“Time and tide waits for none”- Proverb
Time just flies! For the corporates, the work time lost equals rupees lost but for people, it refers to irreparable and irreplaceable loss of opportunities, left out experiences and potential achievements. Time isn’t money, as a famous tagline of an airline says, in fact, time is ALL that you have and EVERYTHING! Just talk to someone who realizes they have missed many opportunities in life and now regrets it. Or ask a failed student about the importance of the time he wasted away or a patient who has just been told by the doctor that they don’t have much time to live. Or ask a youngster, who has just now been jailed for a life term for committing a really serious crime.
Time is an invaluable and unique resource which isn’t expendable in advance, isn’t lendable, isn’t gifteable and isn’t re-claimable like money or materials. Besides, time is perfectly democratic in the sense of having been given to all in the same amount in a day, not a second more or less.
But so many times, you may have seen people cribbing about the utter scarcity of time for the many vital things in life they would like to do. In fact, I have also been a culprit in this regard as I, too, used to complain of the lack of time and longed I could have a longer day until …….
I have talked of this incident in my A Story Can Change Your Life, too. Today, I see many clients with nearly-identical complaints of a feeling of being swamped in life, of running short of time, or feeling tense due to a shortage of time. Sounds quite commonplace? It must be ringing many a bell out there as we all too often wish for a longer day to pack all our tasks but….
Everyone has 24 hours a day only but in spite of its being so, many of us waste it thoughtlessly on meaningless activities. Wasting it equals wasting chances and once time slips off our hands, we can’t do anything but regret as we can’t be regain it. The tomorrow, the next week, the next month or the next year you have been thinking of to start a particular activity at the “auspicious time” will never come. The only RIGHT time is RIGHT NOW! So it’s unwise to procrastinate your work what you really and truly own is just “today”, which means brisk action, hard work, sweat, and effort. Obviously, it’s no use striking the iron when it’s cold; the opportune time for doing this thing is while it’s hot.
By practicing time management, I am convinced that our days are long enough to pack all our activities, leisure and other needs. The trick lies in optimum time management, an important skill, which we all have to ace to optimize our productivity and design a better, happier, healthier life for ourselves and others, too.
What’s Time Management?
Time management essentially says that you
- Are organized
- Prioritize your work
- Set your goals clearly
- Have good communication skills
- Plan your time properly
- Delegate your tasks properly
- Control your stress levels well
Benefits of Time Management
If you don’t manage your time effectively, you are going to have missed deadlines, poor quality work, more stress, work-life imbalance and burnouts. But with proper time management, you can find a dramatic
- Improvement in personal and professional productivity
- A reduction in stress
- Improvement in work-life balance
Why Time Management?
More out of less
You can realize more work productivity by getting to manage how you spend time. That way, you can focus on more important tasks to achieve better work efficiency.
To get the idea, imagine a vehicle driven slowly by someone busy on the phone alongside. Now compare it with another vehicle driven by someone (without any distraction) at an optimal speed to reach the destination in time. You can comprehend the difference that proper time management can bring to your performance.
As a time management coach, I can assert confidently that time management skills help you take better decisions as you can better realize the impact of your decisions.
A bad time manager is hard pressed for time and has to hasten to choose the easier option. That way, he suffers the risk of losing out in the long run. On the other hand, a good time manager assesses the scenario coolly and calmly and then chooses the best possible option.
Good time management means meeting your deadlines and having time for all the things in life including your family and friends and yourself. Greater success, better performance, effective decision-making and a focus on important tasks are its corollaries.
Better Quality of Life
In a rushed, competitive and stressful life, we often miss out on socialization, bonding, relaxation, and health and pay the price of having material accomplishments. By making time management a part of lifestyle, you can get much more by freeing up time for the things that make us truly happy. That way, we can minimize stress and get more fulfillment in life.
