Time is relentless, though it’s temporary. For the majority of people, time management task means doing more things faster. From the point of view of efficiency, it’s the right approach, although the quality aspect of the problem is much more important than the quantity aspect. Unproductive waste of time is especially intolerable for a leader striving for efficient activity. In many cases, it’s better to do nothing than take actions without proper planning. Often it’s more preferable to spend some time thinking over this or that question, rather than act thoughtlessly, risking to provoke chaos or an acute conflict.
Why time management is important?
The truth is no one is eternal. We shouldn’t be afraid of it but we need to treat our everyday activity as today is the last day, and this deed is the final deed of your life. Surely, you want to finish it with something significant. It’s possible only on account that you won’t leave a complete mess after yourself so people who come after you will take on without any difficulties.
Try to do your duties of a leader clear and precise to the limit. Don’t forget about your final goal, while concentrating on the immediate task. Then your deed will be continued even if today is your last. Such a mood will help you to do more, faster, without any harm to the quality of your work.
In order to use your time rationally, you should make a list of immediate and long-term tasks and to analyze how are they fulfilled on a daily basis. The list of immediate tasks will show you what have you already achieved and what you still need to do. A strategic plan will either prove the accuracy of the chosen way or show a necessity to correct it. Developing such plans and taking responsibilities before yourself will push you to the intended goal. If you don’t want to push yourself, you risk falling into lethargic condition.
How to use time better?
The transition from one kind of action to another is one of the most difficult aspects of time management problems. It may be extremely hard for people intensively engaged in some activity to switch to something different. The concentration of attention on such a transition moment is one of the ways to enhance the efficiency of your managing work. You’ll be able to avoid losing orientation, inertia, and absent-mindedness in the periods of finishing one project and starting another one, between 2 important meetings, moving from one place to another, etc.
In such non-structured periods, you can engage yourself in some significant activity. For example, making notes about your thoughts, ideas, achievements in your notebook. You can also devote this time to developing alternative plans which especially concern 3rd World countries where unexpected events happen quite often. If plan A fails, you can try to accomplish plan B or even C. Such prior planning prevents a huge waste of time as you will always have several reserve plans.
It’s useful to make a to-do list daily and to add periodically notes and changes there. Having such a note at hand, you’ll be able to use your time more productively and pay more attention to the most essential aspects of your activity. It’ll also help to avoid repetitive tasks and not to distract on not so important things.
We often hear the phrase: “I want to do so many things but I don’t have enough time.” Such a statement has no reason. An average 70-year-old American spends 10 years on work, 23 years on sleep, 6 years on reading and studying, 11 years on eating and taking care of oneself, 13 years on vacation and entertainment and 7 years on other things. If you save 20 minutes on any of these actions, by 70 years you’ll have an additional year. So it’s not true that you don’t have time. The key thing here is how you use it.
Use your sleep time
Another method of better time management is to enhance the quality of your sleep in order to decrease your body needs in it. An average person sleeps ⅓ of the life. If you use this time for self-education, you can significantly enhance your efficiency and productivity. One of the methods is to try to remember everything you dreamt about right after you get up. You should also write all the thoughts down. Sleeping may be used for remembering: you’ll be astonished to know how much information stays in your memory. Some people use players with autoreverse: before going to sleep they switch on music or audio texts perceiving them on the level of subconsciousness. There are lots of such recordings that will make your sleep productive.
As you learn to value your sleeping time, its efficient use will be beneficial for your body, intelligence, and soul. It’ll help you to serve better to your family, organization, society, all humanity and God.
Methods of time economy
Alan Lakein is one of the best consultants on methods of rational time management. He made up a wonderful list of ways to save time:
- All the time I see as “work time” and strive to make every minute give me satisfaction (not necessary practical use).
- I do everything with pleasure.
- I’m an incorrigible optimist.
- I always aspire for success and work for it.
- I never waste my time thinking about failures.
- I consider that suffering about what I couldn’t do is a waste of time.
- I always remind myself: “There is always time for really important deeds”.
- I try to think of a new method of saving time every day.
- I wake up at 5 o’clock and go to bed early.
- Dinner should be light so you don’t feel sleepy after it.
- I don’t read newspapers and journals (or very seldom).
- I look through books in search of useful ideas.
- I don’t have a TV. (When astronauts landed on the moon, we booked a hotel room with a TV. If I want to watch a pre-election campaign, I rent a TV.)
- My office is near my home so I can walk to work. I use my car only when I’m in a hurry.
- I analyze my habits from time to time so that I can correct them or get rid of some of them.
- I have no “waiting period”. When I need to wait for something or somebody, I consider it a present. I can rest, make some plans or make something on what I didn’t have time.
- My watch is always 3 minutes ahead, it hurries me up.
- I always have blank notes in my pocket 3×5 inches so that I could write down my thoughts.
- I revise my life goals once a month.
- I look through the list of my strategic tasks daily so I could plan my day.
- In my office, I hang remindings of my strategic tasks so that I could always see them.
- Even doing small things, I always keep in mind long-term plans.
- Every morning I define what should I do first and then I plan the rest of the day.
- I make a detailed plan of things I need to do according to the priority.
- I develop an activity plan in advance for the month so it is varied, balanced and provided time for unexpected events.
- When I finish the most important deeds, I allow myself to relax and give myself a bonus.
- I keep to a rule “Do the most important thing first”.
- I try to be smart at work, rather than be a workaholic.
- I try to do what I have already planned without changing one thing for another.
- I totally trust my priority scale and try to always keep to it.
- I ask myself from time to time: “Will anything bad happen if I don’t do it now?” If no, I don’t do it.
- When I try to escape doing something, I ask myself: “What am I running from?” Having got an answer, I try to finish an unpleasant deed as fast as possible.
- I keep to “80/20” rule. (For many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes).
- When I start some huge project I get to the part which brings the most profit. In many cases, I discover that there’s no need to do what’s left.
- I try to get rid of unproductive activity as fast as possible.
- I give myself enough time to concentrate on priority questions.
- I worked out an ability to keep concentration for long periods of time.
- I never concentrate on several actions simultaneously.
- When I feel I can be a winner in a situation, I apply a maximum of persistence and stubbornness.
- I concentrate my efforts on what will bring the most benefit in long-term plan.
- I’ve gained a habit of fulfilling everything in my list of urgent deeds.
- I write down many of my thoughts.
- I do creative work during the morning and day while the evening is left for meetings if necessary.
- I set deadlines for myself and others.
- I try to be an active listener in communication.
- I value a time of other people and try not to abuse it (if it’s not something important for me).
- I delegate anything I can to other people.
- While working on something demanding special knowledge, I always ask specialists’ help.
- I charge others with checking my email, answering phone calls and all the routine work.
- I try to reduce unnecessary paperwork and throw away all the useless papers.
- I deal with every paper only once.
- I write answers to the majority of letters on the other side of the letters.
- My table is always tidy. All the important things are placed in the center.
- All the things have their own definite places (so you don’t waste your time searching for something).
- I have 3 hours on different trifles per month.
- On weekends I try not to think about work.
- I often rest doing nothing.
- I don’t think it’s a tragedy that I spend some time on activity which I have to do against my will. It’s inevitable.
- During my working hours, I cut down idle talk.
- I often ask myself: “What can I do now to accomplish my strategic tasks faster”.
- I also ask myself: “How can I use this moment to get the most benefit?”