Time Management – Do you Invest or Consume Time?
Do you Invest or Consume Time?
Have you ever invested energy to explore how much time you spend chatting to colleagues, surfing the net, reading junk mail or making coffee every day, to mention just a few of the worst time consuming activities we indulge in each day? You do not have a shortage of time to carry out your crucial goal specific activities each day. All you have is a very poor system for utilising your available time as effectively and efficiently as possible, so that you can maximise your productivity.
Use an Activity Log
A study done in the US found that when people wrote down everything they did for seven days, their perception of how much free time they had doubled. Keeping a log will help you distinguish between time wasting activities and those that crucial goal specific activities which contribute to your success. It will also help you determine when your most productive times are during the day, so you can schedule your most (and least) taxing tasks accordingly.
Action Idea: Make yourself a blank schedule with each hour marked on a blank sheet of paper. Carry out this process for seven days, carefully noting how you are spending your time. After each hour passes, record exactly what you did. Do not analyse the data, just record it. After the seven days is up. Analyse the data and see how you are spending your time. Try to identify trends and see where you are wasting time.
Armed with this information, tackle the next week looking at each hour before it starts and ask yourself this question “Is the way I intend to invest the next hour, the most effective use of my time”. If it is keep doing things the way you are. If it is not then ask a different question “How can I improve on the next hour to improve the way I am utilising my time? Make asking this question a new habit and constantly look for ways to become more efficient.
Understanding the Terminology
- Effectiveness – Knowing how to identify, prioritize and carry out the right activities each day.
- Efficiency – Understanding how to leverage the maximum benefit from your available time, so that you can efficiently perform all the right activities each day.
- Activity Management – Having a system to properly manage the right activities and leverage the maximum from your unique circumstances.
- Self-Management – Create new routines or Daily Habits and then convert these into a success habit set.
- Effective Planning – Stimulate effective work habits, through focus and planning.
Don’t just improve your Efficiency, Look at your Effectiveness first
The greatest challenge most people have, when they want to improve their time management skills, is that they only search for ways to become more efficient. i.e. ways to get more done in an hour. This means that they work very hard to learn a system, which makes them very efficient at taking what may be the wrong actions every day. The secret to learning a new time management system, is to first take a step back, where you explore the actions you are taking, namely your effectiveness and discover whether the actions you are taking are aligned with the results you want to achieve. Once you are certain that the actions you are taking are right, now you can invest time and effort to learn a system to make you more efficient at carrying out these activities.
The challenge most of us have, is that we are constantly trying to keep up with urgent (but not necessarily important) tasks throughout the day. This means that we spend most of our day spinning our wheels and achieving very little. To wrestle back control of your life you need to identify and prioritize the most important goal specific tasks, which you need to, complete each day and make a list of them. Once you have your list of activities necessary for success. Look at ways of developing new behaviours or daily routines to support you to carry out these crucial activities every day. These new habits would be things like planning your day the night before, setting specific time aside each day to carry out these crucial activities, reviewing your progress daily or exploring each hour before it starts and asking if this is the best use of your time.
Plan and Organise
There is a little saying that goes” for every minute spent organizing, an hour is earned.” Plan your day the night before and get a head start every day. The more organised you are each day; the easier it will be to utilise your time as efficiently and effectively as possible. When you are planning your day, you must clearly distinguish between urgent and important tasks, this way you become both effective and time efficient, as you get to ensure that the actions you are taking are aligned with the outcomes you want to achieve.
Remove the Overwhelm
Break really big overwhelming tasks down into bite size action steps, which can easily be accomplished. This makes the really big and overwhelming tasks easy to manage and complete and gives you a list of individual actions, you can readily take throughout the day. I have found that if I break my “To Do” list into lists, which contain no more than 5 items each, I more readily get a feeling of accomplishment, as I move from list to list during the day. Don’t forget to review your to do list every day during your evening review.
Technology has become both a time saver and unfortunately, if we allow a huge consumer of our time. The myriad of communication tools available, which include SMS, email, Facebook, Twitter and Skype etc. are major sources of distraction every day. The attention we divert to utilize these very valuable sources of information can negatively affect our concentration, attention, productivity and decision making abilities. Just like with your overall goal of managing your time, you must manage your usage of these tools as well.
Use your activity log exercise to reveal how much time you are spending on unnecessary time wasting things such as reading junk emails, sending and reading unnecessary SMS’s, Chatting to friends on Facebook, tweeting etc.
Tips to Manage Technology
- Don’t leave your email open all day as this will distract your attention every time a new mail comes in.
- Set aside two blocks of time, for example half an hour in the morning and half an hour in the evening to attend to email only.
- Set a small block of time aside each day for social networking and be very disciplined in sticking to your allocated time.
- Allocate the time for emails, social networking answering SMS,s during your daily planning exercise each evening.
- Review how you have stuck to your time commitments each evening and make improvements where necessary.
- If you are not sticking to your allotted time, put the necessary mental steps in place to stick to your allotted time the next day.
I am certain that you have enough time every day to achieve all the goals you set for yourself. All you need to do, to finally turn your available time into the success you want, is to first ensure that you are taking the right actions, build a success habit set to support you to take these actions, plan your time usage, review your activities daily and then just get off your butt and take action.
Author: Andrew Horton Time Management Courses