Effective time management can help minimize stress and anxiety and improve confidence as you can now meet your deadlines easily. With higher productivity, you feel on top of your game. Reduced stress improves productivity, sleep and work-life balance.
You have all the time for the things that matter to you and achieve your biggest goals. You can spend more time with family and friends, strengthen your social bonds and follow your hobbies.
The extra bonus is more energy and motivation, with which you can focus on the most important work. More energy gives you a better focus and productivity for a longer time. Personally speaking, I have seen it keep my energy levels high for more productivity.
Time Management Coaching
Many people struggle with time management, whereas others are pros in this regard. Of course, in order to master it, you need to know how to do it the right way. Time can be tricky. And so, it’s vital to know how to fit your work and daily activities into it. So, how do we go about it? Join me here for some tried-and-tested time management coaching tips:
The key lies in allotting the right time to the right activity for optimum time utilization by prioritizing tasks according to their importance and the estimated time for their completion.
In time management coaching, planning is the first and the most readily proven time management technique. First, it helps you properly organize your day. Second, it provides a detailed insight into all the things you need to work on. So, if you plan your daily, weekly, or monthly tasks, the rest gets easier.
Many tools are there 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 these options to evolve your own time management formula.
Any time management coach can tell you that good time management basically means spending more time on your priorities, along with avoiding a wastage of time on non-priority tasks. Ask yourself:
What’re your goals?
What’re the consequences of doing a particular activity? Are you getting ahead in that direction or away from it?
Plan in advance for the week or the day to feel organized and focused. You can break your tasks over days to see how much time you need for a specific project. Even a few minutes of planning can transform the way you work.
Group together your tasks in terms of their importance by placing them in terms of their relative importance. For example, the tasks labelled “urgent” must be done today while those named “important, but not urgent” are important, but can wait for some time. And “low-priority” tasks can be put off, if you need to.
Now put the tasks under each category. If you need to make a report, it’s an urgent task. But if you have to begin another project with a 2-week deadline for completion, it is an “important, but not urgent” task. Chatting with friends is vital, but certainly not urgent, therefore, you can put it in the “low-priority” group.
At a personal plane, I find them very easy, useful and motivating as I can get a clear idea of what’s supposed to be done on a day. I have found with experience and time that the ideal time to make a to-do list is the end of the day when you clearly know from where to start work the next morning. You may also use some software to do the job for you.
Time management coaching recommends having S.M.A.R.T. — Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound goals to bring a solid structure to work and ready yourself for the day’s work. Take a short break for a coffee, a walk or just stretch your limbs after an hour or so to boost your productivity. It really works!
You cannot sit down and begin working unless you have made a prior decision about how you are going to do it i.e.
- Which task demands high priority?
- When is a task to be finished?
- What resources are available for the task?
- Which task/s ought to be taken up later?
All these decisions need to be made before you begin to work. This strategy can let you decide clearly about your tasks to improve your quality of work.
Putting together same tasks can save you time. Instead of jumping from one task to another, it would be smart to group them together. For instance, you can fix a time for emails and phone calls rather than doing it anytime in the day. I can certify its efficacy as this is exactly what I do all the time.
Mornings for MITs
Time management coaches advise taking out the most important tasks (MITs) from your to-do list to finish them first. We have the most amount of energy and enthusiasm in the mornings, so why not solve the biggest and the most challenging tasks then? Besides, by accomplishing the most important tasks early in the day, you can keep yourself motivated for the rest of the day.
Log In, Log Out
Try to be aware of how you’re spending your day on various things. List down all your day-to-day, routine activities and the time they take. Now, by having a clear idea of how you are spending your time, you will be better positioned to focus where time is leaking off the tap and how you can plug the hole.
Make a diary of your daily routine to know which activities are time-wasters e.g. phone calls, social media, TV, gossiping etc. Time tracking and productivity apps are great tools for this one. By recording your daily routine for about a week, you will be able to spot all the time-wasters and then cut them out.
