There are a million and one books designed to help us be more successful, be fitter and be smarter. It can be a little daunting just trying to figure out what is most important.
Is it better to exercise in the morning or the evening? Should I do weigh training or cardio?
Should I learn a new technical skill, get better at writing or work on my presentation skills?
Do I network within my industry or with people from other industries?
As you progress through your career you will be faced with a multitude of choices and you will need to work through your options to determine what the right answer is for you.
The best choice I made fairly early in my career was to be organized ... to really work at my time management, because if you can be efficient with your time then you have an ability to introduce change into our routine, and accommodate all of those other commitments that will help you on the road to success.
If you can manage your calendar efficiently then you will know what is possible and what will work best for you. Incidentally I work out in the mornings, because family commitments tended be in the evenings and I could adjust my sleep schedule to accommodate my workout routine in the morning. If I tried to fit it in last thing at night I was far less likely to do it!
If you can figure out priorities then you can focus on what is important. By giving some of my personal family commitments a very high priority I was able to fit in those parent/teacher interviews and sports events while still giving sufficient priority to get my work commitments done. It's not easy, but good time management and priority management achieves the best results.
If you can be disciplined enough to keep a current "To Do" list then you (a) ensure that you do not inadvertently miss any important tasks; and (b) can focus on "doing the work" rather than figuring out what to do. You work on your "To Do" list for a few minutes once or twice a day, and then you just need to follow the plan. You execute the top priority items first meaning that you are at your most productive.
If you are committed to great time management then you learn some clear lessons that will help you for life. Here are a few of mine:
i. Interruptions are a productivity killer ... when you are focused on a task do everything you can to avoid interruptions.
ii. Just because the phone rings or an email arrives it does not mean you need to react to them.
iii. There are certain parts of the day that are better suited to certain tasks ... for example as a salesperson I had good luck contacting clients early in the morning before they got into their day.
iv. You should concentrate on the toughest tasks first, when you are freshest.
v. Crossing tasks off your list is very satisfying.
vi. Every time you change job your system will need to change. As a manager you delegate tasks and tracking those is a different challenge than actually doing your own tasks. As a business owner I wear a number of hats which means having a system to ensure I am not missing tasks for ANY of those roles.
vii. My stress levels are increased when I let my time management discipline slip.
viii. Technology has given us some great tools ... but sometimes paper works best.
ix. You can get great ideas from lots of sources, but you have to decide what works best for you.
x. Time management is a never ending task, both in the execution of your system AND in the evolution of your system!
My contention is that if you practice great time management then you will find a way to get all the things done that will contribute to your success!
"Either run the day or the day runs you." Jim Rohn