Time management is an important aspect of anyone’s life, even for students, professionals or business owners. Managing one’s time properly can increase productivity in work, save on company expenses, and find balance from work/school and other things in life. Hundreds of books, workshops, planners, to-do-list programs and classes are developed to train people about proper time management, yet people still feel the stress of deadlines, cramming for studies, and other shortcomings that may occur due to lack of time.
The secret of time management boils down to realizing 5 important points:
1. Time is limited – You may be the best in your class, or a CEO for a big-time company, but you can never buy more time. You have to understand that time lost can never be made up, even if you work twice as hard the next day. You have to realize that time cannot be stretched; it only needs “managing” for you to find enough time to do all tasks you need done. The more you look for time, the more time is lost. The best thing to do to “make” time is to decide taking time from one activity and giving it to another. Setting priorities is your only option to make time work for you.
2. Time Scheduling is Your Answer – Everyone is given 24 hours a day, subtract 14 hours for sleep, eating, preparing for school/work and travel, then you’re left with 10 hours or less to set a schedule for work/school and other activities. Depending on what works for you, notepads, calendars, journals, MS Office programs, to do lists, and other planning materials or programs. To schedule time effectively, you must put important tasks at the top of your list and other tasks that can be delegated on the very bottom.
3. Determine when Time is not the Problem – Many people complain of lack of time to do things they need done, but sometimes, time is not the problem. People often make excuses for not doing other tasks due to other priorities. For instance, spending more time for work or school can be an excuse for not being able to exercise. Your goal is to determine when these instances occur, acknowledge it and choose priorities wisely.
4. Take Everything One Step at a Time – The single factor that makes success a possibility is setting goals and meeting them. When creating a list of goals, include a doable timeline. Success in school or work doesn’t come overnight, so it is important to realize that time management has a huge part in everything you do. Doing small tasks that require a few minutes to complete take up space in your 24-hour schedule, so make sure to make every minute count.
5. Quality Work Requires More Time – Whether you’re a student or an employee, competence of work requires more time. When balancing tasks, you have to schedule your work so you could accomplish more within a shorter amount of time. As you get used to scheduling priorities, your work or school grades will improve and you’ll be able to consistently provide efficient results.
Time management shouldn’t be a pain. You just have to make a few changes and make these time management techniques a part of your day-to-day routine:
Know Your “Thinking Time” – Some people work well in the mornings, while others excel at night. It is important to acknowledge the time of the day when you study/work more comfortably and look for a job that offers graveyard shifts. If you’re still a student, study at night or in the morning. Save the hardest tasks for your “thinking time.”
Use time Wisely – If you take the train to school or work, you can take advantage of free time to complete your work or studies. Extra time also comes at lunchtime and other breaks, so make sure to use it wisely. This helps in reducing time spent for work or studies, giving you more time for other activities.
Use to-do Lists – It’s never too late to start using to-do lists. These lists may seem useless, but it helps you remember tasks that you might forget otherwise. Instead of cramming to do a task when you suddenly remember the deadline is fast approaching, it is best to keep your tasks organized in a small to-do list. Be aware that it is important to have some leeway when planning your tasks; life interruptions may occur and it is best to be flexible should any unavoidable incidents happen that could affect your schedules.
Work Smartly – One of the most important things in time management is to develop a plan where you work within a short period, but complete more tasks. To do this, determine if you’re more comfortable in working with harder tasks than easier ones, or the other way around. Break down larger tasks into small, easy tasks to avoid getting overwhelmed with a single, hard task. Make a schedule for the tasks, set deadlines and follow it religiously.
Remove Workload – Sometimes, people take on too much work with their available time. You have to accept that you can’t do everything all at once. Review the tasks you regularly work on and determine which tasks can be removed on your to-do list. Remember that you may feel each task you include is a priority, but with proper reflection and assessment, you can decide which tasks can go. Do what matters most first, then move on to the next task on your list.
Complete a Long Overdue Task – If you’ve been putting off a particular task on your list, make sure to have it done once you have extra time. This will help in shortening your to-do list and free up time and mental space to focus on other tasks. Reward yourself a few minutes to enjoy the feeling of getting things done.
Anyone who has been suffering from stress due to plenty of workload, or complain that they don’t have enough time to enjoy life must acknowledge that they have poor time management. One of the most common and serious effects of poor time management is chronic stress, which can also cause skin problems, cardiovascular disease, muscle pain, and health conditions related to the reproductive organ, stomach, lungs and the immune system. Over time, these conditions add up and may lead to heart attacks, diabetes, obesity, chronic fatigue and other serious health problems.
Statistics show that about 90% of all doctors’ visits are related to stress. If you can acknowledge the five points listed above and perform some time management techniques that work for you, you can reduce stress dramatically. Aside from having peace of mind that the day’s work is complete, effective time management allows you to have more energy and free time for hobbies, exercise, vacations and time with family and friends. Once you’ve implemented a time management plan, it would give you a feeling of being control over your life and a sense of satisfaction and achievement.