"No time to say hello. Goodbye! I'm late, late...!" sounds familiar? Well, it's the March Hare in Alice in Wonderland. For some of us, it could well be the oft-repeated refrain of our lives. However, there is absolutely NO reason why it should be so. Especially because we can and do know how to manage time - time being that precious limited resource, and the importance of its management.
A few time management strategies are outlined below to help you in your quest to take control of the minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, and years of an entire life!
- State your goals - long term and short term. Once your goals are stated, then it becomes easier for you to see which tasks contribute to your goals and which don't. This helps when you are prioritizing or removing tasks from your list.
- List all the tasks you need to get done.
- Break down these tasks as below, and prioritize and fit the ‘1' and ‘3' type tasks into one calendar. This calendar should be a reasonable schedule of your tasks with achievable goals and time-frames.
- Critical and therefore immediate and urgent,
- Can be done as efficiently, or better, or well enough by somebody else with a clear communication of the goal,
- Can be carried forward to another time, and immediate fulfillment is not necessary,
- Tasks that are not job-critical, life-critical or provide pleasure and do not add value. Discard these.
- Where difficult tasks exist, break them into smaller tasks with smaller goals. This can also help in the fulfillment of a task that seems cumbersome because of its uninteresting nature or its seemingly tough nature. When the smaller goals are achieved, the bigger goal falls into place and is achieved with much less heartburn and strain.
- Reward yourself post-achievement for difficult or mundane chores, by interspersing them with interesting or challenging activities or a short break.
- Remove or organize all irritants or interruptions. These would be primarily telephone calls, email or visitors. Ensure that the incoming email beep is switched off, or the email program is closed when you sit down to work. In the same manner, mute the telephone ringer when you are at work, as per your set plan for the day. Just as you planned and prioritized the pending tasks well ahead of time, set a schedule for checking emails and calls received. Similarly, outgoing calls can be made during a set time, usually in the mornings.
- Don't waste resources - every minute is precious, and doing whatever portion you can of your listed tasks brings your closer to the finish line.
- Review your schedule against what you have achieved. This review will help you in assessing your planning and scheduling, and allow you to see where you need to spend more or less time. It may also help you in removing certain items from the list where you don't see them contributing to moving forward.
Time management is just a discipline, a way of life. It comes with practice and also can be your greatest asset - a strategy that helps you make the best use of your time.