I wrote an article earlier in the week titled “There’s not Enough Hours in the Day“. I have received so many emails and facebook messages about people’s struggles with time management since, that I thought I had to deal more with the issue.
Time management is obviously such a big problem in so many people’s lives as they never seem to have enough time in the day to complete all of their day to day tasks.
“You will never “find” time for anything. If you want time, you must make it”. Charles Bruxton
A common stressor that effects many is when they feel as though they don’t have sufficient time in the day to accomplish what they need to accomplish. Do you feel the need to be more organised and/or more productive? Do you spend your day in a frenzy of activity and then wonder why you haven’t accomplished much?
Time — or the lack of it — is a big stressor to many people. Many people are controlled by time rather than being able to control it. One way to reduce stress is to learn to manage your own time and reduce the number of distractions and time-wasting factors.
Stress frequently results from a build up of time pressures. Work deadlines, long working hours, time spent commuting to and from work, and domestic responsibilities once you get home all mount up to create stress. Are you always rushing around, feeling overwhelmed, miss deadlines, have difficulty making choices, pass over private time needed for relaxation and rest and confuse “keeping busy” with truly being productive and getting results.
Symptoms of ineffective time management include:
- Missing deadlines
- Feelings of constant rushing
- Indecision about taking action
- Non-productive activity
- Being overwhelmed by demands or details
- Feeling fatigued or listless
- Not enough time for things you’d like to do
- Over-involvement in other’s problems
- Taking work home nightly
- Constant interruptions during the day
- Lack of delegation to others
- Procrastination on tasks
- Facing the day without a plan or goals
- Feeling that you are neglecting family or friends
The first step to dealing with your time management is to measure yourself. Even if you know how you waste time, what your time waster activities are, this test will be revealing.
Download this Time Management Quiz (PDF) to find out whether you make the best use of your time.
Now you know how well you manage your time, and if like so many others time management is not one of your areas of strength, well now it’s time for you to do something about it.
When you manage time well, you make better use of your time; in fact you will make more time for yourself. This will allow you to spend more time with your family and friends and increase your performance and productivity in all walks of life. This will help reduce your stress. Using time effectively involves making wise choices that will produce positive results, and reduce the stress. You can’t change the fact that you’ve only got 24 hours in a day, but it can help you get so much more out of them.
Effective time management eases the pressure on you and improves your stress levels. It will enable you to plan and organise your life so much better. One of the most effective methods for handling daily stress is to practice skills that help you use your time far better.
The first thing you have to do is accept that indeed there are only 24 hours in a day. Nothing you can do will change this. It is vital that you manage yourself, and the things you do with the time available to you.
“The swiftness of time is infinite, as is still more evident when we look back on the past”. Seneca
How much time are you wasting? On what things are you using your time that are neither productive or useful in any way. In my coaching practice, I have a client, who, prior to coaching, couldn’t understand why he was achieving so little every day. There was so much he wanted to get done, but never seemed to have the time to do it.
He has so much potential and possesses so many talents. What we discovered was that most of his day was wasted in a form of day dreaming. Worse than that, he was stuck at his computer, obsessed with internet chat rooms. He would get up in the morning, spend a few hours passing time in the room. He would constantly, throughout the day, pop back in, and then spend another hour or more. He would carry this throughout each day, and each evening.
In a way it was a form of escapism. It kept him from trying to make things happen in his life, and thereby averted the fear of failure.
Once we dealt with this issue, and removed this as a time consumer, his progress was unbelievable. Suddenly he structured each day, and made fantastic headway.
So you have to change your behaviours in order to make the most of your time, You have to start by getting rid of your personal time-wasters. Start now by setting specific goals with regards to the activities you’re going to cut out, and start by monitoring for one week your success at not doing these things. Keep track of this massive change. It’s going to be hard at first, breaking habits always is, particularly bad ones, but the rewards will be worthwhile.
What are your time-wasting activities that steal the time that you could be using much more productively?
Be honest here, paint yourself a true, accurate picture of what you actually do with your time. To physically manage your time you have to know how you’re using it now, and then plan how you’re going to use your time in future.
You have to free up time, and the best way to do this is to stop spending time doing needless things that accomplish nothing, other than wasting time. Also you have to eliminate the temptation to worry over those things you cannot change – another waste of time. Now, you have to make the best use of your time.
“Time is free, but it’s priceless. You can’t own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep it, but you can spend it. Once you’ve lost it you can never get it back.” -Harvey Mackay
You probably aren’t even sure where your time goes. You’re sure you don’t waste time. Use this time log to track your time. By writing down the activities you carry out and how long each takes, you can get an understanding of how you spend your time.
Download this time-log (PDF), print out a copy for each day of the week and start tracking!
What you really should be doing is focusing your time on high priority activities!
Put that limited time that you have into the areas that will provide long term benefits. You have to ensure you have time to do all the important things. When it is important, you have to be able to make time to do it. Later we will discuss your personal lifetime goals, definitely an area where you are going to want to concentrate a significant amount of your time.
Maintain and develop a list of specific things to be done each day.
