Time management is crucially important. Without good time management practices, you are unlikely to achieve goals. You are unlikely to lead effectively. Your success becomes further out of reach because you are in a competition with yourself for precious time. There are only 24 hours each day of it!

Here are five best practices in time management that will allow you to become a better leader.

  1. Define your top goals and priorities

To achieve your goals and priorities, you have to plan for them. A key aspect of planning is making sure that your time is devoted top goals and leading priorities. The reason is simple. If you end up spending most of your time on less important goals and priorities, those are the ones that get accomplished.

You need a thought-through list of what your top goals and priorities are. Include both job-related and personal ones.

  1. Develop an action plan for the top goals and priorities

Once you know your top goals and priorities, develop an action plan for its achievement. Perhaps a top job-related goal is to secure a new job, for example. Write down the steps you need to do. These could include determining the best place to search for job postings, searching job postings, choosing jobs to respond to, developing your resume, tailoring it to the job description, and sending it out.

Once you’ve done this for all your top goals and priorities, it’s time to make a to-do list.

  1. Create a to-do list

Your to-do list for days, weeks, and months is created from the steps you need to do. Perhaps you decide to spend an hour each day searching job postings, for example. That goes on your to-do list for the day. Five hours a week goes on the to-do list for the week, which is a compilation of every day. Roughly 20 hours will be compiled onto your monthly to do list.

  1. Minimize distractions

Distractions have scuttled many great management plans. You need to commit to accomplishing your to-do lists because that’s how you’ll accomplish your goals. The hard part of distractions is that many of them, like checking e-mail or talking on the phone, do need to be done.

Make a plan. Only check your e-mail 3 times per day, in the morning, after lunch, and late in the afternoon. That minimizes any distractions from e-mails. If social media tends to eat your available time, limit yourself to a certain number of minutes.

  1. Do the most important tasks first every day

Even the best-laid plans for time management can’t always be achieved. Sometimes, tasks take longer than expected. Other times, material that comes in each day has to take precedence. A good plan to counterbalance this is to determine your most important tasks every day and do them first.

Say that your job-search goal is the most important. You need to look at job postings. If you find yourself too tired to do it after work, for example, perhaps you should do it early in the morning before going to work. That way, it will be done before life intervenes later in the day.

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