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Wikipedia defines Time management as the process of planning and exercising conscious control of time spent on specific activities, especially to increase effectiveness, efficiency, and productivity.
Geoffrey Chaucer once said, “Time and Tide wait for none”. Time is one resource that once spent is gone forever and it is the one resource that is available to every human in the same quantity. Nobody has the tiniest bit more or less than the next person. Rich or poor, everyone has it in equal quantities.
Since no one has it more or less than the next person, the most important thing about time is how you use it. What is your overall output as you use that one resource?
One thing is certain, it is one resource that almost everybody wishes they had more or managed better. Using your time efficiently starts with asking yourself which activity is more important and how much time should you allocate to that activity. You must prioritize and determine what needs to be done now and what needs to be done later.
According to the IOSR Journal of Business and Management [1CHARUMATHI .N, 2ANUSHA .V, 3JOSEPHIN JENI .J] Time Management has some key elements that include:
- Effective Planning
- Setting goals and objectives.
- Setting deadlines
- Delegation of responsibilities
- Prioritizing activities as per their importance
- Spending the right time on the right activity
It common knowledge that failing to plan is akin to planning to fail. Do you plan your day ahead? Do you plan your week ahead? Your day or week shouldn’t start without a definite and clear plan of what you want to achieve. Do not be like a ship lost at sea with no sails, tossed about by the wind, reacting to events and not being deliberate and intentional on how your most valuable resource, time, is used.
Have a plan Have a To-Do list and the estimated time required to get it done. Set also the definite start time for each task.What you must do is prioritize your activities from the ones that you regard as high priority and scale it down to the least important. As the saying goes: Do not spend major time on minor activities. And conversely, do not spend minor time on major activities. Forget the myth of multi-tasking. Focus on one activity at a time. Make sure you finish one based on the time and plan you have before you proceed to the next one.
Setting Goals and Objectives
Always make sure your tasks and activities are set within the scope of your overall firm goals and targets. Make sure that the targets are realistic and achievable. Setting unrealistic goals and targets is the fastest way to burn out and get discouraged. Write out all goals and targets and make sure that all your tasks that you set aligned with it. Always write out your overall firm goals for the year, quarter or month and break it down into other smaller time periods – weekly and daily. Then set your work goals and targets to align with the overall goals of your firm and department.
Never let tasks be open-ended. What has a beginning must have an end and in this case you determine the end date and time. Your goal is to strive to ensure that you beat the deadlines you set. If you are given a task with a deadline, set your own deadline to finish before the deadline set for you. Strive to get it done according to your deadline.
Delegation of Responsibilities
The word NO is a great word to use. Don’t be afraid to use it when you need to. There are times when you cannot take on more than you have on your plate. There are times when certain tasks will not be the best use of your time. You need to say NO at such times. There are times when you need to delegate. You cannot do all things by yourself. Delegation is alright and in some cases, the best thing to do to get the best results. Ask yourself, who can complete a specific task faster and more efficiently than you in terms of resources to be used, especially time? Then delegate accordingly.
Take a look at the image at the top of this post. It explains this very clearly. Prioritize ALL your tasks based on urgency and importance. You need to clearly define what is important and also do the same for what is urgent. Urgency will involve determining the time frame within which that task is required done. Important and urgent tasks should be dealt with first before anything else.
Spending the right time on right activity
There is a saying that time can be “expanded” to accommodate a task that requires less time. In other words, do not spend more time than is necessary on any given task. Do it and get it done fast; get it done in the shortest time possible. Period. Make that a habit. Do not linger on tasks that do not need any extra second more. Focus is key. Avoid all kinds of distractions. Cut off unnecessary calls, messages etc. Do the right thing at the right time.
Smashing your time management goals, getting things done at the right time is highly possible. It is achievable but it takes discipline. You can do it. You can be that highly efficient time manager in your firm. Another key thing is being organized. What processes do you have in place? Are they optimized for delivery? Are there processes that are repeated that can be automated?
The right processes for the right tasks, using the right tools in the right way will give you excellent results and improve the overall quality of your work all the time.
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