“Time is what we want most, but what we use worst.” –William Penn
Let’s face it, our lives are hectic. We find ourselves engaged in a constant battle trying to balance our professional and personal lives. Most of us find it a real struggle trying to find time for personal commitments, with looming deadlines, big and small projects to finish, emails to reply to and long hours at work. With more responsibilities and demands both at home and work, we always feel rushed off our feet, trying to catch up. The common complaint is- so little time and increased pressure to do more. So how can we manage our time better so that we do things for the right reason and in the right way? The simple answer is –Time Management. It is THE mantra for staying focused and composed when the world around you is chaotic.
Unfortunately, a lot of us harbor a misconception about time management- that it is about finding time to get more done. Not really! Time management certainly is not about squeezing more tasks into your day. This clouded view will only lead to added stress and feeling overwhelmed over time. So what is the right way to approach time management?
Nuggets Of Wisdom About Essentialism In Time Management
“It is about making the wisest possible investment of your time and energy in order to operate at our highest point of contribution by doing only what is essential.”
“Wise time management is not about doing more. It’s about doing more of what matter most.”
“Many capable people are kept from getting to the next level of contribution because they can’t let go of the belief that everything is important.”
“To be effective, you don’t do more. You do less better.”
These four statements encapsulate the true spirit of time management. It is about managing your schedule to make the best use of your time. Being able to plot time blocks can help you prepare for future events and better identify priorities to fulfill obligations, without getting overwhelmed.
Mastering Time Management Skills
Here are three time management skills you should have to become more efficient and effective for the rest of your life.
1. Know Your Goals
The first step in the journey to managing time is getting the right things done and accepting the power we have to choose. What are the things that matter the most to you and how do you define success? Knowing your purpose and setting achievement, preservation or elimination goals helps. Attending to tasks linked to your goals and objectives, whether they are short term, medium or long term, can save you a lifetime of stress. If you are doing tasks that are not getting you closer to your goals and objectives, then most likely it is not getting you any closer to where you want to be. You have a choice about what to do to achieve your goals and you most definitely have control over your actions. Though sometimes you are going to have to make trade-offs to reach your goals.
2. How To Discern The Vital From The Trivial
You do not have to work faster or get rid of gaps in productivity to use your time better. You just need to spend more time on the right things. To get the right things done, you have to place value on what is critical, and get rid of what can be ignored. It may mean saying ‘No’ to you need to say no to the wrong things, whether it is an activity, certain responsibility or even your job. If it doesn’t serve your purpose then don’t spend your valuable time on it. Sometimes you may not be able to do away with it right, for example, your job, but you can plan and work towards it over time, by taking constructive actions like searching for a new job or starting your own business. As Goethe said, “Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.”
Once you know why you are doing things and have set goals, then the next logical step is doing them at the right time, which essentially means prioritizing tasks. All tasks are not equally urgent and important. By prioritizing tasks, you will always be focusing on the tasks that are the most important at that moment in time. Prioritizing tasks is the answer to all time management problems as you will focused on the tasks that are crucial at that moment in time. Remember the Pareto principle, also known as the 80/20 rule, to prioritize according to the amount of effort that is required to complete tasks and the impact that they will have. It stresses the importance of doing 20% of your tasks which bring you 80% of your results. Instead of working on high impact and high effort jobs, spend time on tasks that are low effort and high impact to maximize productivity.
2. Get Organized
The last piece in the time management puzzle is doing things in the right way. A lack of organization leads to wasted time, and you jump from one task to another without really finishing any. A good time planning system can help you plan your life and improve your organizational skills. It will have a master list to capture all your tasks, goals, and required action you need to take as it comes up. The next most important tool in a time-planning system is a calendar that helps you plan several months ahead and can vastly improve your organizational skill. It also helps to keep a daily list of most important things you need to get done, like a ‘‘to-do list.’’
It is better to organize like tasks together and stick to a routine. For example, if you lots of calls to return, pick a set time and do them altogether. Similarly reply to all your emails at set times of the day and preferably have a filing system that works for your emails. Keep your desk and office organized and tidy so that you are aware of where everything is.
Time Is Your Friend
Improving your time management skills can help you live a life the really matters. Because at its core, it is about knowing what is truly important and doing things that help you increase productivity throughout your life. Go ahead and leave your mark on the world.