Effective time management has proven to be a very effective way for reducing stress. Time management entails balancing between your most valuable and undervalued resource. The way we spend our time determines to a large extent how successful or otherwise we are in life. Time is ultimately the most valuable resource we have and it is perishable.
I present you with the 6Ps approach to effective time management. Remember we all have a limited amount of time (24 hours) and we are responsible for what we do with our time. To quote the great martial artist Bruce Lee – “To spend time is to pass it in a specified manner; to waste time is to expend it thoughtlessly or carelessly. We all have time to either spend or waste and it is our decision what to do with it. But once passed, it is gone forever.”
To be able to spend time effectively, you have to be principled. Being principled entails sticking to your values against all odds. You can only be principled when you identify your roles in life and your values. Your roles and your values provide directions, guide your personal conduct and also determine how you relate to people. You have to stand for something, know yourself and try as much as possible not to be influenced in any way. Stick to your set of beliefs, and be yourself at all times. Once people accept you for you, they will fall in line. This way you are able to call the shots and not vice versa.
Adhering to your values and living a principled life takes a lot of practice. You have to make a conscious effort and create a pattern of ideals that you subscribe to. Practice means knowing when to wake every morning, when to eat your breakfast, and when to catch the bus for work. It also means tackling your problems, dealing with your tasks head on by either dealing with it, delegating, putting a deadline on it, dumping it on a subordinate or breaking it into parts (Dissecting it). You should be able to adjust your lifestyle until you are able to adopt a routine that makes it easy for you to live a fulfilling life. Regular practice forms a habit and very soon you will be able to manage your time without having to work at it. As the saying goes ‘practice makes perfect.’
Effective time management is about effective planning. You have to plan and set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time bound) goals. Effective planning helps you to achieve a lot. Plan your life, your daily activities, and always plan when dealing with tasks. Always have an angle, a plan, an approach for dealing with issues and remember to fix deadlines; the point at which you evaluate and check if your plan is working. Use a planner- don’t just go shopping, make a list, plan your route and fix a specific time frame. Have an inventory of your future commitments and have an approach for dealing with those commitments. Planning is the most important P among the lot. To manage time effectively means to plan effectively. As they say ‘failing to plan is planning to fail’. Plan for success, have a plan in your career, plan your family, plan your day and always remember to tackle the most important things first. Cascade by arranging your plan into years, monthly, weekly and daily.
You can’t plan effectively if you don’t prioritise. Your planner (To do list) should always have a list of your tasks with the most important ones on top. In prioritising you should consider your life as a person; think about your projects, your monthly, weekly and daily commitments and arrange them in order of importance. Grouping your tasks helps to tackle them more efficiently. You should re-prioritize tasks regularly and cross off completed tasks from your list. A very important rule is to carry forward uncompleted tasks to the ‘to do’ list of the next day. But you must try not to keep carrying forward. If you keep putting off a particular task this could either be because: The item is non urgent in which case it does not belong on your short-term to do list, or the item is making you put it off in which case you should either discard it or better still tackle it. Prioritising also helps to determine your level of concentration. You can easily identify which times of the day to focus all your attention on your tasks and which times to relax.
It is the characteristics of being able to complete a required task or fulfill an obligation before or at a previously designated time – Wikipedia. Need I say more? Punctuality begins with acquiring a watch. Keep your time accurate and constantly check the time- the trick is to set your watch 2 minutes ahead of time. One very important reason for being late is because people fail to realise that the time is going by as quickly as it is. You can’t use the weather to tell time, neither can you rely on the church bell, get a watch. The accepted norm (Since I am UK trained) is to arrive 15 minutes early. Things usually take longer than you think. It is why you need practice. Commit yourself to arriving 15 minutes early. Try as much as possible to examine how long your tasks take. If possible use an alarm to keep you in check. Punctuality also means that you have to meet your deadlines. Keep organised and as stated plan by prioritising. This way you are able to always be ahead of schedule.
The only negative P in the lot is Procrastination. At all times try not to procrastinate. Avoid time thieves- procrastination is one of them. You can tackle procrastination by listing all tasks that you are putting off. Take them one by one by putting a time frame on it and by all means reward yourself when you tackle a difficult task you’ve been putting away- Have a cold beer, a bottle of wine, eat out if you can. It also means being truthful and punishing yourself when you procrastinate- Lock yourself up and deal with the task, avoid leisure.
The greatest objective for effective time management is to avoid crises and stress. Remind yourself constantly that there is a limited amount of time available to you. Differentiate between what is urgent, important and less important. My advice, try not to remain in your comfort zone.