Limit e-mailing time
Several time management examples focus on the apparently innocuous tasks like e-mailing, which, takes a lot of time. Checking and replying to e-mails is a burdensome task. An average worker spends around 20 hours a week checking emails. Think of all the tasks you could do in this time. Reduce the time you spend on e-mails to the minimum to keep those 20 hours for work. If you check e-mail in the morning, reply only to important ones, which need an immediate reply and leave the rest for breaks or read them at the end of the day. Make sure that you mark those unimportant messages as “spam” so that they don’t tend to crowd your inbox.
While giving time management examples, many time management coaches recommend that working without breaks can be more harmful than good to your performance. These breaks help us freshen up our brain and refocus on work. Take a short walk, read some pages from a favorite book, have a coffee or watch a documentary or play an instrument to spend your breaks.
Do use these intermediary breaks to improve time management and feel refreshed for a significant productivity boost.
Discover your time zone
An important part of time management coaching is finding out which particular time works best for you. Each of us is focused and highly productive at certain specific times in a day i.e. we are in our ‘zone’. Find your zone for the best time utilization to bring out the best in you.
Should you feel more energetic at some times in the day, amend your schedule to accommodate this fact to make the most of your time. Some people feel more energetic early in the morning, while others happen to be night owls. Find out your personal best time schedule to reap the benefits of doing more and achieving more.
Avoid Perfection and multi-tasking
Time management examples often show that the perfect is very often the enemy of the good. Avoid over-thinking and do not try to do everything. Of course, it doesn’t mean that you should be careless in your work. Do your best but a longing for perfection can drag you down. Once you’ve done a task by giving it your best, move on.
Let’s accept this hard fact: Most of us aren’t really good at multi-tasking. Therefore, it’s better to focus on one thing at a time and excel at it. Try time boxing i.e. allot a time-frame for every task which increases the likelihood of its completion.
Know time stealers
In time management, we often talk upon finding time stealers to do something about them. You may be spending an hour on emails instead of completing your projects. Knowing where your time goes can let you decide about delegating tasks or using a software to accelerate the lower-level processes.
Similarly, you can’t do everything by yourself. So train someone to undertake simple processes to free yourself up to work on bigger things or more complicated tasks. It’s always a smart thing to allot some tasks to others and let them share the load and if done correctly, it can save you time and effort, besides making others more responsible and confident. You may even outsource some secondary tasks to a freelancer.
The Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s secret to good time management is time blocking i.e. giving a certain fixed 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 plan their day by way of time blocks. It seems to be commonsensical as you are more likely to succeed with a well-defined action plan and see your task through to the end. Avoid doing half work, i.e. procrastinating over the current task to do something else e.g. writing a report and then suddenly checking email for no reason and writing back replies. It is not only bad time management but is also bad for your concentration and momentum.
Being focused on a task in hand when you have hundreds of them isn’t really easy. So, getting distracted is perfectly normal. Notifications, pop-up messages, e-mails, colleagues constantly disturb you and divert your attention away from work. While working, put your phone on the silent mode and block the phone notifications to save time and improve your efficiency.
There are many ways to become focused – keep your phone away, turn off social media notifications or block distracting websites. But the best way is to concentrate and do what is to be done. Reduce your presence on social media to the minimum possible as it takes a lot of time and doesn’t bring much value into life. Be on track with your goals by focusing 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 will work out ultimately!
Group 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, smart idea. It can allow the teams to save the time spent on reorienting themselves for a new task, thereby ensuring faster project delivery.
Having done the task at hand, have a break to do something else- a cup of coffee, listen to a song or call a friend. These little gifts are a great way to motivate yourself – the same thing to a rabbit chasing the carrot tied to its ears. It may look a little odd but when you think about the satisfaction you feel after completing the work, you will find it to be worth the effort you spend on it.
So go on, take that nap, have a walk, or read a chapter from your favourite book!