Set your priorities and the get the most important ones done as early in the day as you can. You have to make sure you are organised. Don’t waste time looking for the things you need. From your car and house keys, to paperwork, files on your computer, clothes, and everything else you need on a daily basis, get organized to the point that you can quickly lay your hands on what you need.
Your time is worth everything. So you can no longer afford to squander any of your time on wasteful activities. No longer allow yourself to waste time because you don’t realise your time to be of value. Every second counts.
When you are thinking about doing an activity, think in terms of what it will cost you in pounds and pence, rather than in hours and minutes. If you train your mind to think of time as money, you will undoubtedly become more conscientious about how you spend your time.
Use the following time management plan to plan your tomorrow’s.
Download this TIME MANAGEMENT PLAN (PDF), print out a copy for each day of the week and start tracking!
When you work long hours, and every day you are rushing through trying to get more and more done, where your personal life seems to move further into the background, and you have no time for your family, let alone yourself, you are a prime candidate for stress. So if you’ve noticed that you’ve been getting headaches, feeling exhausted, showing a lack of enthusiasm for things, getting irritable easily, you’ve reached the point of stress, and need to make positive changes in your life.
With all the massive demands and responsibilities you face in life, you can not hope to get through intact unless you start planning your time, and it is not possible to manage your time unless you have a plan.
We’ve all heard about creating ‘To Do Lists’, undoubtedly many of you have used them before. Making a list every day of what needs to be done! Writing it down! Keeping it at your fingertips! Marking off each item after you’ve completed it.
This allows you to organise and tick off the tasks that you need to complete each and every day. I have found that keeping a written To Do list, increases my productivity, keeps me focused, and prevents me from both wasting time on unimportant things, and ensures that I spend time on what is important. By doing this I avoid the stress that would otherwise be created. Planning will give you a sense of purpose for your day. It makes sure that you’re not just unconsciously taking random actions.
The difference in the way I suggest you go about creating this To Do List, is by providing a compelling reason behind all your actions within your plan. You would do well to start by taking an extra moment to consider what you want to achieve today. What are the most important things you need to do? What at the end of the day, do you want to have done with your time that will make you feel fulfilled and proud of your accomplishments? What actions would mean that at the end of the day, you’ve actually achieved something satisfying and rewarding?
So to start you need to focus on three things to then be able to produce results in your life through your daily plan:
- Initially determine what you want to achieve – the results that you are committed to producing.
- Know why you want it – the compelling purpose that gives you the drive to persevere.
- Know how to make it happen- calculate what you need to do.
Everything you do should be designed around your goals in life, whether they be professional or personal For you to make progress towards your goals it is essential that you spend time working on them.
Planning immediately reduces stress, enabling you to transform overwhelming situations into a sense of certainty that you can achieve everything that you want to. Don’t just focus on a massive list of items. Plan your day based on the three key questions to focus you at all times on what it is you want to achieve. Always keeping your goals in mind will ensure that you stick to an effective action plan which will keep moving you forward toward your goals.
How often does your work completely take over your life? Well start planning your days to ensure it doesn’t and you are making time for other things and other people. When you find yourself focusing on just one area of your life, at the expense of the others, this is not only bad for your health, but also demonstrates you don’t take the trouble to plan out what you are going to do with your time. For a healthy, stress free life, you need to start right now creating a balance in all the areas of your life.
With the fact that you have so many different things competing for your attention, it makes it all the more essential that you make the conscious effort to take control of your life, and plan in advance what you will focus on, so you no longer live in response to the demands of the moment. When you put your focus in the wrong place, or completely onto one thing, this creates stress for you.
A Positive focus will change the way you think, the way you feel, and what you do in any moment. When you change your focus, you change your life. In producing your plan you have to determine what are the most important things you want to achieve in your life, so that you can focus on what’s most important to you when planning your time.
Do not set yourself unrealistic deadlines, which you cannot possibly keep, and remember to always make time for yourself in your routine.
Thinking and planning ahead can be very beneficial in removing the stress associated with leaving things to the last minute.
A simple method to manage your time more effectively is to sit down at the end of each day and write down the six most important things you can do the next day. Spend 5-10 minutes each evening on planning your activities creating a daily To Do list for tomorrow.
Download this To Do List for tomorrow(PDF), print out a copy for each day of the week and start tracking!
Ask yourself two questions: (i) what one thing could you do (that you are not doing now) that if you did on a regular basis would make a huge difference to your personal life? and (ii) in your work, what would produce similar results?
Now list all the tasks you have decided you need to do tomorrow.
Go over each task on your job list and determine the respective importance of each of them. Grade them according to the following:
“A’s” – Tasks that must be carried out
“B’s” – Important but less urgent; to do after completing all ‘’A’s’’.
“C’s” – only to do if you find time left .
If something unplanned crops up, list it on your job list, and grade it, before doing anything else about it.
Break down your To Do List into small, manageable action steps. When tackling complex tasks break them down into simple smaller steps, which then you can approach one after the other
When you complete each task, take the time to mark it off your list.
Prioritize ruthlessly. You should start each day having the night before prioritised the tasks for the day ahead. Plan your day the night before and set priorities for yourself.
“Dost thou love life, then do not squander time, for that’s the stuff life is made of”. Benjamin Franklin