See how time just flies in no time! If for a company or organization, the work time lost may mean money lost but for people, personally, time lost may translate into an irreparable loss – of opportunities and potential achievements. Time isn’t just money, as a popular airlines’ tagline claims; rather, time is EVERYTHING! To know its truth, simply ask someone who has missed many golden opportunities in life and now regrets it. That opportunity may have been a missed train, which could have landed him in time for a job interview, or could have got him his desired life partner- the possibilities are endless. You may also ask a failed student about the importance of the time he idled away or ask a terminally sick patient who has just been told by the doctor that they have only a few months to live now.
All said and done, time is a unique resource which cannot be had in advance, can’t be lent or gifted or re-claimed or transferred unlike money. To cap it, time is extremely democratic in the sense of being available to all – in the same amount, not a second more or less.
But quite often in life, you see people cribbing about a shortage of time for the many important things in life they want to do. To tell you the truth, I, too, have been a culprit here as I also used to complain about the lack of time and wished for a longer day until one day…….
You can find the rest of the story in detail in my book A Story Can Change Your Life, too. Today, I interact with clients having similar complaints of being swamped in life, of facing shortage of time, of feeling stressed out due to this shortage. It must be sounding quite familiar. We all too often wish for a longer day to pack all our tasks into it but….
Everyone has the same 24 hours in a day but despite that, many of us keep on wasting it thoughtlessly in meaningless activities. Wasting time equals wasting opportunities and once it slips off our hands, we can’t but regret as it can’t be regained. The tomorrow, the next week, the next month or the next year you have visualized to kick off a particular job/activity at an “auspicious time” may never come. Like they say, the best time to buy a house was 20 years ago, the second best time is TODAY! The only RIGHT time is RIGHT NOW. So, it would be unwise to postpone your work for tomorrow as what you really own is just “today”, which should translate into instant action, hard work, sweat, and effort. Obviously, it’s no use striking the iron when cold; the opportune time for doing this thing is when it’s hot.
All thanks my exposure to time management ideas, I am pretty much convinced that our day is long enough to pack all our work, leisure and other needs into it. Had we been having more hours, hypothetically, we would have slowed down accordingly as Parkinson so aptly put it
Work expands to fill the time available.
The magic lies in better time management, which is a crucial skill we all need to master in order to optimize our productivity and create a better, happier, healthier life.
What’s Time Management?
The idea of time management means that you
- Are organized
- Prioritize your activities
- Fix your goals with clarity
- Have good communication skills
- Plan your time effectively
- Delegate your tasks effectively
- Can manage stress levels well
Benefits of Time Management
Not managing your time effectively means missed deadlines, poor work quality, greater stress, work-life imbalance and burnouts. But by practicing proper time management, you can hope to find a dramatic
- Enhancement in personal and professional productivity
- Fall in stress levels
- Improvement in work-life balance
Time plays a significant role in our lives. If we better understand the value of time, then it can gain experience and develop skills over time. This motivational video is for all those people who have dreams they want to pursue, time is of the essence.
Why Time Management?
- More out of less
By controlling how you spend your time, you can achieve more work efficiency. In this manner, you can focus on more important tasks to achieve more work efficiency.
Think of a vehicle driven slowly by someone busy on the phone alongside. Contrast it with another one driven by someone (without any distraction) at an optimal speed to reach the destination faster. You can understand now the difference time management make to your performance.
- Decision making
As a time management coach, I can tell you good time management can help you take better decisions as you are able to better grasp the impact of your decisions.
Someone bad at time management will feel hard pressed for time and needs to hasten to choose the easier way, as he runs the risk of losing out. Contrarily, good time managers evaluate their situation calmly and choose the best possible option.
Good time management will let you meet your deadlines, spare time for everything in life – work, family, friends, pleasure and yourself, too. More success, better performance, good decision-making and a focus on important tasks are its obvious results.
- Better Quality of Life
In today’s fast, cut-throat and stressful life, we often tend to miss out on the joys of socialization, bonding, relaxation, and health by paying the price of having material accomplishments. By making time management an essential part of lifestyle, you can achieve much more by freeing up time for the things that make you truly happy. That way, we can reduce stress and get more fulfillment in life.
