This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Have you ever met someone who is highly accomplished at work, calm and organized at home, and still finds time for sports, hobbies and friends? Did you ever wonder how he or she got that way? Did you think that person was lucky, or just born with it? There is a secret to achieving that kind of life, the kind that brings you not just professional success but relaxation and pleasure too. The secret is time management, and anyone can master it through study and practice. "Management" and "planning" are words we typically associate with the business world. Because of their dry, boring, workaday sound, we may think they have no place in our personal lives. But after completing this session, you will find that incorporating time management and planning into the way you live will not only work wonders for your career, but will bring about dramatic improvements in your life as a whole.
The Benefits of Good Time Management
Here are some of the many benefits of getting a grip on time: 1. You will reduce stress in your life, which can lead to serious health problems, including ulcers and heart attacks. 2. You will lead a more balanced life, with time for leisure pursuits, friends, and family. 3. You will have more focus on each of the things you do. 4. You will become more reliable to other people. 5. You will experience less pressure, and feel more in control. 6. You will achieve more in your career. 7. You will get what you want out of life. Does this last item sound like a bold claim? It isn't. The people who achieve their dreams had to acknowledge those dreams in the first place; the essence of time management is to make your dream a goal, break it down into small, manageable steps, and start to take them today.
Achieving Work-Life Balance Improving time management can provide stress relief, increase your decision making ability, and make setting priorities easier. Find
out how with these time management tips. Why Manage Your Time?
Where Does It All Go?
The first step in learning how to manage your time is to understand where it goes. There are many ways in which we use up our time, or create schedules which cause us to feel overwhelmed. Depending on what kind of person you are, you probably face a few of the following hurdles: • Procrastinating: means putting off a task until later. Procrastination comes in two forms, overt and covert. Overt procrastination is easy enough to identify: You know very well that you are procrastinating when you put off starting a homework assignment and watch television instead. But examine your life carefully for signs of covert procrastination. Suppose you have two tasks you must complete at work. The more important one is challenging and stressful. The other one is easy but time-consuming. If you spend your morning doing the easy, time-consuming task, you are covertly procrastinating. You look busy, and it may appear to others and even to yourself that you are working hard. But putting off the most difficult and important work until later is just another way to procrastinate. Perfectionism: Some people will not begin a task because they fear that they will not do it perfectly, which will cause them to feel rejection. Others will start a job, but then refuse to let go of it for the same reason. They may do a job over and over until they feel that it is just right. If you have perfectionist tendencies, breaking the habit will help bring time under your control. For example, if you are sending an internal company memo to a colleague, proofreading it once is probably enough -- you are wasting time if you proofread it again and again. Overload: Anybody who really "does it all" is likely to drive herself crazy. Good time management means knowing what tasks you should delegate to others, what to pay or persuade someone else to do, and what to cut out of your schedule altogether.
Wasted Time: We are wasting time when we do something that is neither enjoyable nor useful, and that could have been avoided. It is a waste of time to watch a television show you do not like, take a long-winded phone call from a telemarketer, or wait in a line at the post office that you could have avoided by going earlier or sending someone else. Simple, wasted time is the most straightforward and easy-to-identify logjam in most people's schedules.
Losing Time: Another Look
Time is egalitarian: We each have 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and 52 weeks a year. And yet some people make each and every hour count, while others fritter them away and still feel stressed out. Below is a list of common time-wasters. As you review the list, think about how each one fits into your life, and what you can do about it.
Television and the Internet
These two great sources of news and entertainment also have a way of sucking us into a virtual world of programs we do not want to see, information we do not need to know, and things we do not want to buy -- and in the process, consuming hours of our time. So what can you do about it: If you are a heavy user of television or the web at home, put yourself on a strict media diet.
