Time management is not necessarily working "harder", but rather, "smarter." And to accomplish significantly more in our days, we need not increase our efforts. As an example, in a horse race, the first horse may earn a $50,000 purse and the second horse may earn a $25,000 purse. The first horse gets twice as much money as the second horse, not because it ran twice as far or twice as fast. It was only a "nose ahead" of the competition.
So it is with our daily results. We need not run twice as fast or put in twice the effort to significantly increase our daily success. We only need to be a "nose ahead" of where we already are. We are all productive in our days. We would not survive the demands of this world if we were not. The real challenge is how much more productive can we become?
And, a lot of our time management has to do with more of what we are not doing rather than what we are doing. Sometimes our mistakes and omissions will keep us from running at a full pace. Here are the Top Five Time Management Mistakes we should all avoid to help us to increase our daily success both on and off the job, in less time and with less stress.
1. Start your day without a plan of action. You will begin your day by responding to the loudest voice (the squeaky wheel gets the grease) and spend it in a defensive mode, responding to other people's and events' demands. The tail will wag the dog. If there is a void of leadership in your time management life, someone will fill that void, not that others are bad people, but others will take all of your time if you let them. You will have worked hard but may not have done enough of right things. Time Management is not doing the wrong things quicker. That just gets us nowhere faster. Time Management is doing the right things.
2. Get out of balance in your life. Our lives are made up of Seven Vital Areas: Health, Family, Financial, Intellectual, Social, Professional, and Spiritual. We will not necessarily spend time every day in each area or equal amounts of time in each area. But if in the long run, we spend a sufficient quantity and quality of time in each area, our lives will be in balance. But if we neglect any one area, never mind two or three, we will eventually sabotage our success. Much like a table, if one leg is longer than the rest, it will make the entire table wobbly. If we don't take time for health, our family life and social life are hurt. If our financial area is out of balance, we will not be able to focus adequately on our professional goals, etc.
3. Work with a messy desk or work area. Studies have shown that the person who works with a messy desk spends, on average, one and a half hours per day looking for things or being distracted by things. That's seven and a half hours per week. ("Out of sight-out of mind." And the reverse of that is true too, "In sight, in mind"). And, it's not a solid block of an hour and a half, but a minute here and a minute there, and like a leaky hot water faucet, drip, drip, drip, it doesn't seem like a major loss, but at the end the day, we're dumping gallons of hot water down the drain that we are paying to heat. If you have ever visited the office of a top manager, typically, that person is working with a clean desk environment. Many would attribute this practice to that person's access to other staff members. While there may be some truth in that conclusion, in most cases, if we went back some years in that person's career, they probably were working with a clean desk back then which gave them the focus they needed to become promoted to where they are today.
4. Don't get enough sleep. Studies show that nearly 75% of us complain on a regular basis, all throughout our days, that we are flat-out tired. For most people, they get the quantity of sleep, but they lack the quality of sleep. Their days are filled with so much stress, they are out of control, working harder but maybe not smarter, that it's difficult to get a full night's sleep. (For some, they simply do not allow for a sufficient quantity of sleep.) If you will plan your day, then work your plan, you will get more done, feel a higher sense of accomplishment, and experience less stress and enjoy a more restful night's sleep.
5. Don't take a lunch break.Many do not take a lunch break, working through that time period in the hopes that it will give them more time to produce results. Studies have shown it may work just the opposite. After doing what we do for several hours, we start to "dull out." Sure, we can work through lunch and be productive, but that is not the issue. The issue is "how much more" productive we can be. A lunch break, even a short fifteen minute break, gives us a chance to get our batteries all charged up again to more effectively handle the afternoon's challenges. We are then less likely to procrastinate a few of those difficult tasks that, in the long run, will make a positive difference in our personal productivity.
Stop Wasting Time
Life is often what happens to you along the way when you have planned otherwise because there are time wasters out there to throw you off the track. Your performance may not always match your intentions. To help you to increase your productivity each and every day, both on and off the job, here are five easy tips to overcome the major time wasters to help you to stop wasting time.