- Reduced stress
Good time management can bring down reduce stress and anxiety and heighten your self-confidence as you are able to meet your deadlines easily now. With better productivity under your belt, you are on top of your game. The reduced stress level enhances your productivity and improves sleep and work-life balance.
- More time
You have all the time for the things that really matter to you and achieve your goals in life. You have more time for your family and friends, to deepen your bonds and follow your favourite hobbies.
- More energy
More energy and motivation is the additional bonus, which lets you focus on the most important tasks. More energy provides you better focus and productivity for a long time. At a personal level, it keeps my energy levels high for better productivity.
Time Management Coaching
So many people among us continually struggle with time management, whereas others are pros in this regard. Regardless, to master your time, you should know how to do it the right way. Time can be tricky and so, it’s important to know how to fit your work and daily activities into the time available. Come on, join me for some tried-and-tested time management coaching tips:
The key to time management is allocating the right time to the right activity for optimum time utilization by prioritizing tasks as per their importance and the estimated time needed for completion.
Planning is the first and the most readily proven time management technique in time management coaching. First, it helps you properly organize your work. Second, it gives you a detailed insight into all that you need to do. Therefore, if you plan your daily, weekly, or monthly tasks, accomplishing them becomes far easier.
Try to use the tools listed below to plan and organize your work:
- Calendars, personal organizers (digital or paper)
- Time management apps and tools
- Post-it-notes, notepads, and other time managers
You may mix and match them to arrive at your own personal time management formula.
- 1, 2, 3, 4…..
Any time management coach will tell you time management obviously means spending more time on priorities, besides not wasting time on non-priority tasks. Ask yourself:
- What’re your goals?
- What’re the results of a particular activity? Are you moving ahead in that direction or away from it?
Make plan in advance for the week or the day so as to feel organized and focused. You may break down your tasks over days to see how much time you need for a project. Just a few minutes of planning can really transform the way you work.
Group together your tasks importance-wise by organizing them in terms of their relative importance. For instance, the tasks labeled “urgent” must be done today while those labeled “important, but not urgent” are important, but they can wait for some time. And “low-priority” tasks can be postponed till later, if need be.
Now place the tasks under each category. For example, if you need to make a report, it’s an urgent task. But if you have to begin a new project with a 14-day deadline for completion, it can be “important, but not urgent” task. Similarly, chatting with friends is vital, but certainly not an urgent task, and thus, it needs to go to the “low-priority” group.
- To-do lists
Personally, I find them quite useful and motivating as I get a clear idea of what’s supposed to be done on a particular day. I have discovered that the ideal time to make a to-do list is the end of the day when you clearly know from where to resume work the next day. There is software available to help you do this job.
Time management coaches recommend having S.M.A.R.T. — Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound goals to give a solid structure to your work and prepare yourself for the day. Taking a brief break for a tae/coffee, a walk or just stretching your limbs after an hour or so boosts your productivity. Try it out. It works!
You cannot begin to work unless you have made a prior decision about how you are going to do it i.e.
- Which task needs a high priority?
- When does a task need to be completed?
- What resources are available for the task?
- Which task/s should be taken up later?
The decisions have to be taken before your work begins. It will enable you to decide clearly about your tasks for better work performance.
Grouping together similar tasks saves time. Instead of hopping from one task to another, it is much smarter to group them together. For example, you may fix a time for emails and phone calls rather than doing it anytime throughout the day. I can vouch for its extreme its efficacy as this is exactly what I do all the time.
- Spend mornings on MITs
Time management coaches recommend working on the most important tasks (MITs) from your to-do list to finish them first. Obviously, we have the most energy and enthusiasm in the mornings, so why not tackle the most challenging tasks at this time? Besides, once you have accomplished the most important tasks early in the day, you can remain motivated and high-spirited for the rest of the day.
Specialists in stress management counselling often advocate this idea to help their clients reduce the stress levels they face.
- Log In, Log Out
Try to be aware of how you’re spending your time on various things. List down all your day-to-day, routine activities and the time they take. Having a clear idea of how you are spending time, you will be in a far better position to grasp where time is leaking off the tap and how you can plug the cracks and holes.
