Managing time efficiently has always been the hallmark of great business leaders. Effective time management has become more so important in present day business world because jobs are becoming more and more accountable and the time we have to produce desired results is fixed and limited.
At some time in our lives, all of us have tried to beat time by organizing our daily routine using an electronic or paper-based day planner or must have tried to prioritize and schedule our day using any other basic tool or technique. But nothing would have seemed to work and we had still feltthe need to do more.
Why this happens? The answer is simple. All the ‘time management’ gadgets and systems cater to managing clock time. Clock time is irrelevant.
In clock time, there are 60 seconds in a minute, 60 minutes in an hour, 24 hours in a day and 365 days in a year. All time passes equally. But we live in real time.In real time, all time is relative. Time flies or drags depending on what you’re doing.
Real time is something which is psychological. It exists in our mind. It is created by us.But clock time is designed by nature. Anything which is our own creation can be managed by us.
By and large there are primarilytwo ways to spend time: thoughts and actions. Regardless of the type of job you do, your work will be composed of these twoelements.
As a business manager, you may be frequently pulled in different directions by unwanted interruptions. While it will be difficult to completely eliminate all of them, however you do have a say on the time to be spend on each one of them. By choosing how much to spend on thoughts and how much on actions, you are able to properly channelize your efforts in right direction leading to success.
Practice the following techniques to become the master of your own time:
- Maintain daily diary of your schedule and record all your activities. This will help you to understand how much time you are gettingto finish a particular task during the course of a day and where your superfluous time is going. Through this mechanism you can analyze how much time is actually spent producing results and how much time is wasted on unproductive and non-essential thoughts, conversations and actions.
- Any activity or task should have a deadline attached to it. Tasks without assigned deadlines cannot be completed on time and hence their output is difficult to measure and monitor. Workable to-do lists must includeopening and closing schedule with time blocks for high-priority thoughts and actions. And then maintain discipline in following these timelines to keep deadlines.
- Plan to spend considerable amount of your timetofocus on actions that produce most of your results. Another way of saying “Plans are not important, planning is”. Allocate some buffer time for disruption and interruptions.
- Take the first 30 minutes of every day to plan your day. Don’t start your day until you complete your time plan. The most important time of your day is the time you schedule to schedule time.
- Before beginning to work on any assignment, take five minutes to decide action plan and think what result you want to achieve out of it. This will help you to approach your task strategically and it will also reducedown time. Take some time after each activity to determine whether your desired result was achieved. If not, what was missing? Re-work on the missing inputs in your next call or activity.
- Manage disruptions judiciously. For e.g. practice not answering the phone just because it’s ringing and e-mails just because they show up. Don’t instantly give people your attention unless it’s absolutely crucial. Instead, schedule a time to answer email and return phone calls.
- In the age of digital media and smart phones it is sometimes crucial to remain cut-off or de-link yourself from unnecessary communication and information overload to save vital time and energy for more important work. Block out distractions like Facebook etc. and other forms of social media unless you use these tools to generate business.
- Learn to say no to activities that do not add any value to your work but consume lot of your valuable time otherwise. Remember that it is simply not possible to get everything done. It is often believed that 20 percent of your attention span produce 80 percent of your results. So train your mind in investing time on activities that produce maximum results for you.
- If you so feel, take help of any professional training to developing proactive skills that focus on time management.Many professionals lack fundamental training in managing time. But, even more importantly, they lack the sensitivity and awareness needed to value the importance of time effectively in their all day long activities.
Skills and techniques are easier to teach, but values, beliefs, and attitudes are much harder to teach – and harder for managers to learn. Yet, these are the underlying issues that will most make managers successful – or not when it comes to managing time effectively.