Plan your day. Set aside time each night for Daily Planning, a time for you to take control of your most important asset, the next twenty-four hours. Create a To Do list with all the things you "have to" do and, more importantly, all the things you "want to" do. Don't be afraid of putting down too much. A project tends to expand with the time available for it. If you give yourself one thing to do, it will take you all day. If you give yourself two things to do, you will get them both done. If you give yourself twelve things to do, you may not get all twelve done, but you'll get eight or nine done. Having a lot to do creates a healthy sense of pressure on us to get things done. Prioritize this list. Put the number "1" next to the most important item, "2" beside the next most important item, the number "3" beside the third most important item, etc. People ask me a lot, "Do you do Daily Planning every day?" I reply, "Only if I want to have a good day."
Control procrastination. The easiest way to avoid procrastination in your day is to do the Daily Planning each day. Without a plan of action to direct you, you are often drawn to the things that are easier or to the most urgent items that may not be the most important use of your time. You can easily get caught up in "stuff", wasting time majoring in the minor things, spending your day wheel spinning in the unimportant areas while the important things get put off.
Avoid interruptions. A problem that is well defined is mostly solved. To define your interruptions situation to permit you to take some preventive actions, run an Interruptions Log. On a pad of paper, log in interruptions as they occur over a few days. Put down who brings them to you, how long each interruption lasts, and whether or not they were valuable or of no value. Once you accumulate your data, get the most frequent interrupters who bring the interruptions with no value to change their actions and agree to not bring as many low value interruptions to you in the future.
Delegate it. If you had unlimited amounts of time, you could do everything yourself, but you don't. Each week has but 168 hours to get all you need and want to do. I review every item on my To Do list each night in Daily Planning and ask, "Is this the best use of my time?" If it is, I will plan to do it myself and if it's not, I will try to find a way to delegate it to free up my time for something more valuable. There is a lot of difference between, "I do it", and "It gets done". Sure, it's great to do a variety of things but you have to be sure that your scarce resource is always being spent in the most productive way.
Manage meetings. Before you commit to attend a meeting with another or with a group, ask yourself two questions. First, "Is it necessary?" Sometimes we go to a meeting solely because we have been invited or because we have always gone out of habit without ascertaining whether or not it truly is necessary. Second, ask yourself, "Am I necessary?" Perhaps the meeting is important but if you don' t contribute anything to it or if you don't get anything from it, try to find a way to excuse yourself from attending all or a portion of the meeting.
5 Tips to Maintain a Clutter Free Desk
Getting Organised Saves Time and Money
The average American executive wastes six weeks per year retrieving misplaced information due to messy desks and files, according to The Wall Street Journal. In this article professional organiser Debbie Gilster of Organize & Computerize provides advice on how to clean up your act.
A tidy desk is not the sign of someone with nothing to do, nor is a messy desk the mark of a busy manager. Most of us can think and be more productive when sitting at a tidy, well-organised desk. Here's how to manage your files, organise your desktop and reduce stress so that you can better handle administrative tasks, which will help you become more productive.
A tidy desk is different for everyone. Some people need a clean desktop, with such basic tools as pens, stapler and tape dispenser out of sight in a drawer. Others are comfortable with tidy piles of paper and knickknacks. Experiment to identify your style.
Getting organised takes time. Unless you are a professional organiser who loves putting things in order, do not make this an all-day activity. It will take longer than you think. Without a coach to keep you on track, you'll waste time reading papers and trying to make decisions. Keep the time allotted to two hour increments.
Defined processes and the right tools make tasks successful. Follow the five steps in this guide and make them part of your office routine. The result will be a clean & tidy desk. Use quality tools, such as wire baskets and file folders that you can label and reuse.
With the right attitude, getting organised is easy. It means an end to missed deadlines, lost information and loss of control.
Just Say No
By: Dr. Donald E. Wetmore
I used to put everyone else's requests and needs first and if there was any time left over at the end of the day for what I needed and wanted to do, that was acceptable. That is until I began to realize that if you and I are going to be effective time managers, we have to stay away from allocating our time solely on the basis of those who demand it. Instead, if you and I are going to be effective time managers, we have to allocate our time on the basis of those who deserve it.
