Time Management Techniques: A Time Management Coach’s Viewpoint

Time Management

Time Management Techniques: A Time Management Coach’s Viewpoint

“Time and tide waits for none”

Time flies! For a corporate, the work time lost may equal rupees lost but for people, it may mean an irreparable and irreplaceable loss of opportunities, missed experiences and potential achievements. Time isn’t money, as a popular tagline of a famous airlines says, in fact, time is EVERYTHING! Just ask someone who realizes they have missed many opportunities in life and now regrets missing them. Or ask a failed student about the importance of the time he whiled away or ask 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 25 year term for committing a really serious crime.

Time is an immeasurably important and unique resource which isn’t expendable in advance, isn’t lendable, cannot be gifted and isn’t re-claimable unlike money or materials. And time is extremely beautiful and perfectly democratic in the sense of being available to all in the same amount in a day, not a second more or less.

But quite often, you may have found people whining about the utter shortage of time for the many important things in life they would like to do. In fact, I have also been a culprit in this regard as I, too, used to crib about the lack of time and wished I could have a longer day until …….

I have dwelt on this incident in my book A Story Can Change Your Life, too. I keep on seeing clients with nearly-identical complaints of a feeling of being swamped in life, of running short of time, of feeling stressed out due to a shortage of time. Sounds quite familiar? It must be ringing many a bell out there as we all too often wish for a longer day to pack all our tasks into it but….

Everyone is gifted with 24 hours in a day only but despite its being so, many of us waste it thoughtlessly in meaningless activities. Wasting it equals wasting opportunities and once time slips off our hands, we can’t do anything but regret as it can’t be regained. The tomorrow, the next week, the nest month or the next year you have been visualizing to start a particular activity at an “auspicious time” will never come. The only RIGHT time is RIGHT NOW.  So it’s unwise to postpone your work for tomorrow as what you really and truly own is just “today”, which means immediate 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.

By practicing time management, I have got convinced that our days are long enough to pack all our activities, leisure and other needs.  The trick lies in better time management, a crucial skill, which we all need to master to optimize our productivity and create a better, happier, healthier life for ourselves.

 

What’s Time Management?

Time management essentially implies that you 

  1. Are organized        
  2. Prioritize your work     
  3. Set your goals clearly
  4. Have good communication skills     
  5. Plan your time effectively
  6. Delegate tasks effectively
  7. Manage your stress levels well 

Benefits of Time Management

Time Management

If you don’t manage your time effectively, you will face missed deadlines, poor work quality, greater stress, work-life imbalance and burnouts. But with proper time management, you can see a dramatic 

  1. Improvement in personal and professional productivity    
  2. Reduction in stress levels 
  3. Improvement in your work-life balance

Why Time Management?

  1. More out of less
  • You can achieve more work efficiency by getting to control how you spend your time. That way, you can focus on more important tasks for better work efficiency.
  • To get the idea, visualize a vehicle driven slowly by someone busy on the phone alongside. Now contrast it with another one driven by someone (without any distraction) at an optimal speed to reach the destination faster. You can understand the difference time management can bring to your performance.

 

  1. Decision making
  • As a time management coach, I can tell you good time management skills helps you take better decisions as you can better grasp the impact of your decisions.
  • A bad time manager always feels hard pressed for time and has to hasten to choose the easier option. That way, he runs the risk of losing out in the long run. In contrast, good time managers evaluate the scenario coolly and  calmly and then choose the best possible option.

 

  1. Success
  • Good time management implies you meet your deadlines, have time for all the things in life including your family and friends and yourself, too.
  • Greater success, better performance, effective decision-making and a focus on important tasks are its obvious corollaries.

 

  1. Better Quality of Life
  • In a fast-paced, competitive and stressful life, we often miss out on the joys of socialization, bonding, relaxation, and health by paying the price of having material accomplishments.
  • By making time management a part of your lifestyle, you can achieve much more in a day by freeing up time for the things that make us truly happy. That way, we can reduce stress and get more fulfillment.

 

  1. Reduced stress
  • Effective time management helps to reduce stress and anxiety and improves confidence as you can now meet your deadlines easily.
  • With better productivity, you are on top of your game. 
  • Reduced stress improves productivity, sleep and work-life balance.

 

  1. More time
  • You have all the time with you for the things that matter to you and achieve your biggest goals.
  • You get to spend more time with family and friends, deepen your bonds and follow your hobbies.   

 

  1. Improved energy
  • 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 keeping my energy levels high for more productivity.

Time Management Coaching 

Many people struggle with time management, whereas others are pros in this regard. Regardless of the case, to master it, you need to 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 it. So, how do we go about it? Join me here for some tried-and-tested time management coaching tips:

The key to good time management lies in allocating 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.

 

  1. Plan in advance

In time management coaching, Planning is the first and the most readily proven of time management techniques. First, it helps you properly organize the. Second, it provides a detailed insight into all the things you need to do. So, if you plan your daily, weekly, or monthly tasks, the rest becomes easy.

Many tools are there to plan and organize your work:

  1. Calendars, personal organizers (digital or paper) 
  2. Time management apps and tools
  3. To-do-lists
  4. Post-it-notes, notepads, and other time managers

You may mix and adjust these options to evolve your own time management formula.

