TIME limitations are sad realities for those among us who are especially time conscious or who realize the value of time. Time is precious. Time is money. You can’t turn back the hands of time. Most people can name at least one or more clichés concerning time, but the truth is that properly managing it can become a serious challenge for the average person, especially those who take on a numerous roles with umpteen responsibilities. Consider the following tips for effectively managing this precious asset in order to get things done.
Know your roles.
Being aware of and first establishing an individual’s roles is a key aspect of time management. Everyone has a number of roles in life. These may include student, family person, career professional and more. Recognizing what your roles are is a vital part of efficiently utilizing time. It is an acknowledgement that each individual is multidimensional, so that with each role there will be a number of responsibilities. When you’re aware of those roles, you’re probably in a better position to evaluate whether or not you’re allotting the time and attention associated with the responsibilities that are associated with a certain role. Having done this, a person can aspire to living a more balanced life giving attention to the important roles in his/her life.
Set your goals.
So now that you’re fully aware of your roles, it’s important to set goals for yourself in each of the roles you’ve identified. Goals give a sense of purpose and direction to life and must be recorded in order to later allot an appropriate amount of time for the tasks at hand.
Write it down.
We are intelligent beings gifted with the ability to commit endless details to memory; however, even people with the sharpest memories are prone to becoming overwhelmed when faced with managing an endless to-do list. Writing tasks down can be beneficial not only because it helps to eliminate the possibility of forgetting important tasks, but it also lessons the frustrations associated with trying to remember a list of numerous responsibilities. Of course, eliminating this frustration is crucial since it can easily become a deterrent in completing very crucial actions. So avoid just mentally reviewing the endless things that you need to do repeatedly. Sure, writing things down may not completely eliminate the worry associated with responsibilities, but it can certainly put things into perspective and provide a visual, more manageable picture of duties and responsibilities and can assist in propelling the planner into action.
Break it down.
If you’ve ever written down your goals with the hope of pursing them, you probably can relate to feelings of frustration associated with taking on the steps necessary to achieve these goals. Initially, goals may seem overwhelming. Nevertheless, recognize that reaching a significant goal (especially one that can extend over a long period of time) requires a number of steps. As such, you’ll need to convert your goal into a number of small, doable steps. As you break down your goals into required steps, setting aside the time and deadline for completing these steps, you’ll realize that your big goal may not be quite as daunting, and you’ll be more inclined to take action without procrastinating and/or moping about your seemingly impossible goal.
You may have heard about the analogy of the jar filled with sand and stones, and how it’s so much easier to fill the jar (representing our schedules) first with the bigger rocks (major tasks), then with sand (less important tasks) as opposed to the putting in the sand first. This story sums up what the approach to time management should be. In order to be more productive in your use of time, do what’s more important first, and then fit the smaller tasks in. A great way to prioritize tasks on a to-do list is by using the ABCDE Method of prioritizing tasks. Brian Tracy, success coach and motivational speaker discusses it in his book Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time. He describes the A tasks as “very important” tasks that must be done, which will result in grave consequences if left undone, the B tasks as things that should be done, the C tasks as things “that would be nice to do but for which there are no serious consequences,” the D tasks as ones that should be delegated, and the E tasks as things that can be “eliminate[d] all together” (Tracy 32-33). In essence, tasks should be done in the same alphabetical order. Therefore, while writing to-do lists are important, don’t forget to prioritize.
In the next installment, I will discuss more tips on managing time. In the meantime, stay inspired and active.