With the longer daylight hours, our ability to want to do more and feel we can do more flourishes. We wake up energized as we head to work in daylight and we even return home and it’s still daylight. The entire evening available to spend with friends, get caught up on household projects or take part in a favorite hobby.
However, to many people the best of intentions get cast aside by the obligations of the day that simply meld into the evening and suddenly you find yourself at the end of a week feeling like you haven’t accomplished enough and taking work home for the weekend. Far too often, this is the outcome for many. Whether you’re a seasoned professional or a new manager or even a young adult starting out in their first career position.
Time Management is just that – the ability to manage time. It requires effort to be good at it and in most cases must be learned. How good are your time management skills? Now, ask yourself again, how good are your time management skills really?
There are 5 Myths about Time Management:
1. “There’s too much to do; I can’t handle it all.”
This is an easy out. Rather than looking at all the tasks at hand and ensuing deadlines and planning how you’ll accomplish them all, you simply give up.
2. “There’s plenty of time; I can do that later.”
Later is such a general term, that it never arrives, and hence, it makes it very easy to put tasks off. Consider how many hours you really have, and consider completing the task sooner than later – today, this afternoon, or even right now is a better time to get something done.
3. “I’m busier than usual right now, so it makes sense to shift some tasks off to another time.”
Are you really busier today? Assess what you have on your plate and ask yourself, if you are simply procrastinating. Are the items you want to push off simply tasks you don’t enjoy doing? If you don’t actually schedule the items you are planning to put off, they won’t be completed.
4. “Rescheduling something to a later time is procrastinating.”
Focusing on your immediate deadlines of higher priority items is smart and rescheduling secondary items to another time, is very good time management, as long as you are committed to completing the work.
5. “This little task is not important.”
Making the assumption that little tasks are of lesser importance will only catch up to you. Important tasks come in all sizes and if they impact the progress of other outcomes and other people’s deliverables then they are very important. Ensure you are aware of deadlines so that you are not then left scrambling to complete a task that has larger ramifications.
Acquiring effective Time Management skills, once learned, offer great benefits. It reduces stress as you have a plan of how you get everything done, you actually gain time that you can use personally to give you work-life balance, reduces the amount of tasks you avoid, and promotes re- looking at what you are doing and removing items of no importance. As well, it improves how you spend your day, it keeps you motivated as you keep accomplishing more and it avoids procrastination.
So where can you start gaining these time management skills? Start with some basic time management tools:
- • Recognize you’re Procrastinating, figure out why you are procrastinating, and then get over it AND do it!
- • Prepare a Time Management Matrix – where items are labelled as Important and Urgent - manage these (projects with deadlines, appointments, meetings with purpose, etc.) Important but not Urgent– ensure these are in your focus; avoid spending time on items that are not important or time wasters.
- • Keep an Activity Log – How are you currently spending your time? Are you spending most of your day on items that keep you busy, but are not important?
- • Create an Action Plan – What are you going to do differently? – Commit to it for 10 days!
- • Use a To-Do List – Doing the Right Tasks First!
- • Identify the time you have available, block in the Essential tasks you MUST do to be successful in your job and the vital “housekeeping activities”
- • Block in appropriate contingency time to handle unpredictable interruptions
- • Use the remaining time to address activities that meet our priorities and personal goals.
When looking at better managing your day, it can be overwhelming. Start by choosing one thing that you can cut out or minimize in your day, start logging your time – to see where you are wasting your day, an finally, create a schedule – and then at the end of the day, assess your success at keeping it. Ensure you schedule in fun, hobbies, and items you enjoy. By doing this, you have now provided yourself with rewards along the way that will balance out those items that are involved and tough.