Do not make a habit of leaving the television on as background noise when you are doing something else. If your favourite, can't-miss, one-hour drama airs on Monday nights from eight to nine, turn your television on at eight, and off at nine. • If you get sucked into mindless channel surfing or watching bad cable shows, get your cable turned off. You can always watch the network news, listen to NPR and rent movies. • As for the web, if you want to look up the price of a camera online, look it up -- and then get off. And if you want to check your email? Do it once, then log off. Don't compulsively check mail every two seconds. Do it at set intervals, now more than once every two hours.
Commuting times have increased steadily for the last decade thanks to growing congestion and sprawl in most urban areas. But you can do something about it! It may be impossible to reduce your commute right away, but consider at least some of these steps. • If you work close enough to home, consider commuting by bicycle or on foot. You will arrive at work feeling awake and energized, and exercising on your way to work means fewer time-consuming trips to the gym. Exercise also improves the quality of your sleep. • If you commute by car in a city with decent public transportation, consider switching to a bus or train. It may save you money on gasoline and parking, reduce stress, and allow you to read or work while you travel. • If you must commute by car, consider doing something productive while you drive. Listen to a book on tape or, if your state permits driving while using a hands-free telephone, use this time to make or return calls. If you live far from work, seriously consider moving closer. (If you have multiple family members whom you see frequently, try to live close to at least one person's place of work or school). Your housing may cost more, but it will probably reduce your travel expenses. And how much of your life do you really want to spend commuting?
Our homes and our things do not just tick along without a helping hand. They all take time to maintain. Having a second home, for instance, sounds like a great idea, but can also cause feelings of stress and responsibility, as well as guilt over not using it as often as you think you should. Remember that most big-ticket items you purchase, like appliances, vehicles and sports equipment, will also take time and money to maintain. Do you really need a new item? Do you have old ones you can get rid of?
Once upon a time, each individual crossed paths with many fewer people in a lifetime than we do today. People tended to live in the same place all their lives, and even if they lived in busy cities, the custom was to pursue only one career. You would, back then, have known fewer people than you do today, and if one of those people wanted to reach you, it would have taken time and planning: Walking to you on foot, riding a horse, sending a messenger. Now that has all changed, and one result is that literally thousands of people could, if they wanted to, contact you in a single day. You may have days when you feel like they are all trying to do just that. An important part of time management is learning how and when to shut out other people. What does that mean in practical terms? Here's one basic piece of advice: Just because you get 20 pieces of personal email a day doesn't mean you have to answer them. Answer the important ones; let the rest slide.
Time Management Basics
There are some fundamental elements of time management that can help you get a grip on your time and your life. Before we move on to our next lesson, we'll introduce you to a few basic concepts of time management. Then, throughout this course, we will elaborate and build on the ideas presented here.
Know Your Dreams
What do you want out of life? Do you want to sail away on your own yacht, become a talk show host, have a family? Identify your dreams, however distant they may seem. Without these, you cannot make yourself a road map -- a key tool in your time management arsenal.
Set Some Goals
As well as dreams, each person should have goals for the medium term (six months to five years), the short term (one week to six months), and even for every day.
Know Where You Are Now
To get where you need to go, you need to figure out where you are. In a later assignment you will be asked to keep a time log that records how you spend every hour of the week.
Make a Roadmap
The key to making a plan is breaking down your goals and dreams into manageable tasks. Achieving your dream of sailing away on a yacht may seem overwhelming when contrasted with your current job, income, and daily commute. But if you break it down into steps, it starts to look more doable. For example, taking a sailing class or starting to put 10 percent of your paycheck into a savings account may be goals you can meet within the next six months. To plan properly you will have to make lists, which we will discuss further in Lesson Two.
It is crucial that you learn to rank the tasks you want to accomplish by order of importance. As you do this, you will identify highpayoff activities and learn to distinguish them from low-payoff activities.
