12 Steps to manage time effectively
Time is the most scarce and valuable resource we have. If we don’t manage our time well we can feel frustrated, unfulfilled and stressed out. When considering time management it is important for all of us to spend our time doing those things that we value.
1) Know your goals in life:
Identify the values, activities and goals that are most important in your life. Goals give you structure and direction in life. Goals can also be broken down into short-term and long-term goals. Make sure you have both.
2) Rank priorities:
The Italian economist Pareto gave his name to the Pareto principle or the 80/20 rule. 20% of your effort will bring 80% of your rewards. Pareto suggested we recognise and prioritise the 20%. Ask yourself, “How important is this to me?”
3) Plan and write it down:
There is a misconception that planning adds time to a task. Minutes spent in planning will be saved many times over. Use a calendar, diary and “to do” lists. When you are feeling listless make a list. A written plan gives us the ability to stand back and develop “helicopter vision”. Writing plans enhances perspective.
4) Delegate tasks:
One of the biggest causes of stress is the notion that we have to do everything by ourselves. Take a look at your schedule and decide what to be handed on to somebody else.
5) Work out a system:
A lack of structure makes unnecessary work, wastes time and creates frustration. Spend time organising your environment that you have a place for everything and have everything in its place. Establish a regular routine, carving out protected time for high priority activities.
6) Don’t procrastinate:
By putting off today’s tasks until tomorrow you are simply storing up work for yourself. Set yourself deadlines, use them to increase motivation and maybe add inbuilt rewards. It is okay to reward yourself for a job well done or for exercising discipline for an unwelcome task.
7) Leave free time in your timetable:
Never fill up your timetable completely. Always allow a little slack or leeway. Then something crops up, you are not overwhelmed.
8) Learn to say no:
If we cannot ‘turn off the tap’ of demands and requests from others we simply have no control over our lives. We will end up in the servant to the priorities of others, constantly deflected from what we really want to do.
9) One thing at a time:
We may have many things to do but we cannot do them all at the same time. Important tasks usually require alcohol concentration and focus. This is not to say that you cannot double up at times, by for example defining and watching television.
10) Identify prime-time:
Identify when you work best to plan a time for your most demanding tasks. For most people it is early in the morning, with performance tailing off by lunchtime. Similarly, allocate undemanding tasks to times when your energy levels may be low.
11) Overcome perfectionism:
If you have to get everything absolutely right you will find it difficult to vary your speeds according to priorities. The perfectionist often becomes bogged down in small details, missing out on the broader picture. Dare to be average!
12) Keep a balance:
Vary and contrast activities in different areas of your life, spending time in a balance between work, home, leisure, physical activity and mental activity. Plan natural breaks during the day, relax at weekends and take holidays.
Life is happening right now as we speak, it is finite – use it wisely!