Written by: Joyce Rantsho
Time is one of the most precious gifts we have in this life and forms part of the most important commodity we hold. The problem related to time is its management, which some master and many dismally fail at it. The emerging question is that of the distinction between the two parties – what is the secret or the recipe to disaster?
In pursuit to answering this question, many other aspects are also addressed along the route, such as, the matter of effectiveness,goal achievement, progression, and development. This concept is also known as “killing two birds with one stone”.
Chapman & Rupured suggest strategies for better time management, which formulate basic guidelines that can assist in improving productivity at workplaces. Firstly, analyze where most of your time is spent by keeping a time log of every 15 to 20 minutes. Knowing this data can help determine which tasks require a great deal of time and which don’t, thus allowing you to proactively act upon directing these activities to a time of the day where you are most productive.
Another element is setting priorities. This is the distinction between what is urgent over what is important. This distinction simply helps you know what is to be done now and what needs to be done as soon as possible, as both tasks are significant even though timed differently. The easiest way to deal with these tasks is to create a ‘to do list’, which can target hourly, daily, weekly and monthly activities. The list varies from one person to the next depending on their lifestyles. One important ideal is to keep only one list; multiple lists can cause confusion and be counterproductive.
The utilisation of planning tools may minimize the take of making the list and help set reminders of tasks due- this is also the reason behind a sound knowledge base in computer literacy. Productivity has never been about how long one works but more about how quick a task can be done in the easiest way possible. We live in a highly advanced era that provides us with multiple resources that simplify work load thus giving us more time to also balance our lives with adding other important activities like spending time with family, close friends and on valuable activities that enhance our lives like sport recreational endeavours.
I live by a moto that that goes something like this – “Cleanliness leads to GODLINESS” which takes us to my next point about getting or staying organised. This strategy can help you better comprehend, access and retain information easier. Clutter sometimes magnifies problems and tasks due. So for some advice on handling information and scattered documentation, categorize your documents (soft or hard copy), so as to know how to respond to different tasks. Ways to minimize the overbearing workload is to either delegate tasks, act on it immediately then file it to get it out of the way, so as to make space for other important tasks to be done, or simply file away temporarily, until action needs to be done in due time.
Scheduling time appropriately is one way to avoid slotting task in that were never planned for. Sometimes we find ourselves being “yes-people” – when a new task is presented to you, you lack the ability to say ‘no’ and instead agree to the new task; you could become overloaded and potentially land up completing nothing! Saying ‘No, I’m busy with other tasks at this moment in time’ or ‘sorry I cannot help right now’, in no way means you don’t want to help someone, it just means you can help them right now while you are busy with current tasks.
When a task sometimes seems impossible to complete, don’t be afraid to ask for help from those who can assist you or whose strength lies in that particular task. This doesn’t mean you are inadequate; it becomes a learning experience, which enhances knowledge base and assist with increased self-efficiency. It is also imperative to know when to draw the line between asking for assistance and taking advantage of others. Sometimes help can come from goods and services that save you time and money. That way you don’t waste time trying to do a task that could have taken a few minutes to complete.
The silent killer is PROCRATINATION! Putting off tasks that you can simply do now. Sometimes we find ourselves overwhelmed by these tasks and eventually find ourselves having to rush through them in panic as deadlines draw near. Getting started with a task is one of the most difficult parts of actually getting to do it. If this is the case with you, start small, by collecting preparatory material that will assist with completing the task, and organise them into smaller segments; this will make the task less intimidating.
Life is also unpredictable, emergencies might emerge which most of the times, divert you from the initial task at hand. Examples could be unscheduled meetings, stakeholder phone calls, emergency meetings, family obligations and also damage control tasks. Avoiding them may be out of the question but minimizing their likelihood and time spent on them is a possible direction. Implement strategies such as getting to the point, keeping times set, planning for the unforeseen by actually setting time apart for such, delegating family responsibilities, creating central communication platforms or even addressing matters immediately to get them out of the way.
AVOID MULTITASKING at any cost! Multitasking proves to be counterproductive because of one’s focus always being diverted to different tasks, thus concentrating is difficult and eventually results in 0% work done. Learn to do one task at a time, and complete each one before moving to the next –as simple as that!
With all this been said, nothing can be done without being healthy, so take care of yourself first before taking on any task, whether big or small. Get enough sleep, eat healthy and exercise to decrease chances of getting ill and to improve posture and mental and physical equilibrium. Also ensure that strategies utilised are fit for your lifestyle and can work for you – No two individuals function in the same way. So the next time you feel like a 24-hour day is not enough for you, sit back and do some introspection (self-observation) about how and on what you spend your time on. If some people can do it, then it is definitely possible to execute, so the only barrier would be yourself. Although it might seem like a contradiction to sit down and read about ways to save time instead of actually going out and doing something about it, it may very well serve the purpose of saving you time on unproductive activities and strategies.
Chapman, S. & Rupured, M., 2008. Time Management: 10 Strategies for better time mangement, United State: Cooperative Extension.
If you are interested in reading more about time management, here are some interesting reads:
Time Management – Mind Tools’ Essential Skills.pdf