this moment?”
These questions can also be used when considering more long-term goals. For example, “What do I want my life to look like in five years?”.
Once you have asked any question you need to take a little time, perhaps one minute, to listen to the response that comes to you. You may find that what comes up in your response is clear enough and you now know the best way forward.
However, you may find that your response lacks clarity. It may include all sorts of thoughts and ideas, but no clear way forward. In this case, it can be a good idea to take note of the thoughts that come to you and break the problem down into smaller parts to find the best way forward. You may find there are more specific questions you need to ask.
However, for the smaller tasks in our day-to-day professional and personal lives clear answers usually come quite easily and quickly. So, before you move on to your next task take a little time to consider whether it is the best use of your time and if so, how you can complete it in a time effective manner.