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PRODUCTIVATE LIFE COACHING: TIME MANAGEMENT

Jun 15, 2022

By Zainub Jada
15:06:2022

Do you ever feel like there’s not enough time in the day?
We all get the same 24 hours – so why do some people seem to achieve more with their time than others?

The answer: good time management

DEFINITION
Time management is the process of planning and exercising conscious control of time spent on specific activities, significantly increasing effectiveness, efficiency, and productivity.

Time management is organising and planning how to divide your time between different activities. Get it right, and you’ll work smarter, not harder, to get more done in less time – even when time is tight and pressures are high.

THE BENEFITS OF GOOD TIME MANAGEMENT

  • When you know how to manage your time effectively, you can unlock many benefits. These include:
  • Relate more positively to others.
  • Greater productivity and efficiency.
  • Have more energy for things they need to accomplish.
  • Less stress.
  • A better professional reputation
  • Increased chances of advancement
  • More opportunities to achieve your life and career goals/more free time

Overall, you start feeling more in control, with the confidence to choose how best to use your time/feel better about yourself. And by feeling happier, more relaxed, and better able to think, you’re in a great place to help others reach their targets, too.

Good time management takes a shift in focus from activities to results. Being busy isn’t the same as being effective. In fact, for many people, the more active they are, the less they achieve.

HOW WELL DO YOU MANAGE YOUR TIME?

Start by assessing your existing approach. How good are you at organising your time to get the important things done well? Can you balance your time between different activities? And when you do make time to do something, are you able to focus – and get it finished?

TIME MANAGEMENT TOOLS/STRATEGIES

KNOW HOW YOU SPEND YOUR TIME
A time log is a helpful way to determine how you use your time. Record what you are doing in 15-minute intervals for a week or two. Evaluate the results:

  • Did everything you needed to do get done?
  • Which tasks require the most time?
  • What time of day is when you are most productive?
  • Where is most of your time devoted (i.e. job, family, personal, recreation)?
  • Identifying your most time-consuming tasks and determining whether you are investing your time in the most critical activities can help determine a course of action. Having a good sense of the time required for routine tasks can help you be more realistic in planning and estimating how much time is available for other activities.

BEING ORGANISED
Your ability to organise yourself has a significant impact on your success, and it can have a knock-on effect on your team members and co-workers, too.

You can lose a great deal of time to disorganisation. There is a minute here to find your keys and another to track down an email. Those minutes quickly mount up to hours of lost productivity. And even if you do manage to get everything done, you likely won’t have produced your best work.

The core benefits of being organised and operating in a generally clutter-free environment are increased productivity and improved performance. And with those come a greater sense of control, which is a vital part of stress management, resilience, and overall well-being.

Good organisation can also lead to better thinking. Decision-making and problem-solving rely on a clear head, plus ready access to the correct information and tools. An uncluttered approach improves concentration and your ability to learn and puts you on the right track toward the state of deep focus known as “flow.”

Success at work also has a lot to do with how others see you. If you’re regularly late for meetings, careless with your responsibilities, and seem out of control in your role, your reputation and career progression are at risk.

However, if you show yourself to be someone who manages their workload well and can be relied on to help make your organisation or team run more smoothly, your competence and value will be evident to everyone.

An uncluttered approach to your work won’t just save you time; it will also help you use your time more effectively. Good organisational habits are crucial for successful time management.

With easy access to everything you need, you’ll be confident about how much time each task should take. You’ll also have a clear idea of when to do it – to fit in with the rest of your work and suit other people.

HABITS OF ORGANISED PEOPLE
The more you can live and work in an organised way – even if it doesn’t come naturally at first – the sooner you’ll change your habits for the better. Here are five everyday strategies worth trying:

Celebrate small wins. For example, if you complete three things on your To-Do List, treat yourself to a cup of coffee, or allow 10 minutes of free time to check some of your favourite websites.

Use one calendar. If you record some things on your desk planner and others on your email calendar, it will be hard to coordinate everything. Instead, start putting it all in one place. If you do it digitally, you’ll find that the technology can pull everything together for you.

Schedule small tasks. If a task or project requires action beforehand (like picking up bagels and coffee for the staff meeting), make sure to schedule those into your day, too. Missing small jobs can have significant knock-on effects on everything else.

Get organised at home. Don’t just restrict your organised approach to work – because a chaotic home life will bring its problems—Declutter where you live to make mornings easier. Plan your whole day carefully. And talk to the people you live with so that they know how they can help.

Put a high value on your time. Whether you’re prioritising your professional tasks for the week or mapping out your family commitments, think about how to make every second count. In the words of the American inventor Thomas Edison, time is “… the only capital any human being has and the one thing he can’t afford to waste.”

PRIORITISATION
You can achieve more when you start dedicating time to the right things. Managing your time effectively requires distinguishing between what is essential and what is urgent.

SCHEDULING
You may know what you need to do – but when should you do it? Timing is everything. Scheduling is more than just recording what must be done (e.g., meetings and appointments). Be sure to build in time for the things you want to do. Effective scheduling requires you to know yourself. Your time log should help you identify when you are most productive and alert. Plan your most challenging tasks for when you have the most energy. Block out time for your high-priority activities first and protect that time from interruptions.

