Have you ever found yourself trying to run faster than time because you have so much to do? Wouldn’t you rather be dancing in tune with time instead of racing with it? Think of time management as little steps you need to take with each project and you will find that not only do you get more done, you actually feel better doing it. When trying to dance with time, learn the T.A.P.P. steps. These steps are: list tasks and priorities, schedule appointments and priorities, and consider people when planning. When trying to dance to time’s melody, you can think of it in terms of the three action steps (or verbs) noted in the T.A.P.P. Step* diagram: List, Schedule, and Consider. Or you can look at it as the four nouns that make up the components of the dance: Tasks, Appointments, Priorities, and People (T.A.P.P.).
Let’s first look at time management the traditional ‘verb’ way.
- List tasks or to-do items and then set priorities to do them.
- Schedule your appointments and cancel any that may overlap which are not personally helping you meet your goals for the day.
- Consider others only if it helps you get things done.
Doesn’t that sound like fun? Wouldn’t you love to be tag-team racing with others using this time management philosophy? If you were dancing with someone using this philosophy, do you think it would matter to them if they stepped on your feet?
Now let’s look at time management using the four nouns as our guide instead of the verbs.
- Tasks that are necessary should be written down do you don’t forget to do them. Believe it or not, just creating a task list and following it can dramatically increase your effectiveness. After making a list of tasks, then you must determine which are the most important items to accomplish and when is the best time to do them. If a task is necessary, it needs to be part of a planned effort, plan for it by making an appointment with yourself for the necessary time. If it is not necessary, delay it until it becomes necessary or may be eliminated all together. A good task list can also reduce time spent creating progress reports or updating project plans.
- Appointments that are important should be kept. If it is not an important appointment, then someone else should go to the meeting instead, cancel the appointment, or not agree to make one in the first place. If the decision is to schedule the appointment, then a planning calendar is the tool to use to schedule the appointment. Having and using a planning calendar will insure important appointments are in writing for remembrance. Using a planning calendar means always listing appointments and referring to the appointment listing each day so appointments and meetings will happen on time. In addition to making appointments with individuals or groups, it is important for to make time for yourself in order to accomplish important things.
- Priorities insure doing the important things to meet your goals. Typically priorities are set as high, medium, or low. Then you do the tasks in order of priority assigned: high first, then medium, and then if time low. Remember to assign higher priorities to those tasks that will lead to accomplishing goals or important projects. When scheduling time with yourself, put high-priority tasks during your individual peak performance time.
- People are instrumental to both important appointments and accomplishing high priority tasks. It is therefore imperative to consider other people’s needs and opinions. Learn to utilize and value the people who can help with meeting your goals. Others can help with meeting deadlines and accomplishing tasks and goals. Different people have different skills, talents, abilities, and desires. Each person can contribute where they best fit. Do not be afraid to ask for help or delegate responsibility. Do not disappoint someone by not meeting a commitment or missing and appointment, their time is just as valuable as yours.
Does this sound like a time management plan you can live with? Would utilizing the T.A.P.P. steps make you feel like you were dancing with time instead of racing against it? If you answered yes to either question, then why not try it for a couple of months? What have you got to lose? Not much other than an old mindset. What have you got to gain? Hopefully, better utilization of your time and improved relationships.
*NOTE: These T.A.P.P Steps are from the book “T.A.P.P. Steps in Time Management.”