Manage Yourself - Manage Your Time

24 hours, 1,440 minutes, 86,400 seconds - we all have the same time allocation each day. How we use it depends on our lifestyle and personal preferences. One thing which is clear, however, is that some people seem much better than others at using their time well. These are the people who, without too much fuss, achieve a lot, who manage their time well and who still have time to tackle new challenges, take on new activities and also find time to enjoy themselves. Others are always rushing around, leaving things undone and constantly chasing their tail while irritating or letting down others by promises unkept, achievement not reached, and time, apparently, wasted.
Where do you fit in? Do you manage your time to best effect, or are you at the mercy of your own 'disorganization'?

Managing your time is not about a set of magic rules nor indeed a magic wand which sprinkles 'pixie dust' and makes everything all right. It is much more about thinking carefully about what you have to do, the time you have available and how to get the best from it.

Balancing Conflicting Demands

For most of us, life is a question of balancing the many conflicting demands on our time so that we can do the things we have to do and fit in as many as possible of the things we want to do. This is about planning. Even so, you will need to accept that there will probably have to be some compromises and changes made. A good place to start is to decide the relative importance of the many demands made on your time. Everything will divide into one of three categories:

  • must do's

  • should do's

  • could do's.

The 'must do's' are those items which have to be done, either to achieve what is necessary at work or to enable you to enjoy your family or personal life. These are your first priorities. Getting enough sleep may be a boring thought, but it is a 'must do', because without it you will not be energetic enough to enjoy your social/family life or clear thinking enough to get the most out of your working life.

The 'should do's' are your second priority areas for attention - they are important and if not done will have an adverse result on your work or personal life.

'Could do's' are those items which are nice to do/consider (they may be very enjoyable) but which are not crucial. One of life's ironies is that the 'could do's' are often the most seductive items and it is easy to spend too much time on them.

Good questions to ask yourself include:

  • "Where must I or should I spend my time?"
  • "What are my main time wasters?"
  • "What could I do to get more from my time?

Time Wasters

However well we plan and however time conscious we are, on occasions, events and people seem to conspire to defeat us. There are lots of timewasters around, some external, some internal, which eat into our time and affect the way we use it. We all react differently to the many potential timewasters which exist. Do you know your favourites?

Internal Timewasters

There is a number of 'internal' timewasters. These need to be managed carefully by you. These internal timewasters include:

  • lack of self-discipline i.e. an inability to manage your own activities
  • absence of priorities
  • taking on too much and spreading yourself too thinly - this may be due to not being able to say "No"
  • believing that "you can't do it"
  • poor planning.

Time speeds by quickly at the best of times, if you have few plans and little idea how you intend to use time, you'll find it will go by just as quickly but you will have achieved very little or, your work will expand beyond the normal seven and a half to eight hour day and you'll be working into your own time in the evenings or at weekends. Making plans and writing lists of things to do helps you to set priorities, manage time and achieve work targets without eating into personal time. This sounds obvious but is so often just not done.

External Timewasters

These are factors which are generated by other people or circumstances and can really run away with your time. As with internal timewasters, they need managing. Such external timewasters include:

  • unplanned interruptions
  • unorganized meetings
  • paperwork
  • poor communication
  • poorly timed, or too much, socializing.

No Magic Wand

Unfortunately there are no six or ten magic rules for Time Management. It's more a question of managing yourself and taking steps to bring more order and organization into the way you use time. Find a system, computer or paper-based which suits you. Use it rigorously and take charge of that fleeting asset - Time. You would, if it was money, and it is!

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