THE last instalment covered some advice for managing time, including setting goals, being aware of roles, writing things down, breaking down major tasks and prioritizing. This article will discuss some additional tips which will hopefully be beneficial in turning your to do list into completed actions.
We’ve all been there. There was something pressing we needed to take care of and somehow we got distracted and never got it done or took much more time than we hoped to to complete a task. We got caught up in a TV marathon watching a favourite television series for hours, got on Youtube and day turned into night as we watched one video after another. Our best friend called and time flew by as we chatted away. We got on Facebook. Need I say more? Distractions are inevitable, but in the struggle to use time effectively, there needs to be a decisive effort to try to eliminate as many distractions as possible. Sometimes this may require a deliberate attempt to temporarily isolate yourself from distractors, who sometimes come in the form of well-meaning family members and friends who may want to initiate casual conversation. More often than not, it comes in the form of technological devices, social networks, or other online distractors. Do yourself a favour: avoid these distractions in an effort to tackle your important to-dos. It won’t be easy, but you’ll be glad you did once that task is behind you.
While technology can serve as a major distractor, it can also serve as a vital tool in managing time. While keeping a weekly planner can be a handy tool for planning upcoming events and managing time, there are now numerous electronic resources that can be very effective in managing time. A quick search in Google Play Store, for instance, will reveal a variety of apps (including free ones) to choose from, each utilizing one or a variety of tools for managing time. My current favourite is a free app called My Effectiveness, which provides tools that utilize some of the tips I mentioned in the last instalment. There’s a tool for recording roles, goals, a 2×2 Eisenhower matrix for prioritizing tasks based on importance and urgency, a project tab which allows the user to break down a project into smaller sub-actions, a weekly planning option and more. Discover what time management methods work for you and take advantage of what technology has to offer.
I love this quote by Peter Turla, taken from Timeman.com: “Living your life without a plan is like watching television with someone else holding the remote control.” Essentially, you’re at the mercy of whatever happens when you refuse to plan your time. Wouldn’t you rather be in control? In order to get things done, consistently planning your activities can be a very worthwhile activity. Writing down your responsibilities and tasks is great, but it’s even more useful to plan your activities. That includes figuring out the amount of time a task might take, adding deadlines for achieving goals, preparing a schedule that takes into consideration all tasks which need to be completed in a given time, and including time for rest. Grab that remote control. Prepare a plan and stick to it.
Discipline, discipline, discipline.
As a person who has also struggled with managing time, I’ve found myself reading a variety of content concerning how to properly manage it. One such method that I considered was the ABCD method of prioritizing tasks which I discussed in my last article. I once confided to a family member that although I try to prioritize and accomplish the most important things first, I always revert to doing the easiest, least important tasks first, while the more significant activities remain undone. She’d responded that she faced a similar problem, and that the heart of this issue was discipline. Off course, no one likes to be told that they lack discipline, but having considered it, I’ve realized that discipline is a central aspect of proper time management. Lack of it will create a problem. Sure, there are a plethora of useful tips for time management, but utilizing those tips usually requires a level of discipline. A person needs to be disciplined enough to write down their goals, write his/her to dos, beat procrastination (time management’s greatest rival), or execute just about any method that even the greatest time management experts can offer. It all comes down to discipline.
I leave you with a thoughtful quote by Michael Altshuler: “The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot” (Timeman.com). Get in the pilot’s seat and take control of your time. Don’t spend too much time planning. Get to it, and just do it. The clock’s ticking.