Good time management can help you do more in a day - and get you on the path to success. Here's how.
The importance of good time management
How many times have you wished you just had more hours in a day to get to all the things you wanted to do? Till physics geniuses figure out practical time travel and other time warps, you'll have to make do with the daily 24-hour allotment.
But you can make the most of your time with good time management skills. It takes a little time to set things organised, but once in place, a good system can help you tackle life and all its responsibilities with greater ease and efficiency.
- Make a list
The easiest way to get started is to start with a list. Make a habit of listing down your tasks for the week and for the month and include all your appointments. Each day, prioritise the things that are more important with numbers, symbols or a colour code. This will help you separate the 'must-do's' from the 'should-do's'. Limit the number of must-do's to 2 items per day and the number of should-do's to 1 item per day, add an additional would be nice to do in the event you have spare time. This gives you plenty of flexibility to work around unexpected changes in your work scope.
Your planning should take place in advance, preferably the night before your work week begins. Plan every day in advance, preferably the night before.
- Know what's really important
Learn to mentally discipline yourself by differentiating your urgent tasks and important tasks. Urgent tasks are usually the unplanned duties that crop up: phone calls, work emergencies and so on. You don't want to spend all day attending to urgent tasks such that you neglect the important tasks - the tasks that contribute most to your long-term goals.
Urgent tasks while time sensitive, may not necessarily be important. Try to negotiate for more time, delegate the work to another person or find out if the task is truly urgent.
- Focus, focus, focus!
We all live in an era of multi-tasking: emailing on the go, talking on the phone while typing a report or even doing several reports at once. While this serves its purpose in the short-term, it can affect the quality of your work. For important projects, give yourself the time, space and focus to concentrate by removing distractions. Instead of checking your email and mobile phone every 15 minutes, give yourself a good one hour of productive time to tackle one task. Take a break to attend to other things and continue to work in concentrated blocks of time. This helps you to channel all your energy towards your work and builds a good mental momentum that is more efficient than working in 15-minute blocks.
- Just say no
The most productive of people say 'no'. You can't do everything, as much as you want to. Train yourself to turn down tasks that you truly cannot manage, or delegate them to another person. It's okay to ask for help. Get a spouse, partner, colleague, friend or relative to help out when you need it. Learn to trust others. If you are concerned about their ability to undertake the task, write clear instructions: give the exact address of your child's school and his or her schedule; email a detailed grocery list to your husband, share all the reference material in the project you can't get to.