For many of us, time management feels like a magical key to success. We have a to-do list that grows faster than we can work. We invest in systems, books and planners, all in hopes of mastering our time. If we could only find the right trick to stay on top of it and get things done!

Meanwhile, we blame our woes on scheduling or the structure of our tasks--anything but ourselves. But the only things fully in our control are ourselves and our time.

You can reassert that control and learn to be an expert in time management without instituting new systems or elaborate processes. It's as simple as three words:

1. Delegate.

Every day, ask yourself what you can delegate. Instead of adding more and more to your to-do list, look at the most immediate items and start delegating them to others who are qualified to get them done--or, if nothing else, who can be taught. Leaders by nature like being in control, but no leader ever achieved greatness by doing everything themselves. For every task you don't like to do, every chore you secretly dread and put off, there's probably someone within reach who's willing and can do it well. They get a chance to shine and you get things done.

2. Eliminate.

Get rid of all the unnecessary items on your list and instead focus on the most important things. Organize your to-do list by priority and start eliminating anything that doesn't belong in a top category. By helping you focus on the most important tasks, setting clear priorities and boundaries helps keep you productive, not just busy. Eliminate anything that doesn't help you succeed or move toward your vision of success. Once you're free of those distractions, keep a sharp focus on the work you do, your specific role, and the determination with which you carry it out. Remember, if you say yes to everything, you're not making a priority of anything. Set priorities and boundaries and live by them.

3. Accelerate.

Once you've mastered the basics of delegating and eliminating tasks, you can start moving into the more advanced skill of accelerating your intentions. Set aside 15 minutes a day to work on a long-term goal. You may end up working longer, but 15 minutes is enough to make a start. And remember, perfection is the enemy of progress. The best way to get things done is simply to begin, and the idea of acceleration is to find a way instead of finding an excuse.

Your future is created by what you do today, not tomorrow, so focus on being productive instead of being busy. Stay tuned in to what's important and delegate, eliminate and accelerate as part of your daily processes.

Time management can be as complicated as you want to make it, but I highly recommend this lazy person's system of getting things done. It's worth doing. A well-organized life finds time for everything that's important, which in turn leads to effective action, productivity and ultimately success.

Published on: Feb 1, 2018