Time management may seem like one of the toughest nuts to crack, because people never get around to tackling it. More than half of the people we interact with, will complain about how they can never seem to get things done; be it a CEO, his assistant, a homemaker or a student. On a daily basis, people have to tackle a number of things on their to-do list, which they never get around to doing, because of numerous distractions. Like you have to answer your phone, take care of that one email, answer that text message, not to mention other distractions like plain old boredom, fatigue, forgetfulness etc.
Here we’ll give you tips and pointers to make the best use of your time. Follow the series and learn to manage your time in the most effective way. First things first –
Track your time to make sense of it.
At the end of the day, when you go over your tasks, do you feel a sense of happiness? A sense of accomplishment? Do you feel that you’ve done all that you wanted to do and fit in a few more things too? Or are you exhausted and tired but still you haven’t managed to finish off even half the things you had planned to do?
The number of hours in a day isn’t going to change. EVER. Wrap that around your head. All you need to do is make use of your time better. You might be a businessperson who has to run around, do market surveys and manage your own office. Or you might be a student who has to fit in essay deadlines and juggle various exams. Whichever end of the spectrum you are, you need to balance your activities and fit in more in one day. Like Charles Bruxton said – You will never ‘find’ time for anything. If you want time you must make it.
Each person will have a different sense of accomplishment for oneself. Like for some, maybe a homemaker and mother – fitting in as many activities like house cleaning, cooking, taking your kids to school, setting out their lessons, planning activities for kids, etc. might be a good day. If she manages to do all this, she’ll feel like she’s had a productive day. But maybe for someone who’s an author – getting two chapters written means he/she has had a productive day. Likewise, analyze what you feel is a good productive day for you.
When you have examined in detail your activities which you need to accomplish, start off by analyzing why you don’t get around to completing them. Remember this isn’t a one day task. It’s an on-going process. Things will vary according to the different stages of your career, life, and times. Once you have analyzed the major tasks that you wish to finish, break them into chunks to smaller doable parts. For example: if one of the tasks is Clean House – break it down into Dust house, vacuum floors, polish furniture (or some other such doable jobs).
When you have your tasks in hand, prioritize them. For the next whole week, time yourself on every activity that you undertake. Have you ever tried maintaining a diet diary? A few years back, it was a big fad – wherein dieticians would tell you to maintain a daily diary of what you ate, when you ate it, and how much you ate. Similarly maintain a diary – write down which task takes how much time, whether there were any interruptions during that task – like maybe a phone call or a text during that time. Pen down the interruption too and how much time you spent on it this will help you dissect your daily routine perfectly.
This activity is known s Time tracking. Time tracking will help you know your peak productivity time, your distractions times, what are your biggest distractions, how much time you spend on each activity and so on. Once you do this for a whole week, you’ll probably see that on Mondays – mostly the busiest day of the week, you spend a lot of time tackling phone calls and answering queries between 10 am and 1130 am. So you know that, during that chunk of time, you shouldn’t schedule a major task or some work that needs a lot of concentration. Similarly analyze patterns for every day of the week.
Figure out which are your times when there are maximum disturbances, when there are no disturbances but low productivity, and when there are times with hardly any disturbances & high productivity. At times when you have maximum disturbances, schedule things which are important, but small and don’t need too much attention. Like answering phone calls, or looking over employee reports, or sorting laundry. (Yeah examples to fit a spectrum. Take what applies to you.)
Now that you know where exactly you’re going wrong or going right for that matter, focus all your efforts on those areas. By tracking your time, you can find out the type of changes you need to make to manage your time better.