Every day has only 24 hours – and this applies to all people. Some people are constantly under pressure due to lack of time. This article is about how you can learn to manage your valuable time more efficiently.
In reality we cannot manage time, we can only manage ourselves and our relationship with time. After all, how we use (or utilize) our time is largely a matter of habit. And habits are not that easy to change.
To organize and manage our time – and generally our life- we need to clarify our objectives, this means we need to identify what to organize and make sure we know where we want to be and be ready to accept the possible ‘cost’. In order for us to be able to change how we operate, we first need to ‘consider’ and understand how we use our time now.
How do you usually spend your time:
- Interruptions from others (telephone calls – visits)
- Doing work that should be assigned to others
- Lack of adequate information about what you have undertaken to do
- Unclear priorities
- Lack of planning
- Stress and tiredness
- Inability to say «no»
- Lack of organization in your surroundings, and that also disrupt you
- Lack of flexibility – very tight, rigid and unrealistic planning are some factors that have the ability to swallow your time!
In addition, disorganization and misuse of our time is supported and maintained by the following perceptions:
- ‘Leave it for one more day’, never mind we will do everything tomorrow
- I perform better under pressure
- Others are delayed, why not me?
- I cannot start something if I do not know exactly how to finish it
- I cannot be under pressure, I want to be free
- I cannot deny my help to others
- Better to do everything myself, I have to be in control
- I do not have time to deal with the organization and management of my time
The «chaos» and the disruption may mean lack of motivation or even avoid lack of accountability.
In these cases the problem is not as «obvious» as one – small or large-difficulty in organizing and managing time. You may need to locate and review your perceptions about the responsibilities, incentives and priorities and wonder who is the one who «loses» besides you by this attitude.
If you are resisting the idea of time management because you prefer to be more free and spontaneous, it might help to think that the effort is not aimed at making us ‘slaves’ to one more schedule. Rather is to liberate us from stress and inconvenience created from the bad management of our time.
What you can do to manage your time better?
The skills needed for time management are planning, organization, self-control and delegation (delegating responsibilities to others). In that respect the following 16 tips can be useful:
1. Log your activities
Keep a weekly diary of activities and record for 2 -3 weeks everything you do per hour: when you’re awake, how much time you allocate for everyone, how much time you did nothing special or important, how much time you rest, sleep etc.
2. Clear out your obligations
Locate the points on which you could make some changes and clear out which of these are actually your obligations and responsibilities or if they are obligations you undertook without having enough time either by habit or because you did not say no.
3. Identify your deadlines
Write down what you should do and when it must be completed, divide the activities per day / week and long-term goals, to get a clear picture of what you have to do and when.
4. Do you forget personal and social activities
The activities and objectives should not only include professional activities or other obligations, but also personal and social activities. Your program should cover all your needs.
5. Organize your goals
Organize your goals based on two criteria: degree of urgency and importance:
a) Should be done today – tomorrow, etc.,
b) Should be done at ‘that date’. Set a date,
c) Can postpone it for so many days,
d) Can ask someone else to do it
Start from the most important and urgent
When you delegate something to someone else: you need to decide what is it, who is best qualified to undertake it, what information you should pass etc. Mainly you have to undertake the responsibility together and accept the fact that it will not be executed as exactly you would have done it.
7. Identify your priorities
Locate deadlines, expired items, etc. These should be in the top of your list!
8. Clean up your list
Make a list of everything you think is not worth doing and do not do it!
Concentrate only on one item at a time. Otherwise, if while dealing with something you think everything you can do after (tomorrow, the rest of week, next month, the rest of your life…), most likely you will get bored and disappointed. It is like every time you eat you think all meals you must eat in your life!
10. Work environment
Create a suitable environment to work, one that fits your way.
11. Be realistic
Make sure that your objectives are realistic and do not try for the impossible.
12. Plan for the unpredicatable
Include in your programme (schedule) unpredictable items and situations (e.g. problems with the computer): allow an extra time gap to adjust your program if necessary.
13. Motivate your self
Do not let boredom to discourage you if what you have to complete is boring. Find motivation: consider the advantages when you finish, like the feeling of satisfaction, relief and freedom that will get. Do not underestimate the boring obligations (eg home cleaning and other tasks related to running your home). When neglected they tend to become a mountain!
14. Say “NO”
Learn to say «no» in other activities, requests, people who eat (utilize) your time (unless indeed that very moment is necessary for your to help them). Turn off your phone and lock the door, to avoid unnecessary interruptions from others.
15. Utilize your capabilities
Use your biological rhythms to guide you: locate and utilize the hours of the day you’re most active and productive.
Give yourself the right and excuse that in some days you may not be productive. If nothing else, you will have the chance to be more productive in other days!
Time management is a skill that needs time to master and bring results. Ultimately, time management will give you the extra time you need to be able to enjoy what is most important for you!