It seems that being “Time Poor” is almost a universal situation among the contemporary workforce. The stress of increased productivity and its demands upon our time has resulted in some people striving and meeting this challenge head-on, whereas others who do not fare so well are buckling under the pressure. The warning signs include staying late at nights frequently, leaving e-mails unanswered, micromanaging even the smallest tasks, and a reluctance in saying “no” to all requests. If this describes you, then you are most certainly suffering from poor time management!
We all go through cycles when work feels “out of control”. However, there are strategies that can prevent the lion’s share of this stress. Where time management is concerned — it seems that we can turn out to be our own worst enemies. All of us have the same 24 hours; the challenge however is to use this resource efficiently.
But while there is no one-size-fits-all plan for time management, there sure are some fundamental rules that can help you get a solid grip on the issue.
Where do you start?
The best place to begin managing your time well is with yourself! When you face the reality that you might be the reason behind some of your own time issues, you are all set to alter your habits. Time management issues often stem from poor work habits; therefore, you need to analyze how you utilize your time. To start with, it’s a great idea to keep a log for some days, making a list of your activities and how much time you spend on each. After a few days, look at them and ask yourself: What all activities can be performed only by me and what all can be delegated, eliminated or better managed? After this exercise, you might be able to identify your own time wasters.
Plan & Prioritize:
You can avoid a lot of headaches if you have a planned system in place. Planning is the basic building block of time management and can help you feel more in control. But it isn’t just enough to make a great plan or agenda. You must also know how to implement it well. Make a to-do list and put the most significant tasks right at the top. Keep a calendar of your everyday activities to reduce conflicts and last-minute rushes. Time-consuming but comparatively insignificant tasks consume a lot of your day. So set goals and prioritize and ensure that you spend your time and energy on things that are really important.
If you find it difficult to get your work done because of drop-in visitors, try closing your door to avoid interruptions. You don’t really want to lock people out all day long, but this is a great technique when you really want to focus for an hour or two. Also responding to mails and calls every now and then is a huge time waster. Instead, allocate time for both, perhaps 10 mins every hour so that you are able to respond to significant issues as they come up.
Take a break to unwind:
Constant worry and pressure can often disrupt your efforts at getting organized. So, when you feel like taking a break, take one. Go for a walk or do some quick stretches. You’ll surely come back to work feeling more revived and with renewed focus. A lot of people also work through their lunch breaks not realising that this saps their energy completely. So a 30 minute break is highly recommended so that you are more efficient in the afternoon.
The best time management plans are often holistic and they cover your entire life, rather than just your working hours. So try scheduling your time for family, friends or your unique interests. It might take years to become proficient at time management but these small positive changes can definitely prove beneficial in the longer run.