Time and tide wait for none, goes the old adage. In today’s highly competitive world, only those people can manage to survive and make it big who know how to manage their time wisely. Put simply, time is money. Time is a person’s best investment as also his most precious saving.
Without the right time management skills, it would be foolish to expect success to come knocking on the door. So instead of letting precious moments slip out of hand like sand, everyone, no matter what their calling is, must learn the art of time management and put their time to good use.
Time Management Skills
There are no set rules for time management that suits everybody. Every person must find out individually what works out best for them. Yet, a few pointers may come handy.
Organize your thoughts
Organization is the most important part of time management. An organized mind functions better than a confused and dazed one. One must have a clear idea of one’s goals in life. These ideas must then materialize into concrete thoughts and images. Once such clear goals are set, a lot of uncertainty is removed and one’s thinking becomes clear and straight.
Set realistic Goals
It is wonderful to have high hopes and ambitions but it is equally important to be realistic and stay grounded. Goals must be achievable and not overwhelming. It is also important to have both short term and long term goals. The short term goals should be set in such a way that they facilitate the achievement of your long term goals.
Planning and writing down your daily tasks is an essential part of good time management. You can make use of the various types of planners available in the market, or if you like to be more creative and not limited by commercial planners, make your own unique planner.
It is important to not only plan your daily activities, but also plan ahead for an entire week and roughly for the entire month. You should also have a fair idea of where you wish to be and what you wish to achieve by the end of a year. Of course it is important to stay realistic while planning and not be too hard on yourself, but at the same time try not to be too lenient as well.
Prioritization is the key to achieving your goals on time. It is very important that you do the task that is most important for the present moment. There are many methods to help guide the prioritization process:
The ABC method: this involves grouping tasks in the order of their importance and urgency into three categories, A, B and C. A group includes those tasks that need immediate attention and are the most urgent while C group includes tasks that are least important and not urgent.
Pareto Analysis or the 80-20 rule: this is based on the Pareto principle that assumes that 80% of problems have 20% causes. The idea here is to identify the key problems and their causes and then score the problems and categorize them according to their causes. Once this is done, maximum priority is given to the group which has the highest score. So in effect, rectifying the cause of the group with the highest score, a maximum number of problems can be solved.
The Eisenhower method: this method uses a box that categorizes tasks according to their importance and urgency. Tasks that come under important and urgent are given first priority while those which are not important and not urgent are avoided. Tasks which are important but not urgent are done at a later time and those tasks which are urgent but not important are delegated to subordinates.
Procrastination is like a poison that destroys all your efforts at successful time management. It must be considered evil and needs to be avoided at all costs. Anything that is not done today because it is undesirable will not be interesting at any later date. Thus it is better to get such tasks done as early as possible so that they are out of the way. A well known poet has summed up this fact beautifully saying, ‘whatever can be done tomorrow, do it today; whatever can be done today, do it now’.
Make use of idle time
We hardly realize how much time we waste without doing anything productive. Such time can be used as a tool to plan the day’s activities and also reflect on the time spent. Time spent for activities like jogging, walking, driving, etc. are ideal for such reflection.
It is important to stick to a plan once you have made it, but one must not overdo it. If for some reason, certain tasks cannot be performed on a given date and time, the plan must be flexible enough to include changes to the schedule. Allowances must be made for certain contingencies, health issues, emergencies, etc.
Have a Plan B
While it is important to set realistic goals and achieve them, one must also have a back up plan, incase the first one fails. It is unwise to sit and cry over spilt milk while your competitors overtake you. Precious time is lost and it becomes difficult to start from scratch. Thus, it is always advisable to have a good backup plan and make the most of all available time to put your winning streak right back on track.
Once you have your entire day’s activities chalked out, you have a clear idea of what is to be done and when. Yet, this will not prove useful unless you are able to stay entirely focused on the task at hand and not worry or think about other tasks to be done at a later time. This will only waste time and result in non-completion of the activity on time.
Rewarding yourself for achieving your goals serves as a good impetus to work enthusiastically. There is always a hidden joy in allowing yourself some luxury if you accomplish something you set out to do.
Set earlier deadlines for yourself
A very useful tool to achieve your goals on time is to set your own personal deadlines a little earlier than the official date and time. This way you can be assured of completing a task on time and you also have time for any sudden changes and corrections if necessary.
Prevent Burnout and Stress
The very purpose of acquiring time management skills is to achieve goals on time in the most organized fashion. Therefore, if you are still experiencing stress and burning out, you must be doing something wrong. It is very important not to overburden yourself, and to set only realistic and achievable goals. You must also make sure you include time for recreation and family in your agenda.
Time management is a very powerful tool that can be used and perfected by everyone. The earlier one starts to organize their time and learn to prioritize their duties, the more successful he/she is bound to be in later life. After all, it’s your time and you are the best judge on how to make the most of it.
Photo Credit: Xprojectmanagement.com