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Ph.D., CSP, CDR, US Navy Ret.,
CPAE Speaker Hall of Fame

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5 Ways to Find Out if You are Maximizing Your Time

The way you handle your time determines your level of success. If you give in to time-wasting activities and find yourself thinking “I’m behind schedule again” you need to revisit your time management skills. If you always meet deadlines, are satisfied with most of your results, and are always at the top of your game, then you are on the right track.

Your time management skills are the key to living your life with your full purpose on a daily basis and achieving the goals you set.

While some people always seem to be struggling, others are consistently ticking things off their to-do list, practicing self-improvement, meeting deadlines, and making the most of their time.

Why? These people use their time effectively, and they recognize its significance in attaining their goals.

When you recognize the importance of work-life balance, routine exercise, as well as taking breaks in between your busy schedule, you have good time management skills. So, how often do you take breaks? Is physical exercise as important as your work or study? Do you make time for social or personal relationships as much as your professional ones?

Are you the master of your time?

Here are 5 indications that prove you are:

1.You stick to your schedule.

This means you run the day, not the other way around.

*You remain on schedule. Even with daily interruptions, you are able to stay the course.  *You complete your tasks on time, and don’t allow distractions to veer you off-course. *You set up tomorrow’s to-dos today and focus on one thing at a time.
*You focus on what you are doing in that moment, as opposed to worrying too much about other details.

If this is an accurate description of how you handle your schedule, then you are making the most of your time.

2.You plan ahead.

Do you have a plan for what you will do one week and one month from now? If you do, then you are on the right path. Planning ahead means setting weekly, monthly, and yearly goals, and adjusting your schedule to achieve those goals.

Perhaps you have taken it a step further and have planned the steps to take after every accomplishment. You know what you will focus on after reaching your current goal, and you are constantly looking for ways to fine-tune your processes to set even higher expectations.

You accept that anything is possible, and you know that things may not turn out the way you expect them to. You plan for contingencies and know which path to take in case of a failure, a challenge, or setback.

3.You prioritize.

You have a list of priorities that you review often, and you don’t allow crises or delays to derail your focus.  I use a white board in my office.  When I look up, I see my priorities for the day, week, month, and year, so that is I have some spare time, I can focus on what is most important.
What are your MITs?  MITs are your Most Important Tasks.  Those are what NEED to be accomplished within specified deadlines.  Those are jobs which need to be done the right way and on time. It means you don’t set aside your MITs when something better comes along, or if you don’t feel like doing them.  You have prioritized which means you have already made the decision to get those accomplished.
You make time for new things, but never at the expense of your top priorities.
Prioritizing task means you are committed to doing those first.  You make time for what is most important.

4.You avoid multitasking.

Multitasking that is distracting gets us off course.  Multitasking like listening to music while folding laundry is helpful.  It is important to know the difference between tasks that take your thinking time, and tasks which do not.  Studies show that we cannot effectively operate at full brain capacity for more than 4 hours a day.  We need the break in routine from tough thinking.  We also know that for projects that require 100% of brain power, we cannot be both working on a project and talking on the phone and filling in the calendar.  To avoid being distracted, focus on doing one thing at a time, and say NO to interruptions.  When you easily say no to distractions, and you can quickly refocus, you have mastered that aspect of time management. When you focus on your most important work, delegate the rest, and produce exceptional or satisfying results, you know the best ways to use your time.

5.You cheerfully say NO.

Another sign that you are making the most of your time is the ability to decline being tasked and distracted by others. This means you don’t entertain time-wasting activities or suggestions when you are scheduled to be working. You pay attention to present tasks and switch off notifications when working. You can say no to others when the invitation is a distraction.

BONUS: Another sign that you are making the most of your time is that you are constantly improving yourself, personally as well as professionally. You set aside time for personal development, such as reading books, researching your industry, or meeting with a coach or mentors as you search for new ways to advance your knowledge and skills.

If you have noticed that you are the master of your time and are happy with the way you handle it, keep at it and continue to cultivate your time management skills for even better results.




  1. Kathy Greenberg

    Great article! I just started a new job today and these tips will allow me to manage my time most effectively, both on and off the job.

    • Mary Kelly

      Thank you, Kathy! Hope your new job is going well. 🙂


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