Since the beginning of time, we have been a population preoccupied with the concept of time. Unfortunately the term “Time management” creates a false impression of what a person is able to do. Time can’t be managed and is uncontrollable. However, we can manage ourselves and choose how we use time.
We measure daily activities, progress, even distances in terms of days, hours, or minutes. Most important, we think of money in terms of time. “Time is money” is a phrase often heard in the business world. Our job productivity is often related to the time consumed in performing specific tasks. In many businesses, compensation and services are paid for in terms of rates per hour.
Do you use time, or does it use you? Do you stay on top of things, or do they stay on top of you? To a very large degree, your success will depend on whether or not you master the art of effective time organization. However, time management is a skill few people master and is one that most people need. If you really want to improve the use of your time and your productivity and at the same time feel good and effective, you should start by building a strategy around your time, evaluating your current behaviors and habits.
Time management is a skill, a technique, a mindset, and a lifestyle. It can be adopted by anyone who wants to:
- Feel in more control
- Attain more out of life
- Reduce stress
- Realize more balance in life
- Achieve success in business
To use your time successfully you must first accomplish what is most important for you. When you don’t accomplish what you truly want, you may feel confused, compromised, and frustrated. Many people try to use time management techniques that work for others, only to be disappointed. It does not matter if you use a paper-based system, a PDA, or one of those expensive mobile devices. What really matters is that you are using a system that makes you effective.
Myths About Time Management
Some of the myths related to time management use are a direct consequence of our attitudes. Our attitudes are developed through a conditioning process that began very early in life. As you examine your past and the future, you will develop a much better understanding of why you do the things you do. Let’s take a look at some myths related to time:
MYTH: My life is completely controlled by external events.
FACT: You can have some control over many aspects of your life, but you and you alone are responsible for initiating that control.
MYTH: I should meet everyone’s expectations.
FACT: The needs and demands of others may be inappropriate for you and your lifestyle. First, become clear about what your own needs are. Then, consider what others expect of you.
MYTH: I should have no limits.
FACT: We all have limits …. failure to acknowledge this may cause you to become perfectionistic in your expectations. Perfectionism normally leads to procrastination.
MYTH: I do not have time
FACT: You need a time strategy.
Common Time-Wasters That Need To Be Identified
In order for a time management process to work, it is important to know what aspects of our personal management habits need to be improved. Below you will find some of the most frequent reasons for reducing effectiveness in the workplace. Identify the ones that are major obstacles to your effective use of your time. Identifying your time stealers:
- Interruptions – telephone
- Interruptions – personal visitors
- Tasks you should have delegated
- Procrastination and indecision (see my article “The Habit of Doing Nothing)
- Acting with incomplete information
- Dealing with team members
- Crisis management (fighting fires)
- Unclear communication
- Inadequate technical knowledge
- Unclear objectives and priorities
- Lack of planning
- Stress and fatigue
- Inability to say “No”
- Desk management and personal disorganization
Fortunately, there are strategies you can use to manage your time, be more in control and reduce stress. You can analyze your time to see how you may be both the cause and the solution to your time challenges.
There are many ways we can manage our time more effectively. The following is list of some strategies you can use:
- Put your daily plans in writing.
- Plan your daily time use by listing your activities in order of their priority.
- Be selective.
- Make brief notes immediately following a conference, meeting, or an important conversation.
- Keep simple records regarding the routine of your daily life.
- Schedule a quiet time – and use it.
- Use waiting time wisely.
- Keep your work area uncluttered and free of distractions.
- Keep incoming “Junk mail” to a minimum.
Using your time is your responsibility and is controllable if you choose to do so. The degree of your commitment to achieve personal goals will determine how serious you are about setting priorities for your time.
As an Executive Coach, I help individuals and organizations develop better attitudes more rapidly and produce more satisfying results. I work with my clients in all areas, including business, career, finances, time management, productivity, employee motivation, and relationships. As a result of coaching, clients set better goals, take more action, make better decisions, and more fully use their natural strengths.
Reference and excerpts taken with permission from Management and Leadership published by Resource Associates Corporation.