As a Coach, and after coaching many different clients, I have come to realise that to effectively manage time, we need to first realise that time itself cannot be managed! We all get seven days a week and 168 hours within those seven days. This cannot be increased or changed in any way. However, what we can change, improve and manage is ourselves. In essence then, true time management now becomes management of ourselves – “self management!”
So being aware of this, we now know that it's not the amount of time we have that's important; it’s how effectively we use that time that makes the difference. Successful people have exactly the same amount of time in the day as each of us. The only difference is they use their time differently – more effectively.
You might say “I don’t have the time to commit to learning some time management skills”. I hear this a lot during coaching sessions, but the fact is if this were true, do you really think you have the time not to? Time management principles and techniques are usually quite simple to learn. They do not require deep thinking or lots of preparation. In fact if you were to put the search term “Time Management Resources” into a search engine you will get dozens of websites offering help, advice, tips and suggestions on how to manage and prioritize your time.
To sum time management up I would say you need to ask yourself two questions:
1. Do I physically have enough time to do the tasks that are required of me? We only have so much time. Sometimes it’s not always physically possible to fit everything in. If this is the case then you need to prioritize and drop some of the low priority task/activities to claim some time back.
2. Do I fully optimize and use my time effectively? If the answer is NO then you might want to learn and implement some time management principles and techniques.
Below is a list of some time management (self management) techniques and tips that you may find useful. They are in no particular order.
• Figure out when (what time of the day?) you work most efficiently.
• Establish your priorities for what you want to get done. Identify the tasks and activities that are the highest priority and eliminate those of low priority.
• Allow more time than you think you will need. This makes your schedule flexible and allows for the unexpected.
• Get into the habit of using your odd five minutes here and there more productively. Don’t just dismiss it as only five minutes – they add up throughout the week!
• Accomplish one or two important tasks rather than lots of unimportant ones.
• Keep a calendar/diary. Mark all your important dates/tasks.
• Keep a list of "Things to Do" and mark them off as completed.
• Every day make a list of what you have to do tomorrow.
• When possible do the unpleasant tasks first.
• Tidiness makes your life easier and reduces stress.
• Allow time to relax, recharge and do nothing.
• Leave time in your schedule for un-planned activities.
• Know your strengths, skills and weakness. Things will get done easier if you are working through your strengths.
• Ask yourself, "What am I doing that someone else could do for me?" Delegate!
• Don’t be scared to ask for help
• Bin things straight away to reduce the clutter (junk mail, newspapers and spam email etc).
• Divide large overwhelming tasks into smaller chunks, and attack them one at a time.
• Complete at least one task each day that you don't like to do, but know you should.
• Realize that all your email checking, surfing the internet and other procrastinations add up to hours of lost time each week (sometime even each day!). Limit your media exposure.
• Watch less T.V. If you watch 3 hours a day, start by cutting it down by just one hour a day, so then only watch two hours of T.V, you will have gained an additional 7 hours a week. Cutting it down by 2 hours a day, you then have an additional 14 hours a week etc. Give it a try.