Before we consider what might be the advantages of time management, it may first be useful to think about time itself.
Time is all we have. That is worth dwelling on for a few moments.
Many people worry about not having enough money. However, we know how much we have or haven’t got and there are ways in which we can all earn money.
We don’t know how much time we have. In fact, it is not something we “have” at all; but we spend it freely and we don’t know when it will run out. When it does, it cannot be replenished.
These considerations help us to realise the importance of time management as well as the importance of time itself.
We must use time wisely and
forever realise that the time is always ripe to do right.
Effective time management in the workplace is essential if you are to achieve maximum efficiency.
Let me give examples of a couple of people I have managed.
Philip was an investigator in a regulatory organisation. He didn’t have a particularly high case load – perhaps 45 cases or so.
His flexi-time arrangements permitted him to start work at any time between 8 am and 10 am and, depending on when he commenced, to finish between 4 pm and 6 pm.
Philip chose to start at 10 am but rarely arrived before 10.15 or 10.30 am. He left by 6 pm.
At 1:1 meetings he was often unable to recall the detail of his cases or recollect what had happened recently. Regular case audits revealed lack of recent action in a number of them.
Philip had no regular working pattern. Depending on his latest 1:1 managerial meeting or case audit he considered that all his cases were important or unimportant depending, so to speak, on which way the wind was blowing.
His case may be contrasted with Sally who, at any one time, managed not less than 55 investigations.
Sally started at 8 am and finished at 4, although she was able to be flexible if a crisis demanded it.
She was always able to account to her manager for the latest developments in her cases and to recall the basic detail of all of them.
Her audits were invariably clear and investigations completed on time.
When asked about her method of working, Sally was able to show a system of prioritising and reviewing cases regularly. She set herself daily tasks according to their priority.
In due course management decided that whilst Sally should be earmarked for early promotion, Philip would no longer figure in the organisation’s future plans.
Best time management will always involve an orderly and planned approach to the tasks in hand.
If everything is treated as important, the converse becomes true; nothing is important.
When planning, firstly, decide what is important and make a list. Anything that is not important should be entered on a separate list.
Next, look at the important list and decide what is urgent and what is non-urgent. Urgent means it needs to be done now or as soon as possible.
Now divide the unimportant list into urgent and non-urgent.
If you deal only with matters that are important and urgent, you will find yourself constantly in crisis and facing burn out.
Make sure you consider the other important matters even though they may not be urgent so that you are balanced and effective.
Be careful not to dwell on the unimportant list. If it is unimportant it doesn’t matter if it is urgent or non-urgent because spending your time there will render you ineffective.
Wherever possible, schedule large sticky tasks for the beginning of the day when you are at your freshest and, depending on the importance and urgency, work from the largest to the smallest during the course of the day.
Not only will you feel a greater sense of achievement, but you will notice that you get through far more in your allotted time.
The benefit of time management will be evident to you in your personal life. Many of us “waste” time because we fail to take proper account of short periods of time.
How many times have you caught yourself saying words to the effect, “Well, it’s only an hour before dinner so it’s not worth starting that.”
Then when dinner arrives you find that you have frittered that hour and not achieved anything when, instead, you may have been able, at least, to have made a useful start on whatever you had in mind.
Proper time management in your personal life will very much depend upon your hierarchy of values, something you may have read about elsewhere on this website but which, nonetheless, underpins everything we do.
Whenever you catch yourself making an excuse for not doing this, that or the other, stop and think about what you are doing and what you are not doing.
You always have time to do those things that you consider to be important to you.
You always have time to go to the hairdresser or attend your favourite ball game.
On the other hand, you might find that you never have time to put out the garbage or tidy your backyard or loft space.
If you live alone that might work for you. But most of us don’t.
If you have a partner, you can be sure that your hierarchy of values are different: that is to say, what is important to one of you may not be as important to the other and vice versa.
There is nothing wrong with the fact that your values are different, but if those differences are not addressed, it may lead to conflict and distress for both.
So examine the true value of your relationship. Is your partner at the top of your hierarchy of values?
If – as I would expect - s/he is, you may think it a useful idea to sit down together, compare your respective hierarchies, respect each other’s different preferences and decide how you will each accommodate them.
Whatever your definition of time management may be, your organisation of it will ultimately depend upon your personal priorities, whatever you perceive them to be.
It will be important for you to determine that they are in harmony with (i) with your partner or those closest to you in your personal life and (ii) your employer or business partner(s) in your professional life, making appropriate adjustments wherever they are necessary.
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