Time management is indeed as important to those who have too many tasks too do with little time, as it is to those who have too much time and little to do. In fact, the best key for avoiding the feeling of anxiety, being out of control or boredom is to be able to manage one’s time. The central principle for time management is to learn to spend your time in doing those things that you value or that help you achieve your goals. In fact, most of us tend to unconsciously find ourselves engaged in activities that we neither value nor help us in achieving our goals. As a matter of fact, being unclear about one’s values and goals is the major reason behind this mistake.
One of the ways that one could refer to be able to identify one’s values & long term goals is by applying the following simple exercise. Imagine that your funeral is in three years time from today, and start thinking what you would like people to say about you. The point of this exercise is not to think about your death, but about the kind of person you want to be and the kinds of things you wish to achieve. Three years interval was meant to be chosen as it is far enough away for you to do new things, as well as near enough not to feel remote.
The purpose of this exercise is to help you realize what is important to you. By the time you are done with it, you should be ready to write a statement about your own goals & values. This statement should provide you with a touchstone against which you choose your priorities and decide how to spend your time. However, while we are developing our statement, we need to bear in mind that this statement could be prone to gradual or sudden changes as one grows older. You shall always bear in mind that regardless of the changes, it must always reflect your values & goals.
In fact, identifying one’s values and goals is only one step to personal or time management. One needs to act in accordance with them. The following are nine tools that could be used as a guide to put you on the road to getting organized.
1) Use Your Starter Motor:
This is the first tool of time management and is probably the most difficult. It is about getting to the task at hand. One shall try not to spent time in that limbo of neither getting down to the work nor enjoying your leisure. However, there are certain tips that one may follow to facilitate this process.
The following are some of them:
A) Create a good work environment: try and keep a particular place, a room or part of a room, for work. Make this place attractive in your own particular way.
B) Line the tasks before hand: Plan in advance what it is you are going to work on to avoid referring back to uncertainty as an excuse for doing something else or not getting started. Avoid being too ambitious, set yourself specific targets that you can certainly manage in the time available, and then do something extra if there is still time.
C) Keep the benefits of study clearly in mind: Need to determine the benefits of a task, especially if it is a large one, before actually engaging in it as you may loose your initial enthusiasm and may never find the energy to start.
D) Leave your work environment inviting for the next time: Spend the last few minutes of the study period tidying up and getting ready for the next session so that it will be easy to start.
2) Make routine your servant
Making a task a routine is one of the techniques to help you get down to work. You would find yourself getting the task done, before even thinking about not doing it.
3) Every Yes is a No to something else
Many of the best things in life arise by chance, but the mistake most of us make is to say yes to too many things, to the extent that we end up living according to the priorities of others and not ours. We fail to recognize that doing one thing means sacrificing another. In other words, when someone asks you to do something, think of yourself: "if I say yes to this, from what other activity will I take away the time? One needs to have the assertiveness skill, to be able to say "no" and hence become capable of organizing his own time.
4) Distant Elephants
It is advisable not to commit yourself to unimportant activities no matter how far ahead they are. In other words, do not simply accept to engage in a task that is still far ahead before you are sure that you won’t need to sacrifice other important ones that you already have.
Big projects often pose particular difficulties. They could be daunting at the beginning because they are so big, and they can be dispiriting in the middle when the initial blush of enthusiasm has paled and the end is still out of sight. Therefore, one of the ways that one may refer to, to overcome this problem is the "salami" technique. The principle of salami revolves around the fact that large tasks should be broken into series of small tasks, in order to be able to go through this task smoothly.
6) The Curse of Perfectionism
Perfectionism is one of the causes of slowness in work. For most activities, there comes a stage when there is not much to be gained from putting in a great deal more effort. It is usually possible to spot when this stage has been reached. This is the tie to call a halt and focus on something else. In other words, do not spend too much time on one task, when you could use this extra time in getting done with another.
7) Once Past the Desk
To prevent wasting your time when getting a task done, you need to apply the rule of once past the desk, which dictates you to either deal with the task straight away, or decide when to deal with it and put it aside until that time. In fact, this rule involves four steps:
A) A quick assessment in reference to one’s values to avoid undertaking those tasks those are unimportant.
B) Decide when you need to get done with it
C) Put the matter aside until the allotted time
D) Carry out the action at the allotted time
8) Appointments Need to end as well as start
One needs to be aware of when appointments are due to end as when they begin. In other words, when you arrange the time to meet with someone, you also need to arrange the time to finish. This is important to put into consideration primarily, because it helps you to know when you will be free for other activities. Secondly, if everyone knows when the meeting will end, people will make better use of the time spent together.
9) Make time to plan
The last tool of time management is to schedule a regular time to plan one’s activities. The time spent in planning will be definitely saved many times over. It is also advisable to review one’s priorities from time to time.
To conclude managing your time is about managing yourself. To manage your time you need first to identify your values and goals. Once you have passed this stage you may abide to these nine suggested tools or techniques to be able to organize your time according to your values and goals.