I don't mean this in any negative or arrogant way. It's just you have limits to the amount of time you have to spend and so one of the most powerful words in your Time Management vocabulary is the word, "no". Almost everyone you encounter will think they have a better idea about how you should be spending your time. It doesn't make others bad. It's just the way the world works. If there is a void in your Time Management life, someone, or many for that matter, will jump in to fill that spot. The problem is that they do not have the full understanding of where you are taking your life and if you keep saying "yes", they will continue to take up your time, possibly keeping you from accomplishing what you really want to do.
"No" is sometimes difficult to say because you have been taught differently. You have been taught to say, "yes", to please, to serve, and to accommodate. There is nothing wrong with saying "yes" most of the time, but occasionally there is a line you choose not to cross, when saying "yes" is really not the best use of your time to get you to where you need and want to be.
If you had unlimited amounts of time, you could "yes" all the time to everyone. But you don't. You have 24 hours each day, 7 days a week for a total of 168 hours. And you get to spend that time only once, so you have to spend it wisely.
I have listed seventeen ways here to say "no". Don't let me put the words in your mouth. Take the ones you like, change them around and you use the words that are comfortable for you. The point is, if you are ever in a position when you can never say "no", then you are always saying "yes", and like the song says, "If you don't stand for something, you will fall for everything".
"I'm sorry. That's not a priority for me right now."
"I can't help you on this now, but I can get to it next week. Would that be okay?"
"I have so much on my plate now I don't know when I can get to it. But I do know someone over here who can help you now."
"Before I take this on for you, let me show you a few things so that you might be able to do it yourself."
"I have made so many commitments to others, it would be unfair to them and you if I took on anything more at this point."
"If I can't give you a ride to the school dance on Friday, how else would you get there safely?"
"I don't know how soon I can help you on this, but I will get back to you as soon as I am free to help you."
"I'm sure we're close enough that when I say "no" you'll understand it's for a good reason."
"Sure I can help you with your request as long as we both agree and understand that the item I agreed to do for you yesterday is going to have to wait."
"Before I take this over from you, what do you think we ought to do about it?"
"I've got good news and bad news. The good news is, I sure can do that for you. The bad news is, I'm so overloaded with everything else, I've become delirious and have been lying about my commitments."
"When I get overwhelmed like I am now, I remove every third person who asks me for something, from my "Good Friends List" and the second person just left."
"Thanks for thinking to ask me, but, no thanks."
"I would like to help you out on this but you understand I don't have the resources available to do the right job for you."
"Now that's the type of thing I would love to help you on if only I had the time."
"Just like you, I get overloaded sometimes and have to tell some very special people, "no". This is one of those times."
And as you speak, smile.
Successful Time Management
Many people complain about needing more time in a day. While you know it is impossible to turn minutes into hours, you can learn to manage the time you have more efficiently.
Maybe your work never seems to get any closer to being completed. The stress level you are experiencing is rising and every-day you become more frustrated.
Although you can't control time itself, you can take charge of what you do with the time you have. It's really not as difficult as you may think. It takes willingness and determination on your part to change your old ways of doing things.
Spend one or two days recording what you do throughout the day. You may be surprised to find out how much time is wasted through interruptions and looking for items.
Before you begin to make any drastic changes, be aware of how your extra time is spent.
Use A Daily Planner
Write down everything you need to accomplish during the day. This will enable you to set aside time for those projects that keep getting shoved aside for less important tasks.
It will also allow you to keep track of everything you need to do. It is easy to forget the little things and then kick yourself later when you remember. When you do check everything off your list, you will feel satisfied with your efforts.
It is impossible to keep working productively without ever taking a break. You can't concentrate nonstop for extremely long periods of time.
Every once in a while, stretch your legs or get a drink at the water fountain. You will come back refreshed and ready to work again. If you are frustrated, this will help you to clear your mind and get back your focus.
Find Your Productive Time
You probably have one time of the day when you feel most productive. Maybe it's when you first arrive at work or right after lunch. Schedule your hardest assignments for that time. If you are at your best, they will seem easier and you can get them done faster.
It's stressful to work in a messy environment. It can be difficult to find things because they are hidden under all the clutter.
Spend some time keeping your area neat. You will save a lot of energy that would otherwise be spent looking for that important chart or memo.
