Almost every one of us faces the same problem – lack of time. But don’t we all have 24 hours in a day? So, how come some do not complain and some do? It all boils down to time management. Here are some tips which allow you to manage your time effectively and efficiently.
Set SMART Goals
You should be able to take stock of your current situation as to where things stand today with respect to your goals and aspirations. You should also be able to visualize where you want to be five or ten years from now. Hence you should set yourself SMART goals, that is, goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound. Without goals, you will be adrift regarding both your professional and personal life. If you set yourself such goals you will know what you need to do to achieve those goals. That will give you a clear sense of purpose and direction, which will motivate you to use your time wisely and judiciously.
Not all tasks are equally important or equally urgent. Some will be more important or more urgent or both in relation to others. You should try to prioritize the tasks in relation to their importance and urgency, if need be, by drawing up a 2×2 matrix, which allows you to classify tasks into four groups depending on whether they are important or urgent or both or neither. Important and urgent tasks need to be attended to first. The other way you could do this is by writing down a to-do list. That is, make a list of all the tasks you need to do on that day or in that week and rank them in order of priority, assigning letters or numerical codes to them based on their importance and urgency.
Once you have set yourself goals and prioritized the tasks that need to be done to accomplish them, it is time to put them into action. But what often happens is that we tend to postpone things by procrastinating, especially if the task seems to demand more of our effort and energy or the task looks unpleasant. This often stems from the mistaken assumption that you must finish the task in one go. That is not true. You can always complete most tasks in several sessions, including such simple things as writing an email. For instance, you may have to write an important email to a client and are postponing because you do not know how to go about it. If worse comes to worst, you can always get a start on the email by typing in his email ID, writing the subject, addressing the person, and saving it in the drafts folder for a better mood or inspiration to dawn on you. You will find that the next time you want to revisit that email, you will find less resistance on your part to compose and finish it. A similar strategy can be applied to other tasks by tackling them in bits and pieces.
“Do Not Bite More Than You Can Chew”
Do not get tempted to take on a whole host of responsibilities on your shoulder. You will not have the time and energy to do them all satisfactorily. So, learn to delegate tasks to colleagues or subordinates based on their competence and availability. Do not also micromanage by looking over the shoulders of all your subordinates. Allow them to do the task at their own discretion and pace. That way not only will they breathe easy but also you will have more time on your hands. You can always check their work at periodic intervals and at the end. The other thing you should learn to do is to say ‘no’ to whatever responsibility or task that you feel you will not have the time, energy, or competence to do. Do not be a pushover.
Schedule Tasks Effectively
All of us have different rhythms. Different people feel more energetic and productive during different times of the day – some in the morning, some in the afternoon, and some towards the evening. Study yourself to see when you are most energetic and productive and schedule important activities during that part of the day.
Do not work long hours at a stretch. If you do, your focus and attention will start to fall after some time and your work efficiency will be reduced. Hence, take short five-minute breaks every couple of hours to rejuvenate yourself. During the break, you could sit quietly, pace up and down, or do some stretching exercises in your chair.
Avoid Distractions and Multitasking
You can lose your focus and concentration on the task at hand if you are multitasking or having distractions. Try to insulate yourself from distractions when you are engaged in any important task. Contrary to the feeling of accomplishing more by multitasking, studies show that you take 20-40% more time to complete a task when multitasking than if you did the tasks one at a time.