What do we mean by Time Management? Is it even possible to ‘manage’ time? If we look at the question from the perspective of time being a continued existence, then we can surely look at organizing that existence to yield specific results. In this post, we will explore 7 steps to improved time management.
“Incredible change happens in your life when you decide to take control of what you do have power over instead of craving control over what you don’t” – Steve Maraboli.
Time management usually refers to how you organize your days and how you perform specific tasks and activities.
Before we dive in, you might want to contemplate what you are trying to achieve with your time; in other words, try to ascertain what you value most in each activity. If your career or your business is suffering from poor time management, take a moment to establish what you are hoping to achieve with your time. What is the ultimate goal?
Step 1 – Comfortable Workspace
Be sure to set up your workstation to be comfortable and organized. You will notice that when you are comfortable, you are more likely to stay focused for longer. It is essential to ensure that your desk and chair are adjusted comfortably so that it does not cause you a strain or discomfort. Lighting is another vital factor in ensuring a comfortable workspace, so be sure to light your workstation well. Finally, take care of distractions – cell phones, TV, Email. When you need to get things done, be sure to eliminate distractions. Some authors are known to isolate themselves in remote locations with no electronic devices when they write a book. If you feel that extreme measures might be required to get things done, make sure your chosen workspace is pleasant.
Step 2 – Mirror Your Energy Levels
You will undoubtedly be well aware of the bothersome afternoon energy slumps. It is natural for your energy levels to go up and down during the day, so it is worthwhile to start paying attention to these ebbs and flows and ultimately organize your work around them.
If possible, try scheduling difficult tasks that require a lot of focus when your energy levels are up. Equally, there is an abundance of suggestions on how to invigorate yourself during low-energy periods, such as drinking plenty of water. While it might take perseverance to get to know yourself and your energy cycles, it is a valuable task that will help you time management in the long run. Develop a response that fits your energy and circumstances.
Step 3- Identify Priorities
“My advice is to never do tomorrow what you can do today. Procrastination is the thief of time.” – Charles Dickens
When faced with a myriad of to-do tasks, it is easy to get overwhelmed with smaller concerns that accumulate into a mountain of distress. By focusing on the most critical tasks, we contain our ability to recoil in the direction of fatalistic thinking. Therefore, it is vital to stay focused on the main objectives and work toward the best solution. Organization and task management will very much depend on the nature of your business. You will be aware, however, that in every area where there are tasks that are more valuable and truly worth your time, whereas others are less important and further down the priority list.
A useful starting point is to arrange your to-do list into four main sections:
-Important and urgent
-Important but not urgent
-Not important but urgent
-Not important and not urgent
Step 4 – Leverage Time Management Strategies
Work expands to fill the time available for its completion – Parkinson’s Law.
Consider using time-management strategies to get tangible productivity results. Tracking your time and having a clear view of how much time you spend on specific tasks is crucial to maximizing your productivity. Once you know how long it might take you to do your job, why not challenge the time you give yourself to complete specific tasks, for example, set yourself a deadline to answer all urgent emails in 30 minutes. The following day, why not attempt doing it in 15 minutes with more focus. You could also assume that your workday ends at noon and think about what you would have to do and how hard you need to focus if you only had a few hours to complete the same work. Set clear, accountable deadlines for yourself and stick to them.
Step 5 – Have Efficient Meetings
Many businesses are guilty of wasting hours discussing their plans instead of letting people focus on execution. Surveys suggest that we spend 25-80% of our time in meetings each week. Be sure to manage your time more effectively by preparing an agenda with clear objectives. Also, consider the possible attendees and who really needs to be there. The fewer the people attend, the more efficient it is likely to be. When allocating meeting time, you might want to consider following Parkinson’s law and give yourself half as much time as you predict you will need.
Step 6 – Stay Positive and in Control
Adopting a can-do mindset frees self-induced restrictions. People with high emotional intelligence focus on examining the facts. Once you have assessed the situation and tasks at hand, you can make a plan and forge ahead.When confronted with overwhelming to-do lists, fear often spurs a barrage of negative thoughts. Once the attack begins, your brain becomes consumed with negative energy. Focusing on something positive can quickly shift your thoughts in a promising and productive direction.
Step 7 – Be Calm
You perform best when you shift your perspective towards what you can control, and it goes without saying that you are much more equipped to control and manage your time when your mind is calm. By solely concentrating on our breathing, we eliminate the distractions that elevate stress. When we focus on breathing, we clear our minds from the noise that amplifies overwhelm. The uncomplicated practice of slowing down eliminates the turbulence, and prepares your mind for complete concentration. Activities such as music, walks, or writing are all wonderful ways to prepare yourself for tackling essential projects.
Managing time well is something that we all need to learn, and how we finesse through our days is a skill that requires emotional intelligence. When you are clear about what is on your plate, you will be more focused and avoid feeling overwhelmed. It does not have to be daunting, however. You will be surprised just how much more time you will have for things you genuinely cherish when you manage it effectively. We will end this with a link to Brad Aeon’s TedTalk in which he presents an excellent viewpoint on philosophy on time management.