5 Tips for Successful Time Management
“Time and tide wait for no man (or woman)”. Time allotted each day to all of us on this Blue Planet is the same, but our daily work output from it differs vastly. We know that the Almighty is not going to change the rules of the Universe for us by allotting us extra time. So what options do you have to manage your time better?
You usually see folks involved in leadership or management focus a lot on managing time efficiently. There is no point in feeling envious of these smart folks who seem to get everything on their to-do list completed on time, every time.
Instead, utilize that time to learn their secrets of time management. Instead of re-inventing the wheel, you can learn effective time management tips by emulating others who are experts in squeezing the maximum out of time. Let us take a quick peek at their insider secrets.
1) Have a Plan!
The importance of having a plan cannot be emphasized enough. All the leadership and management gurus will begin with the same advice. Well, that’s not so surprising after all. Trying to get something done without having a plan in place is like sailing to sea without a compass. You really don’t want to get lost, and definitely not at sea.
What Will You Include In Your Planning?
Well for starters, make a list of the stuff that you need to get done. That’s not all. You will see soon that in order to manage time better you will need a couple more of them lists. Yeah, like I was saying you need to get a list of the stuff that you need to get done and also a list of the usual stuff you do on a daily basis. Now you will have to sort the 2 lists into 3 different sections as shown below:
List A-To do List
3) Can Wait
List B-Your Current Time Schedule
2) Rest and Recreation
2) Manage Your Lists
Now that you have both your lists ready, you must know what to do with them. The most important thing to do with your list A (‘to do’ list) is to carefully assess and evaluate the time that each of the tasks need n order to be completed on time/ earlier. More on how to assess and delegate time will be discussed in Tip #3.
The next thing to do is to scrutinize your List B (your current time schedule). Find out if you are guilty of wasting time or spending way too much time on any particular activity / inactivity (wasting time doing nothing). If I were you, I would subject all of my social networking, online browsing, daydreaming and chatting online/ offline to a stringent scrutiny. The usual time wasters / productivity killers lurk somewhere among these activities.
In case you do find any culprits, take them to task at the earliest and save yourselves a lot of valuable time, while you can. And yeah, do remember to add whatever time you have saved here to the productive section, without wasting even a moment.
3) Assess Time Needed for Your Projects
As I mentioned in the previous tip, you must know how to assess the probable amount of time that you are going to need for completing your projects on List A. It is only natural to want to allot the maximum amount of your free time in completing the urgent and important stuffs.
But that would mean focusing entirely on the urgent stuff and letting tasks under the other two categories catch dust in the ‘pending’ section.
What I personally suggest and implement is to distribute the total free/ productive time among all the 3 categories, but not equally. Maybe you can set aside 75 % of your free time for your urgent stuff and keep aside just 5 % for your ‘not so urgent / important stuff’ and manage the important work in the remaining 20 % of your free time. So according to this distribution, let us suppose you have around 8 hours of productive time. Use 6 hours of this time for completing your urgent stuff, approximately 1.5 hrs on your important tasks and the rest on the less urgent tasks.
4) Schedule Your Tasks
Now that you have sorted all your productive time into the appropriate categories, you need to fine tune your time management a bit further. Remember that if your body and mind is not totally synchronized with your time management schedule your final output is going to be less than optimum.
While everything may sound great on paper, the actual results need not match with your expectations. In order to avoid such disappointments and failure of your time management, you will have to learn to adapt your productive time with your body’s optimal productive periods.
Some are morning people, some perform great in the afternoons, some after the sun has gone down and so on. Lucky are those who find their body’s productive times coinciding with their work schedules. But for the remaining, which includes me BTW; there is a need for fine tuning. Out of the free time try to delegate your body’s most productive time to the urgent and important stuffs and try to use the less productive periods for getting your less urgent stuff tasks completed.
5) Use Shock Absorbers
No matter how well you fine tune your productive time or schedule your tasks, you ought to keep in mind that life is not predictable. You have to offer some leeway for unexpected problems, delays and of course illnesses and issues.
What I suggest is that you should never try to fit all your free time to task completion. Always keep aside some extra time for handling sudden unexpected delays. Your computer could break down, you could fall ill, you may have to deal with an ill child and so on.
One of the best ways to absorb the shocks provided by such unexpected problems is to add some extra time to each of your tasks in tip # 3
Time management is a great skill that every one of us can benefit from. Do not just leave it for the folks in the leadership or management fields. Even a housewife could benefit a lot from effective time management.