Whenever I see the term, “Time Management,” I laugh, ha ha, because to me, Time Management is every bit the same type of oxymoron as “Jumbo Shrimp,” “Deafening Silence,” and “Open Secret,” to name a few. (Someone suggested “Happily Married” but that one didn’t make sense to me – isn’t that right, Dear?).
There's no such thing as time management! So why should you read the rest of this blog? Because there is such a thing as self-management and that's the key to making time your ally rather than your enemy. Time really can't be managed. You can't slow it down or speed it up or manufacture it. It just IS. Time management is MANAGING YOURSELF when following some basic time management principles.
Here are all the things you need to do to become Master/Mistress of your time!
1. Find out where you're wasting time.
Many of us are victim to time-wasters that steal it.
2. Create time management goals.
For example, you're not going to take phone calls from people you don’t recognize on caller ID between 8:00 AM and 12:00 noon.
3. Implement a time management plan.
4. Use time management tools.
A software program such as Outlook, for instance, lets you schedule tasks easily.
5. Prioritize mercilessly.
You should start each day prioritizing the tasks for that day; if you have 20 things to do for a given day, analyze how many of them you really need to do.
6. Learn to delegate.
Share the load.
7. Establish routines and stick to them as much as possible.
While crises do come up, you'll be more productive if you follow routines.
8. Set time limits for tasks.
For instance, reading and answering email can eat up your whole day if you let it.
9. Be sure your systems are organized.
Are you wasting a lot of time looking for files on your computer? Take the time to organize a file management system. (Let me know when you get this done and I’ll let you do mine.)
Ok, we both know you’re not going to do any of this stuff! So here’s what you can do: Work on controlling the following three things and you’ll be more productive and less frustrated.
Alexis de Tocqueville wrote in “Democracy in America” in 1835, “Procrastination is the thief of time.” Then marketers at Nike came along and said, “Quit making excuses, putting it off, complaining about it, worrying about it. Suck it up. Hold on tight, say a prayer, make a Plan and JUST DO IT!
One study shows it takes about 25 minutes to get back into the swing of things after you’ve been interrupted. Try to manage interruptions. For instance, before 12:00 noon, determine that you’ll take phone calls from Mom, your daughter (900 miles away in college) and 3 important business contacts AND NO ONE ELSE!
This is best illustrated thusly:
Recently, on a day off, I decide to go out and water my garden. As I turn on the hose, I look over at my car and think it needs to be washed. As I start toward the garage, I notice mail on the table that I collected from the mailbox earlier. I decide to look through the mail before I wash the car. I lay my car keys on the table, put the junk mail in the trash bin under the table, and notice that it is full. So, I decide to put the bills back on the table and take out the rubbish first. But then I think, since I’m going to be near the post-box when I take out the rubbish anyway, I may as well pay the bills first.
I take my check book off the table, and see that there is only one check left. My extra checks are in the desk in my office, so I go inside the house to my desk where I find the bottle of Diet Coke I’d been drinking. I’m going to look for my checks, but first I need to push the Coke aside so that I don’t accidentally knock it over. The Coke is getting warm, and I decide to put it in the fridge to keep it cold.
As I head toward the kitchen with the Coke, a vase of flowers on the counter catches my eye – they need water. I put the Coke on the counter and find the reading glasses that I’ve been looking for all morning. I decide I better put them back on my desk, but first I’m going to water the flowers. I set the glasses back down on the counter, fill a container with water and spot the TV remote control. Someone left it on the kitchen table and I realize that tonight I’ll be looking for the remote control, but I won’t remember that it’s on the kitchen table, so I decide to put it back in the front room where it belongs, but first I’ll water the flowers.
I pour some water in the flowers, but some of it spills on the floor. So, I set the remote control back on the table, get some paper towels and wipe up the spill. Then, I head down the hall trying to remember what I was planning to do.
At the end of the day: the car isn’t washed; the bills aren’t paid; there is a warm bottle of Coke sitting on the counter; the flowers don’t have enough water; there is still only one check in my check book; I can’t find the remote control; I can’t find my glasses and I don’t remember what I did with the car keys. Then, when I try to figure out why nothing got done today, I’m really confused because I know I was busy all day, and I’m really tired.
I realize this is a serious problem, and I’ll try to get some help for it, but first I’ll check my e-mail.