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Aligning Your Time With Your Priorities

If you’ve tried researching ways to approach time management, you’ll know that the majority of the top search results focus on tactics; turning off your phone notifications, organizational apps, making to-do lists, or planning out your entire week.

Tactics are only useful when you have first committed to a mindset that helps you align your time with your priorities. The starting point is to reflect on your current beliefs about time.

Think about your beliefs about time. Do you believe you have autonomy in the way you use your time? Who do you think ultimately has control over your time? How much value do you see in using reflection as a tool to help align your time with priorities?

The beliefs you hold about time inspire your time management actions and the decisions you make and determine how you operate.

When it comes to learning how to align your time with your priorities, remember that there are always external factors that you can’t control, or can’t control fully that will impact how you spend your time. Our recent pandemic revealed the impact that outside forces can have on your day-to-day life. Part of aligning your time with your priorities means knowing the difference between factors you can control and influence vs. those that are out of your control.

Once you have a clear foundation and awareness of your beliefs you can then develop your time skills and time tactics to align with your beliefs.

Time Skills - Time skills are sets of internal competencies that help you manage your time. Skills are developed over time with practice. There are eight skill areas associated with managing time and each of these skills can further be broken down into smaller sets of skills.

For example, delegation is one of the eight time skills, which can be broken down into more specific skills as follows:

  1. Discerning What You Should Delegate - your ability to define what you should spend your time on and what would be suitable to delegate. For you to develop this skill you need to reflect regularly on your role and the priorities of your department to help you determine how you should allocate time and tasks across your team. You also need to understand what tasks you attribute the highest value to.

  2. Assessing Your Team’s Skills and Interests - your ability to assess your team’s skill and interest levels for specific tasks requires strong observation and analytical skills.

  3. Communicating Clearly - your ability to communicate clearly, particularly your ability to articulate clearly what success looks like for a specific task or project.

  4. Holding Accountability - your ability to inspire people to be accountable and then engage in regular conversations about progress. This also requires your ability to track projects at a high level so you can be aware of when expectations or deadlines were not met. This can even include your efficiency at structuring meetings and other check-in processes to ensure progress.

Time Tactics - Time tactics are carefully planned out strategies and tangible actions you take in order to manage and control your time. There are an endless number of time tactics to try.

To help you understand the big picture of what it means to align your time with your priorities use this convenient infographic that outlines everything in this article in more detail.

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