Schedule small tasks such as drafting an email, creating a grocery shopping list, reading, watching webinars, listening to podcasts for long commutes, or waiting for a call or appointment. Capitalise on what would otherwise be time lost. Avoid non-productive activities, such as playing games or scrolling through social media. Limit scheduled time to about three-fourths of your day to allow for creative activities such as planning, dreaming, and thinking.

GOAL SETTING
The most successful “time managers” have clear targets to aim for. They develop SMART goals, allowing them to allocate their time effectively.

CONCENTRATION AND FOCUS
It’s no good just making the time to pursue your priorities. You have to use that time well, too. Concentration, focus and time management go hand in hand to achieve maximum results.

USE A PLANNING TOOL
Use a personal planning tool to improve your productivity. Personal planning tools include calendars, phone apps, wall charts, index cards, pocket diaries, and notebooks. Writing down your tasks, schedules, and items to remember can free your mind to focus on your priorities. Auditory learners may prefer to dictate their thoughts instead. The key is to find one planning tool that works for you and use that tool consistently.

Use a personal planning tool to improve your productivity. Personal planning tools include calendars, phone apps, wall charts, index cards, pocket diaries, and notebooks. Writing down your tasks, schedules, and items to remember can free your mind to focus on your priorities. Auditory learners may prefer to dictate their thoughts instead. The key is to find one planning tool that works for you and use that tool consistently.

When using a planning tool:

  • Always record your information on the tool itself. Jotting notes elsewhere that must be transferred later is inefficient and wastes more time.
  • Review your planning tool daily.
  • Keep a list of your priorities in your planning tool and refer to it often.
  • Keep planning tools synchronised. If you keep more than one, make sure your phone, computer, and paper planning tools match.
  • Keep a backup system.

Apps on your phone can be great planning tools. Apps typically fall into one of the following categories:

  • Time Trackers – Gain an awareness of how you spend your time.
  • Time Savers – Increase productivity and break time-wasting habits.
  • Task Managers – Prioritise and organise tasks to improve time management.
  • Habit Developers – Create healthy habits to encourage time management.

DELEGATE: GET HELP FROM OTHERS
Delegating means assigning responsibility for a task to someone else, freeing up your time for tasks that require your expertise. Identify tasks others can do and select the appropriate person(s) to do them. Select someone with the relevant skills, experience, interest, and authority needed to accomplish the task. Be specific. Define the task and your expectations while allowing the person some freedom to personalise the task. Check how well the person is progressing periodically and provide assistance, being careful not to take over the responsibility. Finally, reward the person for a job well done or make suggestions for improvements if needed. Another way to get help is to “buy” time by obtaining goods or services that save time. For example, paying someone to mow your lawn, clean your house, or join a lift club for your children’s extracurricular activities frees time for other activities. The time savings from hiring someone for specialised projects is often worth the cost.

AVOID MULTI-TASKING
Psychological studies have shown that multi-tasking does not save time. The opposite is often true. You lose time when switching from one task to another, resulting in a loss of productivity. Routine multi-tasking may lead to difficulty in concentrating and maintaining focus. Do your best to focus on one task at a time by keeping your area clear of distractions, including turning off notifications on your devices, and set aside dedicated time for specific tasks.

STAY HEALTHY
The care and attention you give yourself is an essential investment of time. Scheduling time to relax or do nothing helps you rejuvenate physically and mentally, enabling you to accomplish tasks more quickly and easily. Be sure to monitor your screen time as a part of your digital well-being, setting boundaries to stay healthy. A study by Google showed that four out of five participants who took steps to improve their digital well-being believed their overall well-being was positively impacted (Google, 2019). To improve your digital well-being, set time limits or utilise built-in software on electronic devices such as phones and tablets to help maintain your digital wellness. Blue light blockers and grayscale mode may also help you improve your digital well-being. Set a time each night to shut off all digital devices to give your mind time to relax; this can also help improve your sleep schedule.

Unfortunately, poor time management and too much screen time can result in fatigue, moodiness, and more frequent illness. To reduce stress, reward yourself for time management successes. Take time to recognise that you have accomplished a significant task or challenge before moving on to the next activity.

Whatever time management strategies you use, evaluate how they have worked for you. Do you have a healthy balance between work and home life? Are you accomplishing the tasks that are most important in your life? Are you investing enough time in your well-being? If the answer is “no” to any of these questions, then reevaluate your time management strategies and transition to ones that will work better for you. Successful time management leads to greater personal happiness, more accomplishments at home and work, and a more satisfying future.

IN A NUTSHELL
Time management is an essential skill that helps you keep your work under control while enabling you to keep stress to a minimum.
We would all love to have an extra couple of hours every day. Seeing that is impossible, we need to work smarter on things with the highest priority and create a schedule that reflects our work and personal priorities.
With this in place, we can work in a focused and effective way and start achieving those goals, dreams and ambitions we care so much about.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

mindtools.com

extension.uga.edu

 

 

 

 

 

 

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