“Time management is not a peripheral activity or skill. It is the core skill upon which everything else in life depends.” — Brian Tracy
Are you usually punctual or late? Do you finish things within the set time? Do you hand in your reports/work on time? Are you able to achieve what you want within the deadlines?
If your answer to any of the questions above is “No”, that means you are not managing your time properly and you need to develop a few skills around it.
Some of the skills include:
- Staying organized
- Prioritizing what you need to accomplish
- Setting clear goals
- Strong communication skills
- Effectively planning out the day
- Practicing delegation of tasks
- Handling stress in a positive way
Popular Techniques used for Managing Time:
- The 80/20 principle: The 80/20 principle is also known as the Pareto’s principle that suggests that 80% of the results come from 20% of the actions or efforts. This means that:
• 20 percent of your customers will account for 80 percent of your sales.
• 20 percent of your products or services will account for 80 percent of your profits.
Pareto’s principle keeps time management at the center stage by letting you focus on the most important tasks, rather than spending time on such tasks that are not going to make much of a difference. It may be a little difficult at the beginning but you will eventually get used to it. You will see a rise in your productivity and will be able to manage your time and effort better.
- The ABCDE method: If you’re struggling to manage and spend your time efficiently, try setting priorities with the ABCDE method. This method can be a useful time management technique for work and personal use in the following way:
This method starts with the listing of tasks at hand and then categorizes each task as A, B, C, D and E in which:
• A stands for the most important tasks: You have to complete these tasks at any cost otherwise it could have serious consequences.
• B stands for less important tasks: These tasks also needs to be done but in such a way that too much time is not spent on it (unlike the ones falling in the above category) but at the same time, the quality of the work should also not get affected.
• C stands for tasks with no consequences: Such tasks are something that would be nice to do, but which have no consequence at all, whether you do it or not.
• D stands for tasks to be delegated: If there is something that could be delegated to someone else, it would be marked as D. However, it could be situational because not every task could be delegated to someone else.
• E stands for tasks you can eliminate: An E task is something that is completely irrelevant and can be eliminated as doing them is not going to do any good to your productivity and efficiency.
- The 4D system: Have you heard of 4 D’s of Time Management? Simply put, these 4 D’s refer to DELETE, DELEGATE, DEFER, and DO. Let’s discuss them in brief:
• Delete (Drop): There are always some tasks that don’t require your attention and can be simply deleted from your list.
• Delegate: Develop the habit of delegating. If someone can do the job even 75% as good as you; delegate it to him/her. If there is no one capable enough for you to delegate the work, then start training individuals or you can even outsource the task.
• Defer: Not everything is supposed to be done immediately. If there is something that can be done later and has no serious repercussions, defer it.
• Do: If there is something important to be done and you have the time to do it, then get it done there and then.
Quick Tips (Action Points) to manage time:
- Set goals correctly: To manage time well one needs to have a clear idea of what is to be done. Start setting goals that are achievable and measurable. Use the SMART method while setting goals – they should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely.
- Set a time limit to complete a task: Setting time constraints for completion of tasks helps you become more focused and efficient. It is always beneficial to make an extra effort to decide and allot time that you would need for a particular task. This will assist you to recognize the potential problems before they arise. Hence one can make plans to deal with them.
- Take a break between tasks: When you tend to do a lot of tasks without a break, it is harder to stay focused and motivated. Take small breaks in between tasks to clear your head and refresh yourself. One can grab a coffee, go for a short walk or meditate.
- Organize yourself: Utilize your calendar for more long-term time management. Write down the deadlines for projects, or for tasks that are part of completing the overall project. Think about which days might be best to dedicate to specific tasks.
- Plan ahead: Make sure you start every day with a clear idea of what you need to do – what needs to get done THAT DAY. Consider making it a habit. At the end of each workday, go ahead and write out your “to-do” list for the next workday. That way you can hit the ground running the next morning.
- Learn to Say “No”: Don’t take on more than you can handle. For the distractions that come in when you’re doing other things, give a firm NO. Or defer it for a later period.
- Block out Distractions: What’s distracting you in your work? Instant messages? Phone ringing? Text messages popping in? When doing important work, put the phone on silent mode or switch it off and return the call afterward if they seem to be important. This helps you to concentrate better.
- No multitasking — Quality over Quantity: Instead of dividing your attention into three different things, it’s better to focus entirely on one thing and marvel at it. To make it more effective, try time boxing them. It refers to the act of allocating a time-frame for every task which in return, increases the likelihood of its successful completion.
Time management plays an important role in our day-to-day lives. Even educating yourself about the basic time management tips can do wonders in your life. Every minute is precious; don’t waste it doing something that isn’t adding any value to your life.