A time management system needs milestones and goals in order to be effective. Without deadlines to meet, then it just becomes a system of watching the clock and waiting for the day to end. There are many ways to incorporate your goals into your time management process, and if your day becomes goal oriented, then you will find yourself accomplishing much more in the course of a day.
Developing a goal-oriented approach to time management can help you achieve success in two ways. The first is that you are no longer watching the clock and waiting for the day to end so you can go home. When you set goals for yourself, you are driven by those goals and the clock becomes an instrument you use to ensure that you meet your deadlines. The other advantage to using goals to manage time is that you are able to accomplish more in a day than you could when you were watching the clock. When we base our performance on reaching goals during the day, we can eliminate the things that waste time such as extended phone conversations and Internet surfing.
When you set goals as part of your time management system, it is important to set specific goals with defined criteria. Setting generic goals can make your goals seem unattainable, while using specific and definable goals can help you to complete tasks on time. For example, if the goal you set is to finish all invoicing by the end of the day, then that goal is too vague and encompasses too many tasks. Break down that vague goal into specific goals that involve generating invoices based on various ranges of dates and you can then attack those goals in order and complete the task on time.
Taking on too much can help derail your attempts at creating a time management system based on goals. You need to determine which goals are the right ones to achieve, and avoid being distracted by tasks that are not going to be productive. For example, if you are trying to include tasks such as cleaning your desk as part of the goals you hope to accomplish then you may find yourself getting sidetracked by unimportant tasks. There is a difference between goals and activities. Goals are tasks that are important to your job and your career, while activities can make doing your job a bit easier but are not essential to your success. Schedule activities after you have achieved your goals.
The SMART process is an excellent way to quantify and prioritize goals so that they can become a regular part of your time management routine. The "S" stands for choosing specific goals. Outline exactly what you want your goals to be, and how you intend to reach them. The "M" is to remind you to make your goals measurable. Give them a time limit and develop a system that will allow you to know when the goal is satisfied. This is critical to making your goals a part of time management. The "A" reminds us to make sure the goal is attainable. If you determine a goal is not attainable, then you may need to break it down into smaller goals to make sure the job gets done. The "R" means that you need to keep the goal realistic. The "T" stands for the time frame needed to get the job done. If you pay attention to your SMART system, then you have a better chance of making your goals a integral part of your time management system.
It is easier to set a series of smaller goals if you can identify your main goal or goals. A series of goals should look like an organizational chart. You have your main goals that you need to accomplish, and then you have the series of smaller goals you will use to achieve those main goals. You prioritize the main goals based on importance, and then get to the job of achieving your smaller goals to get the job done. The process of making goals part of your time management program is made easier when you write your goals down, and then check things off as you complete them.