  1. Prioritize

Any time management coach can tell you good time management obviously means spending more time on your priorities, along with avoiding wastage of time on non-priority tasks. Ask yourself:

  1. What’re your goals?
  2. What’re the results of doing a particular activity? Are you going ahead in that direction or away from it?

Plan in advance for the week or the day in order to feel organized and focused. You can break your tasks over days to see how much time you need for a project. Even a few minutes of planning can 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 can wait for some time. And “low-priority” tasks can be put off, if need be.

Now put the tasks under each category. If a report has to be made, it’s an urgent task. But if you have to begin another project with a two-week deadline for completion, it is an “important, but not urgent” task. Chatting with friends is vital, but certainly not urgent, putting it in the “low-priority” group.

  1. To-do lists

At a personal level, I find them very useful and motivating as I can get a clear idea of what’s supposed to be done on a given day. I have found with experience 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 morning. You may also use software to do the job.  

Time management coaching recommends having S.M.A.R.T. — Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound goals to bring a solid structure to your work and prepare yourself for the day’s work. Take a short break for some coffee, a walk or just stretching your limbs after an hour or so can boost your productivity. It works! 

  1. Decision-making

You cannot sit down and begin to work unless you have made a prior decision about how you are going to do it i.e.

  1. Which task warrants a high priority?
  2. When is a task to be completed?
  3. What resources are available for the task?
  4. Which task/s ought to be taken up later?

All these decisions need to be made before you begin working. This strategy can let you decide clearly about your tasks to improve your work.

Putting together similar tasks can save you time. Instead of hopping from one task to another, it would be smart to group them together. For example, you can fix a time for emails and phone calls rather than doing it anytime throughout the day. I can certify its efficacy as this is exactly what I do. 

  1. Spend mornings on MITs

Time management coaches recommend taking out the most important tasks (MITs) from your to-do list to finish them first. We have the most energy and enthusiasm in the mornings, so why not tackle 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.

  1. Log In, Log Out
  • Become aware of how you’re spending your day on various things. List down all your day-to-day, routine activities and the time they consume. Now, having a clear idea of how you are spending your time, you will be in a better position to grasp where time is leaking off the tap and how you can plug the holes.  
  • Make a record of your daily routine to get 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 try to cut them out.
  1. Limit e-mailing time

Several time management examples focus on the apparently innocuous tasks like e-mailing, which, in fact, 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 email. Think of all the tasks you could do in this time.

Limit 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 to mark those unimportant messages as “spam” so that they don’t crowd your inbox.

  1. Get a break

While giving time management examples, many time management coaches advise that working without having breaks can do more harm than good to your performance. Breaks help us refresh our brain can refresh and refocus on work. Take a short walk, read some pages of your favorite book or have a coffee or watch a documentary or play an instrument to spend your breaks.

Do use intermittent breaks to improve time management and feel refreshed for a significant productivity boost.

  1. Discover your zone

A significant part of time management coaching is finding out which particular time works best for you. Each of us is extremely focused and highly productive at certain 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 certain times of the day, change your schedule to accommodate this fact to make the most of your time. Some people feel more energetic early in the morning, while some others happen to be night owls. Choose your personal best time schedule to reap the benefits of doing more.

  1. Avoid Perfection and multi-tasking

Time management examples often indicate that the perfect is the enemy of the good. Avoid overanalyzing everything. Of course, it doesn’t imply that you should be careless in your work. Do your best but a craving for perfection can drag you down. Once you’ve finished a task by giving it your best, move on.

Let’s accept it: Most of us aren’t really good at multi-tasking. Therefore, it’s better to focus on one thing at a time and excel in it. Try time boxing i.e. allocate a time-frame for every task which increases the likelihood of its completion.

  1. Know time stealers

Time management examples often focus on locating the 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 software to accelerate the lower-level processes.

Similarly, you can’t do everything by yourself. So delegate by training 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 delegate certain 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 workers. You may even outsource some secondary tasks to a freelancer.

  1. Time blocking

Elon Musk’s secret to good 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 has to say that top performers organize their day in terms of time blocks. It seems to be commonsensical as you are more likely to succeed with a well-defined action plan.

See your task through to the end. Avoid doing half work, i.e. abandoning the current task to do something else e.g. writing a report and then suddenly checking email for no reason and writing replies. It is not only bad time management but is also bad for your concentration and momentum.

  1. Distractions

Being focused on a task in hand when you have hundreds of them isn’t easy. So, getting distracted is normal. Notifications, pop-up messages, e-mails, colleagues constantly talking to you. They pull your attention away from work. While working, put your phone on silent mode and block notifications to save time and improve your efficiency. 

Time Management

There are several ways to become focused – put 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. Limit your presence on social media to a minimum as it takes a lot of time and doesn’t bring much value into life.

Stay 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 works out ultimately!

  1. Group together similar tasks

Various tasks ask of 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 the time spent on reorienting themselves for a new task, thereby ensuring faster project delivery. 

  1. Reward yourself

Having finished the task at hand, take a break and 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 little odd but when you think about the satisfaction you feel after completing the work, you will find it to be worth it.

So go on, take that nap, have a walk, or read a chapter from your preferred book!

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