Time management is something many people struggle with. The secret to managing your time effectively is knowing what you want to do and when you will do it. This way, you stay proactive and in "execute" mode rather than reactive in "catch up" mode.
But managing your time is easier said than done. When the alarm clock starts beeping for you to wake up and exercise because it seemed like such a great idea the night before, it’s easy to turn that early morning siren into a digital projectile. You hurl it as far across the room as possible because the thought of sweating at that particular moment in time makes you want to cry.
However, if you don’t get up, you’ll be reiterating the same habit loop of unfulfillment later in the day. It’s when you don’t realize your purpose that you start feeling emotional tension, and subsequently become a “grumpy pants.”
In fact, what you focus on is a direct reflection of you. Values drive behavior and behavior determines results. Here are three strategies to maximize your time:
1. Have a purpose.
Purpose offers clarity and direction. It generates the energy you need to be productive because it’s something you believe in. It’s much easier to work towards something when we know what that “something” is. Additionally, a purpose offers feedback as it summons you back towards true north when your behavior begins to fall off course.
To identify what drives you, ask yourself where you enjoy spending time compared to where you must spend your time. Are they the same? If not, it may be time to realign.
2. Make two lists.
I know, not exactly intuitive to the whole time management concept but hear me out. Take a sheet of paper and draw a vertical line down the center. On one side, write the day’s tasks that are important for you to accomplish, such as exercising, spending time with the kids, or reading for just 20 minutes on your own.
Realizing important items reduces the pressure of having to tend to the second column, which are the urgent items. There are urgencies that are habitual, such as hallway conversations, and urgencies that arise out of nowhere, such as that annoying inbox chime that seems to demand immediate attention. Push the urgent items until the next day until your important items are fulfilled.
3. Be predictable.
When urgencies arise, they throw your daily routine out of whack because the tasks you planned on finishing get pushed to the back burner. Remedy this by creating a set schedule for when you will check email, workout or socialize. The more predictability you can introduce into your schedule, the more opportunities you’ll be aware of where you can interject urgencies when they arise.
This article originally appeared at entrepreneur.com