Lists are only as effective as they are realistic. If you keep including five tasks on your daily list that never get accomplished, it will only increase your sense of frustration. Decide whether those five undone tasks are really important. If they are not, wipe them off your list for good, and if they are, make sure you set aside time to accomplish them. Likewise, do not plan to accomplish something in six months that will realistically take two years.
Do One Thing at a Time
In the modern workplace it is sometimes impossible to avoid multi-tasking. But try to keep it to a minimum, as it often causes people to use up more time than simply allotting a period for each task. For instance, if you take phone calls while you are trying to read a report, then every time you return to the report, you have to find your place again. You could save time by letting voice mail answer the phone while you are reading, and then returning the important calls when you are finished.
Days, months or years without appropriate rewards for your hard work will quickly come to seem very dismal indeed. Break up your years with large rewards and your workdays with small ones. For example, if you accomplish the two things you set out to do in a morning, then do not blaze right into the next task while eating lunch at your desk. Treat yourself to lunch in the park.
Overcoming Lateness and Procrastination
Getting There on Time
It is easy to recognize certain time-management problems and identify their solutions. If you are arriving at work late everyday, you probably need to catch an earlier bus, and to do that you may need to either shorten your morning shower or get up earlier. You may have to start going to bed at a different time. Sometimes, though, it just does not seem that easy. Even if we can see the problem, we cannot get ourselves on the earlier bus. If this is true of you, don't despair. A chronic tendency to be late or to procrastinate can be fixed, it will just take more thought and effort.
Continually showing up late tells others that you are selfish, inconsiderate, unreliable and unprofessional. It causes you stress and creates friction between you and others, who are probably far more annoyed by your habitual tardiness than they let on. If you are chronically late, you need to ask yourself why. Are you addicted to pressure? Are you trying to sabotage yourself? Are you overcommitted? Do you lie to yourself about how long things will take? While you are thinking about it, try these tricks to help change your ways. • Use a timer or alarm clock to tell you when to stop doing a task so that you have time to get to the next thing. • Set your clock or watch five minutes ahead. • Put off distractions. If you notice or remember something that needs to be done just as you are leaving, write a note to yourself and do it later. • Try to arrive early. If you always aim for eight and arrive at eight-fifteen, do everything in your power to arrive at seven forty-five. This is a surprisingly effective trick. • Streamline the process of getting ready. If you get bogged down trying on different outfits every morning, deal with it by planning what to wear the night before. • Always keep your keys, cell phone and other essentials in the same place, so that you do not spend time looking for them. • When you are late, acknowledge and apologize for it. After apologizing several times to the same group of people, you will probably grow more reluctant to do so, giving you added incentive to stop being late.
Learning to overcome procrastination may be the single most important step to gaining control over your life. Procrastination is what separates those who dream about succeeding from those who actually do. There are many reasons for procrastination: Perfectionism, a fear of failure, and reluctance to do a boring or difficult task are just a few. Sometimes we tell ourselves that we cannot do something until the time or circumstances are just right. Whatever your reasons are for procrastination, here are some steps you can take to overcome it: • Nothing helps resolve a procrastination deadlock like breaking down the problem. Instead of tackling a project all at once, separate it out into discrete tasks. If you have to do your taxes, for instance, you could decide that on day one you will assemble your paperwork, on day two you will fill out one form, on day three you will fill out a different form, and so on. Or, try breaking it down by time: On Monday, you will spend exactly one hour on your taxes. Knowing that after one hour you can quit makes it much easier to get started. • Reward yourself for tasks accomplished. • Alternate unpleasant tasks with ones that you enjoy. • Do the best you can with what you have. Do not wait until the stars are perfectly aligned to start a project; do it with the resources and knowledge that you have right now. • Get help. Sometimes we feel uneasy about facing a task because we are afraid that we do not know how to do it. If you admit this to yourself and get help, you may find that it was easier than you thought.
Finally, to overcome either procrastination or lateness, practice, practice, practice! The reduced stress and greater sense of accomplishment you feel will soon become their own reward.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?