Record your daily routine to know about time-wasters e.g. phone calls, social media, TV, gossiping etc. Time tracking and productivity apps are great tools for this purpose. By recording your daily routine for about a week, you can the time-wasters and try to cut them out.
- Limit e-mailing time
Many time management examples focus on the apparently innocuous tasks like e-mailing. The reality is – it takes a lot of time. Checking and replying to e-mails is burdensome. An average worker spends around 10 hours a week checking email. Think of all the tasks you could do in this much time.
Limit the time on e-mails to the minimum to keep those 10 hours for work. If you check e-mail in the morning, reply only to important ones, which warrant an immediate reply. You can leave the rest for breaks or read them at the end of the day. Ensure that you mark those unimportant messages as “spam” so that they don’t crowd your inbox.
- Get a break
Many time management coaches and those dealing in stress management counselling advise employees that working without breaks can do more harm than good. Periodic breaks help us refresh our brain and refocus on work. Take a short walk, read a favorite book or sip a tae/coffee or watch a documentary or play an instrument during breaks.
Use these intermittent breaks to improve time management and refresh yourself for a significant productivity boost.
- Discover your zone
Each of us is extremely focused and productive at certain times in a day i.e. we are in our ‘zone’. Find your own zone for the best time utilization to bring out the best in you.
If you feel more energetic at certain times in the day, change your schedule to accommodate it to get the most of your time. Some people may feel more energized early in the morning, while others happen to be night owls. Choose your own personal best time to reap the benefits of doing more.
- Say No to Perfection and multi-tasking
The perfect is very often the enemy of the good. Avoid overanalyzing. Of course, it doesn’t mean being careless in your work. Put in your best but a craving for perfection can drag you down. Once you’ve finished a task by giving it your best, move on.
Most of us aren’t really good at multi-tasking, say the latest studies. Therefore, it’s better to focus on one thing at a time and excel at it. Try time boxing i.e. allocate a time-frame for each task, which significantly increases the likelihood of its completion.
- Know about time stealers
Locate time stealers to do something about them. You may be spending an hour on emails instead of working your projects. Knowing where time goes can let you decide about delegating tasks or using software to accelerate the lower-level processes.
Similarly, you can’t do everything on your own. So, try to delegate by training someone to do simple jobs to free yourself up to work on bigger things. It’s always smart to delegate certain tasks to others and let them share the responsibility and if done properly, it can save time and effort, besides making others more responsible and confident. You may even outsource some secondary tasks to a freelancer.
- Time blocking
The Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s secret to time management lies in time blocking i.e. devoting a certain number of hours to only one task, while blocking off other tasks. In his 15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management, Kevin Kruse says that top performers organize their day by time blocks. It appears to be logical as you are much more likely to succeed with a well-defined action plan.
Read: Why Do We Need to Fix Top Priorities In Life
See your task to the end. Avoid doing half work, i.e., quitting the current task to do something else e.g. writing a report and then suddenly checking email for no reason and giving replies. It’s not only bad time management but is also bad for your focus and momentum.
Keeping focus on a task when you have hundreds of them isn’t easy. So, getting distracted – notifications, pop-up messages, e-mails, colleagues constantly talking to you – is oaky. Obviously, they all pull your attention away from work. While working, put your phone on the silent mode and block all notifications to save time and improve your efficiency.
There are many ways to be focused – put your phone away, turn off social media notifications or block distracting websites. But the best way is to focus and do what is to be done. Limit your presence on social media to a minimum as it takes lots of time and doesn’t bring much value into life.
Focus on one part of your work at a given time and say no to messages, emails or social media notifications. Hard? You may need some practice and a short wait. It works out!
- Group together similar tasks
Various tasks require team members to spend different amounts of time and effort but because most team tasks are quite similar, putting them together is a good idea. It can enable the teams to save time on reorienting themselves for a new task, thus ensuring faster project completion.
- Reward yourself
Having finished the task, take a break to do something else- a cup of coffee, listen to music, or call a friend. These little rewards are a great way to motivate yourself – similar to a rabbit chasing the carrot tied to its ears. It may look a bit odd but when you think of the satisfaction you experience after task completion, you will find it to be worth it.
So go on, take that nap, have a walk, or read a chapter your favourite book to get a productivity boost!