‘We would like to manage our Time better, but we never seem to have the Time’. This sums up the dilemma faced by most of us today.
Time is the elusive fourth dimension in Einstein’s matrix and is well understood to be ever dynamic, signifying change and movement.
The multitasking required today leaves us breathless and wanting more of it. We have often heard ‘I wish there were twenty five hours in the day.’
What is Time Management?
Two sides sum it up-Things we wish to do and the things we wish to avoid doing.
We might wish to: –
· Use time at work more effectively.
- Get more things done in the time available.
- Balance the time we spend at work with more time for our families and ourselves.
- Feel more relaxed and in control of our time.
Things we might wish to avoid: –
- Wasting time.
- Forgetting to do important things.
- Being late for meetings and appointments.
- Feeling stressed and out of control.
We feel threatened or driven by time and become anxious about deadlines, urgent tasks piling up and feel increasing pressure to improve our skills and produce better results. The chances are that if we feel like this at work and elsewhere, we will live the rest of our lives at breakneck speed, unable to take our eyes off the clock.
Some people seem able to use time as if it is a resource like any other. Since they know what their priorities are, they are able to plan the best way to allocate their time. They remain calm and in control, even when unexpected events occur.
We have to understand whether we are in control of time or is it controlling us.
Myths about Time-Management
- If you are efficient, you must also be effective.
- If you want to do a job well, do it yourself.
- There is only one correct way of doing the job.
- You would not get the desired results without putting a lot of work (time) in the job or the task.
- You cannot be productive unless you are busy all the time.
- If you are a careful time manager, there will be no risk, joy or spontaneity in your life.
Let us break the shackles created by these myths to ‘free’ more time for us.
How to Effectively Use Time-Answer the following questions truthfully for self-awareness and answers.
- Are you sure what your main objectives in life are?
- Are you clear about the time you need to spend (vs. are actually spending) on different aspects of your life?
- Do you know as to what you want to be doing in the next 1/3/5/10 years?
- Do you find it easy to identify the most important tasks?
- Do you spend more time than required on the routine work?
- Do you have enough time to spend on the important thinking and planning issues?
- Do you feel anxious or worried about getting the work done?
- Do you know if you really have too much work to do?
- Do you always say ‘yes’ to additional work, even if you are fully loaded?
- Do you cancel leisure or family activities in favor of work?
- Do you prefer to do all the work yourself than delegate some tasks to others?
- Do you see ‘delegation’ as an important part of your role?
- Do you plan what and how to delegate in advance?
- Are you willing to train and support others while they are learning how to do a task you have delegated?
- Do you always know if you have spare time to fit in additional work?
- Do you often take work home or stay late to finish it?
- Do you find it impossible to get through all the work you have to do in a day?
- Are you often late for appointments?
- Do you often put off work till the next day?
- Do you often find it difficult to end a conversation?
- Do you allow people or phone calls to interrupt you?
- Do you have a large pile of reading material to tackle?
Some Techniques for Time Management
These are supplementary to the ones described above, i.e.
- Prioritize, Avoid Overload, Delegate, Plan and Avoid Backlog.
- Make meetings short, crisp and more effective.
- Tackle paperwork efficiently and produce reader friendly reports.
- Read more effectively.
- Avoid procrastination.
- Control interruptions.
- Use telephones and e-mails more efficiently (do not be live or switched on 24X7 to avoid time derailment)
Time is eternal but once lost cannot be regained. Let us learn to use it judiciously, to get the optimum results and the best out of life.