“If only I had more time!” How many times have you heard this expression before? Frankly, if you are reading this article, you probably say it yourself every now and again. One thing is for sure, if you understand and practice the key principles of effective time management you will have more time available for the things you want to do.
The single most important aspect of effective time management is to understand about the things that rob you of your precious time resource. I call these “time robbers” and they tend to fall into one of three main categories:
In the current technological age of mobile phones and e-mail, we are almost totally accessible during every working hour of the day. Although you cannot stop interruptions altogether, it is important to manage how and when they occur. When you have deadlines to meet it is important to set time aside when interruptions are kept to the minimum. This means being prepared to turn off your mobile phone and managing to ignore the constant barrage of e-mail. Keeping interruptions to the minimum is a key component of effective time management
- Poor planning
It has been said many times before “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail”. Poor planning is a major source of lost time at home and in the workplace, but how do you avoid it? There is no simple answer, but allowing yourself time to think things through is a useful starting point. I consider myself an effective planner, but bad planning strikes at any time and can cause immense stress. An example of this happened to me the other day, when I was held up painting a wall because the one thing I had overlooked was the brush! This piece of bad planning cost me an hour of my precious weekend time and you can imagine the stress of driving to the local DIY store, queuing up to pay and the inevitable weekend traffic jams going into town! This could have been avoided by more effectively planning the job. Some people think they’re just too busy to sit down and plan. Can you wonder why?
- Procrastination (putting things off)
There isn’t a person on this planet that hasn’t been guilty of this time waster. We all like to do the easy jobs first, when it is often best to clear the difficult tasks first of all. But how do you motivate yourself to overcome procrastination? Perhaps the simplest is to set yourself a deadline. It concentrates the mind and generally achieves better results. Better still, think about rewarding yourself with a treat when that difficult job is done. In order to complete this article I have promised myself a cup of coffee when I have unfinished, but not before!
Effective time management isn’t rocket science. It’s mainly about improving your awareness of how your time is ‘spent’ during the day. One thing is for sure, if you get to the balance right and begin managing those time bandits, you will tend to spend more time available to do the things you want to do.
By John Benson