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“Until we can manage time, we can manage nothing else.” – Peter F. Drucker
Profound words indeed, and the more you read them – the more sense they make.
Our lives are run on time. Every single thing we do (both at home and at work) comes down to time spent. Sometimes we feel overwhelmed knowing that there is so much to do, but a finite number of hours to do it in.
So, how do we effectively manage this resource given to us, ensuring that important tasks are not allowed to slip by the wayside? Consider adhering to these twelve highly effective time management principles:
- Set your priorities
Which tasks are most important and need to be achieved first? Prioritise time-sensitive tasks above ones that aren’t as urgent.
- Don’t over commit
Know your own limitations and don’t commit yourself to the completion of tasks you are doubtful will be completed within the timeframe.
- Plan your time
If you know you work for 8 hours a day, determine the time frames for each task you have to achieve and see if they fit into your available hours. If not, push more menial tasks to the next day.
- Leave time for the unexpected
Allow yourself extra time for unexpected tasks by slightly over-budgeting the timeframes of each task you need to achieve.
- Handle things correctly the first time
Doing something correctly and completely once takes less time than doing a half-hearted job and having to amend or tweak at a later stage.
- Make realistic deadlines
Give yourself realistic deadlines, without being influenced by the person who needs the task done. If it’s going to take you 5 hours, and they want it in 4, don’t allow yourself to be pressurised into rushing.
- Set yourself goals
If you’re not setting yourself personal goals, you might end up losing sight of why you’re doing what you’re doing. Always have bigger goals that you work towards.
- Develop routines
When habits are formed, automatic processing takes place which reduces the amount of time required to complete tasks.
- Focus on one thing
No matter how well you are able to multitask, focus on one task at a time, and on finishing that one task to the best of your ability.
- Minimise your distractions
Distractions kill productivity and waste time. In order to focus on what you’re doing, limit your distractions (like placing your mobile phone in your drawer).
- Outsource or delegate tasks
Don’t be too proud to ask for help or delegate tasks to other capable individuals. Rather get it done as a team than have it delayed because you don’t have enough time.
- Leave time for fun
Don’t forget to leave yourself time for a little fun. Consider knuckling down on a Thursday and Friday morning allowing you an hour or two on Friday afternoon for some rest and relaxation.
As you can see above, the most important principle to follow for improved time management is to determine your priorities. These are the tasks that are most important, and should ideally be completed first.
“Managing your time without setting priorities is like shooting (an arrow) randomly and calling whatever you hit the target.” – Peter Turla