Time mastery is a major key to reaching your goals. Why are some people more successful than others? They may not have more intelligence, drive, or talent, but their careers take off and success seems to come easy for them. One key is that they’ve learned the secrets of time mastery.

Legendary football coach Bobby Bowden said…

“There are three things you can do with time: waste it, spend it, or invest it.”

We all have the same amount of time: one week consists of seven days, 168 hours, or 10,080 minutes. The difference between our levels of achievement lies in what we do with that time. Learning time mastery involves becoming efficient with those minutes. When it comes to time, successful people have learned to be organized and self-disciplined. They use time mastery to prepare themselves for achieving their goals.

Time MasteryEight steps to time mastery:

1. Clarity.

This is the most important component, because it anchors all the others. Clarity is knowing what end result you want, when you want it, and why it’s so important to you. Focus on getting this established first.

2. Goals.

The percentage of the population who set goals are better with time mastery and are more successful. Goals are building blocks toward your end result, or objective. They can also be measuring sticks – markers that show your progress as you reach them.  A very important aspect of setting goals is to write them down. Many people don’t like to do this because seeing them on paper adds pressure. They feel more like failures if they don’t hit their marks, and they don’t like the accountability. But failing to write down your goals can sabotage your success.

3. Plan of Action.

This concrete plan outlines specific steps you will take to achieve your goals. If it doesn’t line up perfectly with your goals, you’re wasting time.

One way to create a plan of action

Get a piece of paper and a pen, dividing the sheet into one column for each goal. Let’s say you have three major goals. Draw three columns and put one goal at the top of each. Underneath the goals, brainstorm the action steps it will take to get there. Now analyze these steps and prioritize them, putting them in rank order. Re-write them in sequential order by importance. Also consider the goals at the top of each column and prioritize them as well, deciding which you want to get done first. This document can become a road map to guide you in the daily tasks that will get you to your end result.

4. To-Do List.

It is shocking how few people create a list of actions they intend to complete. These items should come directly from your plan of action and should move you toward achieving your goals. The best time to create your to-do list is on the last day of your week. If your week starts on Monday, sit down on Sunday afternoon to write your list for the week and also for the next day. The to-do list keeps you on track. When you complete items, check them off. This gives you self-esteem and a feeling of accomplishment.

“By doing your list today, your subconscious works for you while you’re asleep.” – Brian Tracy

5. Priorities.

Analyze your to-do list and prioritize the tasks, putting them in rank order. Carefully consider each item to see which is the best use of your time. Ask yourself, “Will this task get me closer to achieving my goals?” Remember the Pareto principle: 20 percent of your activities produce 80vpercent of your results. Figure out which items will be most productive. Work on high revenue producing tasks. Prioritizing your list will also help you be less likely to get distracted.

Practical tips on prioritizing

When you analyze your to-do list, rank each item into one of these five categories:

1) I must do.  This is top priority. Do these tasks first.

2) I should do. These are the next steps after the top priorities are done. 

3) I’d like to do. Tasks in this category would be good to do, but they’re not essential. For example, meeting someone to build a relationship over coffee. It’s a common mistake to mis-categorize these tasks as top priority and spend too much time on them, not getting the most important things done.

4) I can delegate it. Think about your usual hourly rate and analyze how much time you spend doing tasks that would pay you less. Be smart. Get somebody else to write your blog or create your graphic design for a one-sheet or business card. Hire a kid to cut your grass.

5) I can eliminate it. Some items have no value toward achieving your goals. You might think, “Why would you even write something that will be eliminated?” Sometimes you may not realize until it’s on the list that it doesn’t need to be there.

6. Focus.

Narrow your focus to one thing at a time. Many people are diversified, maybe with multiple businesses, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But no matter how many different tasks are on your list, you have to do one thing at a time to completion. If you start a project, then put it down and pick it up later, and keep doing that, it will take you much longer to complete. Also, handle things once. For example, when you go through your mail, don’t flip through it and then set the stack aside to deal with later. Deal with each piece as it is in your hand, and then you’re done with it. I just created a new file at the front of my file system. It’s labeled “Attention now!” This helps me focus on important, immediate action items.

7. Deadline.

Establish a deadline or timeline. Put a little pressure on yourself by not giving yourself too much time. If the deadline is too far away, you won’t meet your goals effectively.

8. Urgency.

Time mastery is about doing things now! Procrastination doesn’t get it done. Seize the day – all 1,440 minutes of it. Master those minutes and make them work in your favor. Take action quickly! 

Time mastery is one of the toughest but most important things you can do. It’s not a difficult process, but it does require organization, planning, and self-discipline. Follow these eight steps to master time and see how fast you can achieve your dreams!