The idea of “time management” has been in existence for more than 100 years. Unfortunately, the term “Time Management” creates a false impression of what a person is able to do. Time can’t be managed; it is uncontrollable—we can manage only ourselves and our use or time. Time management is actually self management. It is interesting that the skills we need to manage others are the same skills we need to manage ourselves, such as the ability to plan, delegate, organize, direct and control.
There are common time-wasters that need to be identified and dealt with. It is important to know what aspects or our personal time personal management need to be improved. Below you will find some of the most frequent reasons for reducing effectiveness in the workplace. Underline the ones that are major obstacles to your own time management.
- Interruptions (telephone calls or personal visitors).
- Tasks you should have delegated.
- Procrastination and indecision.
- Acting with incomplete information.
- Dealing with team members.
- Crisis management.
- Unclear communication.
- Inadequate technical knowledge.
- Unclear objectives and priorities.
- Lack of planning.
- Stress and fatigue.
- Inability to say “No” or “Yes, but … .”
- Desk management and personal disorganization.
Fortunately, there are strategies you can use to manage your time, be more in control and reduce stress; you can analyze your time and see how you may be both the cause and the solution to your time challenges. Here are some strategies to consider:
Define your objectives as clearly as possible. If you find you are not doing what you should be doing, it is likely because you have not set your goals. Successful people work out what they want to achieve by having written goals that they review constantly. Your long-term goals should impact on your daily activities and be included on your “to do” list.
Analyze your use of time. Do you spend enough time on projects that will develop yourself or your company? Constantly ask, “What is the most important use of my time?” This will help you focus on important tasks and stop reacting to tasks that seem urgent but carry little or no importance.
Have a plan. It is extremely difficult to achieve goals without a plan. Most people know what they want but have no plan to achieve it except by sheer hard work, which is not as effective as smart work. Your yearly plan should be reviewed regularly and revised as your goals are met. Successful people make lists constantly to stay on top of priorities and to remain flexible to changing priorities.
Action plan analysis. Problems will always occur; the value of a good plan is to identify them early and seek solutions. Good time management enables you to measure progress towards goals because “what you measure, you control.” Be proactive.
Time management is easy to understand if you are committed to building time management techniques into your daily routine. If you aren’t, then you’ll achieve only limited results and then make comments such as, “I tried time management once and it didn’t work for me.” The more time we spend planning our time and activities, the more time we will have for those activities. By setting goals and eliminating time-wasters every day, you may have extra time to spend on those special people and activities.
About the Author
L. Douglas Mault is president of the Executive Advisory Institute, Yakima, Wash. (See his ad on page 69.)