Time is an entirely human concept: humans defined time and stated that an hour has 60 minutes and a day has 24 hours. Everybody works according to this self-same system, so why is it that some people are able to get SO much done each day, but others hardly have time to get the basics done? How do they fit so much in to the same 24 hours as you? What they are doing differently?
In the end, it boils down to the proper management of time.
Time management is basically a conscious decision to plan and exercise control over the amount of time spent on various activities, specifically to increase efficiency, effectiveness and productivity to work smarter rather than harder. It involves balancing responsibilities and demands made upon you by work, your social life, your family, your hobbies and your personal interests and commitments with the limited time available to us.
“Time is a created thing. To say ‘I don’t have time,’ is like saying, ‘I don’t want to.’” ― Lao Tzu
In reality you cannot manage time itself. What you are really doing is managing is your own use of time, and that means constantly making decisions about what to do, when to do it and how much effort you are going to put into doing it. Time management is all about clarifying, organizing and implementing choices.
Step 1 – Clarify what needs to be done
Create a list of what needs to be done, and what you want to do.
Remember to include all family and social commitments, not only work and chores as these are an important part of your life.
Eliminate unnecessary items from your list – if you don’t HAVE/NEED to do it and you really don’t want to do it, it is time to assess whether it must be on your list.
Reevaluate how your projects, tasks, actions and habits align with your goals, values and beliefs. If something doesn’t sit right with you it is more likely to take an excessive amount of time to get it done or you will avoid doing it.
Step 2 – Organise when everything needs to be done
In this step you take the list of what has to be done and decide when you want to do it OR when the best time is to do it (when you want to do something may not actually be the best time to do something).
You need to organise your life so that you are doing things at the optimum point of your day, week or month.
Make use of time management programs, a daily planner, or diary as scheduling is essential to successful time management.
Try grouping similar activities so that time wastage is kept to a minimum. For instance if you need to pay bills, go to the shops and fetch your children. Why not leave earlier than you need to fetch your kids, and stop at the shops to do the shopping (and pay your bills while you are there) all on your way.
Try to stick to a schedule and don’t do unschedule tasks spontaneously, unless you have free time. Why do I say this? If you are doing something unscheduled, right now, whatever was scheduled for RIGHT NOW, is being neglected.
Step 3 – Implement what needs to be done
The third step centres around how well you intend to do something or how involved you are going to be with someone.
This is a balancing act – between not over doing something (writing a 10 page report when a one pager is all that was required) and not putting the required effort into the task.
Remember that doing something wholeheartedly and with focus means that it will be done properly, the first time – this saves you from wasting time having to revisit items later to correct or redo them.
This is especially true when it comes to meetings – don’t schedule a meeting for only 30 minutes because that is what is available in your diary today, when you know you need at least twice that in order to cover everything. It then means follow up meetings and revising what was spoken about already, wasting everyone’s time.