Manage Yourself, Not Your Time
Some of us claim our days are never wasted. “I’m very organized,” we say, “I know where I am going and what I’m going to do.” If you truly feel that way then you are in the minority. Most people become frustrated with a day that is unproductive. We would all like to get more done in a day.
The idea of time management has been in existence for more than 100 years. Unfortunately, the term “time management” creates a false impression of what a person is able to do. Time can’t be managed because time is uncontrollable. We can only manage ourselves and the use of our time.
Time management is actually self-management. It’s interesting that the skills we need to manage others are the same skills we need to manage ourselves: the ability to plan, delegate, organize, direct and control.
There are common time wasters, which need to be identified!
In order for a time management process to work it is important to know what aspects of our personal management need to be improved. Below you will find some of the most frequent reasons for reducing effectiveness in the workplace. Tick the ones, which are causing to be the major obstacles to your own time management. These are referred to as your “Time Stealers”.
Identifying your time stealers:
- Interruptions – telephone
- Interruptions – personal visitors
- Tasks you should have delegated
- Procrastination and indecision
- Acting with incomplete information
- Dealing with team members
- Crisis management
- Unclear communication
- Inadequate technical knowledge
- Unclear objectives and priorities
- Lack of planning
- Stress and fatigue
- Inability to say “No”
- Desk management and personal disorganization
Fortunately there are strategies you can use to manage your time. These will allow you to be more in control and reduce stress. You can analyze your time and see how you may be both the cause and the solution to your time challenges.
Below we examine time management issues in more detail:
1. Shifting priorities and crisis management. Management guru Peter Drucker says that “crisis management is actually the form of management preferred by most managers” The irony is that actions taken prior to the crisis could have prevented the crisis in the first place.
2. The telephone. Have you ever had one of those days when you thought your true calling was in Telemarketing? The telephone-our greatest communication tool can be our biggest enemy to effectiveness if you don’t know how to control its hold over you.
3. Lack of priorities/objectives. This is probably the biggest/ most important time waster. It affects all we do both professionally and personally. Those who accomplish the most in a day know exactly what they want to accomplish. Unfortunately too many of us think that goals and objectives are yearly things and not daily considerations. This results in too much time spent on minor things and not on the things that are important to our lives.
4. Attempting too much. Many people today feel that they have to accomplish everything from previous days and don’t give themselves enough time to do things properly. This leads only to half finished projects and no feeling of achievement.
5. Drop in visitors. The five deadliest words that rob your time are “Have you got a minute”. Everyone’s the culprit- colleagues, bosses, and your peers. Knowing how to deal with interruptions is one of the best skills you can learn.
6. Ineffective delegation. Good delegation is considered a key skill in both managers and leaders. The best leaders have an ability to delegate work to team members and ensure it is done correctly. This is probably the best way to build a team’s moral and reducing individual workloads at the same time. The general rule is this; if one of your team members can do the job 80% better, then delegate it.
7. The cluttered desk. When you have finished reading this article look at your desk. If you can see less than 80% of it then you are probably suffering from ‘desk stress’. The most effective people work from clear desks.
8. Procrastination. The biggest thief of time- not decision making, but decision avoidance. By reducing the amount of procrastinating you do, you can substantially increase the amount of active time available to you!
9. The inability to say “no!” The general rule is if people can dump their work or problems on to your shoulders, they will do it. Some of the most stressed people around lack the skill to ‘just say no’ for fear of upsetting people.
10. Meetings. Studies have shown that the average manager spends about 17 hours a week in meetings and about 6 hours in the planning time and untold hours in the follow up. I recently spoke to an executive who has had in the last 3 months 250 meetings It is widely acknowledged that about as much of a third of the time spent in meetings is wasted due to poor meeting management and lack of planning.
If you remember your goal is to increase your self-management, these are the best ways to achieve this.
There are many ways we can manage our time. We have listed some strategies you can use to manage your time.
- Always define your objectives as clearly as possible.
Do you find you are not doing what you want because your goals have not been set? One of the factors, which mark out successful people, is their ability to work out what they want to achieve and have written goals, which they can review constantly. Your long term goals should impact your daily activities and be included on your “to do” list. Without a goal or objective people tend to drift personally and professionally
2. Analyze your use of time.
Are you spending enough time on the projects that may not be urgent now, but are the things you need to do to develop yourself or your career? If you are constantly asking yourself “What is the most important use of my time, right now?” it will help you to focus on ‘important tasks’ and stop reacting to tasks which seem urgent (or pleasant to do) but carry no importance towards your goals
3. Have a plan.
How can you achieve your goals without a plan? Most people know what they want but have no plan to achieve it except by sheer hard work. Your yearly plan should be reviewed daily and reset as your achievements are met. Successful people make lists constantly. It enables them to stay on top of priorities and enables them to remain flexible to changing priorities. This should be done for both personal and business goals
4. Action plans analysis.
Problems will always occur, the value of a good plan is to identify them early and seek out solutions. Good time management enables you to measure the progress towards your goals because “What you can measure, you can control”. Always try to be proactive.
Time management (or self management) is not a hard subject to understand, but unless you are committed to build time management techniques into your daily routine you’ll only achieve partial (or no) results. This results in comments like “I tried time management once and it doesn’t work for me”. The lesson to learn is that the more time we spend planning our time and activities, the more time we will have for those activities. By setting goals and eliminating time wasters and doing this everyday you may find you will have extra time in the week to spend on those people and activities most important to you.
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