If you’ve been entrusted to manage a valuable commodity—whether it’s the company’s finances, the merchandise in your shop, or your own income—you start by taking stock of what you have to work with. Where and how are the resources being generated, spent, saved, and squandered? Is it possible to appropriate them more effectively? Where are the silent leaks? It doesn’t have to be any different with time, our most valuable commodity. Time management is one of the most important activities when it comes to work.
Whatever value we place on money, investments, or merchandise, it is that resource of hours and minutes that’s most elusive.
Time Management Tips & Tricks
Like money, you want to know how to make sufficient time to accommodate the world-changing things you want to do with your life. Do you complain you don’t have enough time or are you easy prey to any gadget that promises to make you a multitasking magician? Altering your life to accommodate your goals and ambitions isn’t easy, but the time-generating solution may be simpler than you think.
1. Face the Data
As eager as you are to dive into time management, it’s vital to take assess the situation as it now stands—the problem, if you will. Successful businesses are meticulous in taking stock of their resources. They know exactly how many pennies they have and where they’re spending them. You need to do the same with your minutes.
2. Remember: It All Adds Up
Minutes and pennies seem like such tiny quantities—throw-aways, really. But if you’ve ever seen the movie Office Space, you’ll remember that even fractions of a cent can result in millions of dollars if you can gather up enough of them. Minutes are your commodity—start counting.
Set yourself up for a one week mini-project. Get a small notebook that will easily fit into purse or pocket and then trade out your fancy wristwatch for a good old-fashioned Timex with a stopwatch. Now start timing yourself. Be natural as you go through the week, not making big sweeping changes so you look better on the paper.
Log each activity (in exact minutes) as you proceed through your day. For example:
- Showering and dressing for work: 45 minutes
- Looking for keys and files for morning presentation: 8 minutes
- Trip to Starbucks: 17 minutes
- Morning commute: 25 minutes
- Checking and answering email: 19 minutes
Continue making notes in your log. A tad tedious perhaps, but the information is invaluable. You’ll gain some surprising insight into how much time you have and where you’re spending it. Don’t forget to log eating, TV watching, and sleeping. Track it—all of it.
4. Be Specific
Don’t guess—we always estimate in our favor and we’re usually off by quite a wide margin. Remember, your mission is not to see how fast you plow through your activities of daily living. This isn’t a race. It is an opportunity for you to start to conceptualize the amount of time you have, and how you are choosing to use it.
5. Analyze the Data
Add up the minutes spent in each category and assess. You may be surprised to find out that in a typical day you spend two hours actually working, forty-five minutes taking a shower, and ninety accumulated minutes doing internet “research.” Highlight trouble areas.
6. Don’t Squander Resources
When people complain about not having enough time, the issue (usually) is not that they are so busy, but that they use their time so badly. Take the data from a typical week and multiply it by fifty-two to get an annual estimate. Think about the minutes you’re spending on non-essentials—what could you accomplish with that time over the course of a year?
For example, do you keep telling your mom you don’t have time to meet for lunch? Think about it: a standard lunch date, even with transportation included, is of one-and-a-half hours at max. About the same as the three worthless reality-TV shows you watched last week because there was “nothing better on,” or six nights of fifteen extra Facebook minutes before bed.
7. Make the Right Choices
Undoubtedly you are starting to realize that the issue is not time-poverty, but misplaced priorities. If you don’t have time for an activity or endeavor, it’s because you’ve chosen to spend that time elsewhere. The trick is not to try to multi-task more tasks or even work faster, but to clarify your priorities and make better choices.
8. Tighten Your Belt
We hate boundaries, but savvy time-spenders know that there’s freedom in the fences. That means putting some limits on the major minute munchers.
Tips for Minimizing Minute Loss
- Confine your use of social media to 2-3 times per day. Set a limit on those sessions.
- Disable Facebook and Twitter updates on your phone.
- Set up an email schedule. Log in for 2-3 sessions per day. The world can wait, trust me.
- Assess your TV watching schedule and weigh it in light of other leisure activities—pick one or two programs you can’t live without and spend the saved time on coffee with friends or those trips to the gym you can never squeeze it.
- Save video games for a special reward, say after you’ve finished the presentation or cleaning the bathroom.
For some, it will be as though they’ve just been asked to amputate their own limb. But here’s the reality: time is a limited commodity and you make the choices. In three years do you want to boast great strides towards your life goals, or be able to say you saw every Lady Gaga tweet the moment it was released?
Raise the bar on yourself and on your level of discipline—no one can do this for you. Visualizing clear goals will help you to stay on track when you have that overwhelming urge to tweet your latest brainwave. Trust me, the world can probably live without it—stay on task.
How you choose to appropriate your most precious resource is a decision you make—no one is a victim to some nebulous, time-stealing monster. We all have the same 1,440 minutes to work with each day. How do you choose to get a better return on yours?
Tell us how do you practice time management. Got tips?
Photo by epSos.de.
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