The participation of women in the paid labor force has increased steadily in recent years. While women take on additional responsibilities away from home, their household duties often remain the same. According to a research report by Walker and Woods in "Time use: A measure of household production of family goods and services," women in the labor force average 76 hours in total weekly work, which includes 33 hours dedicated to household tasks. The time requirements of household and paid work are complicated and often conflicting. The term "double day" has been used to describe the dual work responsibilities that many women have.
Although the amount of domestic work performed by men has increased, women still carry the primary burden of household chores. In The Gender Factory: The Apportionment of Work in American Households, author Sarah Berk indicated that husbands' contributions to domestic work are typically small, and the total time estimates of husbands' household work hours range from 10 to 15 hours a week.
Melody Hessing in "More than Clockwork: Women's Time Management in their Combined Workloads," Sociological Perspectives 37(4) examines how women organize their lives to accomplish their many tasks. Hessing notes that, "Women with both paid and household responsibilities must appear to be successful in accomplishing both, or they risk censure or criticism as mothers and/or as employees." She found that, in general, the women in her research do not describe themselves as passive captives of societal inequities, but instead recognize and purposely manage the demands and constraints in their lives.
Specifically, Hessing found that women use the following time management strategies: prioritization, accommodation of time use, routinization of activities, synchronization of events, and preparation for contingencies.
Paid employment takes priority in scheduling time. However, the women negotiate arrangements with employers to adapt their work hours when domestic necessities or sick children require their attention.
Routinization of activities helps keep families on schedule. Some families develop checklists for children to use as reminders of what they need to get done. For example, a morning chart might include: get up, wash face, brush teeth, comb hair, dress, eat breakfast, get school lunch money, get backpack, music instruments, library books, etc., kiss family good-bye, and catch the bus.
Women synchronize many chores, thereby accomplishing several tasks in a short time period. Synchronization includes doing two chores at one time, or arranging errands so that many can be completed simultaneously, thereby eliminating extra trips. Doing the laundry while fixing dinner is one example of synchronizing chores. Picking up dry cleaning and doing the grocery shopping while a child takes a music lesson is another.
Contingency arrangements are developed in advance to manage family emergencies and unusual circumstances, such as sick children, difficulties with babysitters, or special events (birthdays, overnight trips, etc.). Contingency arrangements replace or change regular schedules. The women typically negotiate a change of schedule with their employer or delegate the responsibility to their spouse, an extended family member, or to neighbors.
Researchers have identified a number of other strategies and aspects of coping with multiple demands. These include the use of remote-timing methods to assure that family members meet deadlines. For instance, as a mother leaves for work she might set the oven timer to ring so that her children will know when it is time to catch the bus.
Other mothers use the telephone and/or television to keep their children on schedule. Children know that it is time to leave for school when a particular television program is over. Many mothers have their children phone them at work to check in when they arrive home in the afternoon.
Often women are responsible for the smooth scheduling of other family members activities. Many use calendars to record each individual's activities. Notes are used as reminders of special events.
Weekends are spent catching up on household chores from the previous week and preparing for the coming week. Many women prepare large quantities of food on weekends, then freeze meals to be warmed up on busy days.
Many women select outside social activities very carefully. Some continue to volunteer time to organizations that are important to them. Although the amount of time that they are able to donate is often less than it was before they had paid employment.
Double day work provides many time management challenges for women. However, by using various strategies, women successfully meet the demands of their busy lives.
Hessing, M. (1994) More than clockwork: women's time management in their combined workloads. Sociological Perspectives 37(4), 611-633.
The Benefits of Scheduling
From Practicing College Study Skills by Carolyn H. Hopper
Scheduling helps you avoid procrastination because it gives you a set time to accomplish each task.
It helps keep you up to date and helps to avoid last minute cramming.
As strange as it may seem, when your study is scheduled, you may look forward to studying. The mind is very programmable, so when it gets used to doing something routinely as scheduled, you subconsciously want to do it.
Scheduling creates time to do things that you actually want to do.
It keeps you in control as you set your priorities and the times to do things.
It saves time, scheduling is a guide that tells you what to do next and assures that everything will get done as you become quicker and more efficient at studying.
How to Get Control of Your Time and Your Life