Are you someone who makes lists of all the things you need to do? At the end of the day when you review your list, are you disappointed because you havent accomplished as much as you would have liked. Does this sound familiar to you?

We hear a lot about time management and how we need to organize ourselves and manage our time more effectively. In order to regulate our time, new ways of thinking and being need to be developed. Our attitudes and beliefs need to be identified and at times altered in order to make beneficial changes. We need to develop self management strategies. When we manage ourselves better we tend to be less overwhelmed, more productive and happier.

There are various models for time management. One is making daily and/or weekly lists, then prioritizing which items are the most important and tending to those first. Of course the challenge is that is if you dont like some of the tasks, you probably tend to avoid doing them. (I know this strategy intimately.) It also does not account for all of the complications which arise nowadays on our job. Emails, voice mails urgent requests which must be dealt with immediately, or conference calls; all of the modern technology which has made our lives easier and more complicated at the same time. We are generally expected to do more in less time and with less support.

Steven Covey in his book, First Things First breaks tasks down into 4 quadrants:

* Urgent and Important, * Not Urgent and Important * Urgent and Not Important * Not Urgent and Not Important

There is a great deal of value in this model and certainly gets one thinking about how to define the many things one has to do. The difficulty is that important projects can become urgent if one has procrastinated and that isnt necessarily a helpful way to operate. It would also be relevant to identify what is important to you and spend time doing that as well, because it might never become urgent. For example, your family may be very important to you, but you frequently miss your childs school or sporting events. Or your partner wants to spend more time with you, but somehow you dont make it happen. Its important, but not urgent. The other concern is when do unimportant things get tended to.

So how can we get things done in ways which are more productive and less stressful? David Allen, author of Getting Things Done, states that it is not about managing time, but rather about managing our actions. What would it be like for you to fully dedicate 100% of your attention to whatever task was present, of your own choosing with no distraction? Allen says it is possible to get things done with minimal effort in both your personal and professional life while staying relaxed. Athletes describe it as being in the “zone.” His strategy is to first get you thinking. What is something you want to accomplish? What outcome do you want to achieve and what is the very next action you need to do in order to move your project forward? Try this exercise and notice if there were any changes in your mood and perspective.