Time Management is defined as ‘the practice of using the time that you have available in a useful and effective way, especially in your work'. Time management relates to prioritization. If you know how to prioritize things you will have better time management skills.
If you learn how to conquer time management effectively- you’ll be able to get more quality work done in a shorter amount of time. So, just to reiterate -effective time management can give you... better work quality, more productivity in less time so you can still have a balanced life with less stress... sounds good right!?
If you neglect to tend to improving your time management skills- it may have a negative impact on your daily life- with experiences such as:
- Higher stress levels
- Poor work quality
- Missed goals and milestones
- Low self- esteem due to slow pace and inefficiency with time
My old boss (and mentor) always managed to everyday, without fail, shout at me in a military fashion... “You have 24hours in a day, 168 hours in a week”.
And although it did make me view time as a valuable resource, this like many other beliefs that we have been conditioned to hold on a collective scale are limiting us- without us even realizing it.
Having the belief that we need to break our backs, working nonstop to achieve success, creates hard to manage standards with reference to work.
Working every hour of the day leads to burn out, lethargy, low self-esteem and bad moods because we are either not meeting our extremely high standards (thus we our judging ourselves negatively for it), or, our work quality is poor because we haven’t taken the fundamental rest needed or experience a healthy work/life balance to produce optimum ‘flow’.
*Flow is a state of complete immersion in an activity- also known as “being in the zone.”
In his book the 4 hour work week: author Time Ferris believes the current 9-5 grind in exchange for weekends, and the occasional one-week (no more than 2 weeks) holiday model is flawed. Like many others, he has hacked the system and developed his relationship to time due to mastering the laws of Pareto’s Principle.
What this law states is that 20 percent of your activities will account for 80 percent of your results.
To put it more bluntly; the ten tasks that you have planned to progress your project are not necessarily equal in value.
In fact, what Pareto’s principle says is that out of a list of ten things, two actions will contribute majority to the outcome that you aspire to achieve, and the others which most likely take equal amount of time to complete are holding you back in terms of efficiency.
Ferris builds on the notion work smarter not harder; “The goal here is twofold, find your inefficiencies in order to eliminate them, and secondly find your strengths and those critical few tasks so you can multiply your output.” It is really important to be honest with yourself but also free of overly negative self-judgement. You may be exceptional at many things, you may be trying to expand your skillset in other unfamiliar areas – but in terms of efficiency for getting a project done, running a complex business- please be honest yourself. What are you skilled at? What do you find does not come so naturally to you?
In other words, ask yourself: what am I doing that someone else could do better?
This frees energetic space to focus all of your energy into your skills that will support, drive and grow your projects in a very efficient way.
It is common to mask progression with “busyness” to feed your ego by claiming a false sense of accomplishment, yet do not fall into the denial trap of setting more tasks meaning that you are moving forward. Some tasks could be entirely unnecessary and therefore limiting your great resource: Time. You’re too busy completing a task that will have little or no effect towards your output, that it may be stagnating your energy and motion.
Could this be something you are doing unconsciously in a self-sabotaging manner? Ferris says: “the important thing is to shift from presence to performance, cut out the static, all the things that consume time and income without contributing back, and focus on the critical few. You’ll find that very few things matter.” The offspring of success is efficiency, efficiency regarding all the small details. Knowing where to place your power (energy).
If we can get clear about which 20% of our work input will contribute the most to our goals, we have a great foundation for utilizing time in an efficient way and cut out the unnecessary. We do not have to work 100% of the 24hour day to feel as if we are accomplished, but we should make sure the time we do invest in work needs to be concentrated, focus and present.
Tips to help you get on the right side of time:
1. Be intentional for productivity – have yourself set up for success.
Get 7-8 hours of sleep, drink plenty of water and have a healthy balanced diet to support optimum performance.
You wouldn’t put cheap fuel into a sports car, then expect to get to your destination across country with the smoothest ride possible. Take care of your mind and body to lay the foundation for success, to increase focus and presence when it comes to your work flow.
2. Set SMART goals. Goals that are; Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound. Setting SMART goals is a great way for you to keep on top of time management. It reduces the risk of time wasting that could be due to setting unrealistic goals or not having clear deadlines.
It is helpful to check in with the progression of your goals by reviewing your list of SMART goals regularly.
Everyday be clear about what your intention is. Set an intention for each day for what you would like to achieve, or experience.
3. Prioritize your mornings for the most important tasks. At the start of each day, review what your list looks like and analyze which are the most highly leveraged tasks that you could tackle fist.
Renowned author Mark Twain once said, “Eat a live frog every morning and nothing worse will happen to you for the rest of the day.”
Twain refers to the biggest and most tedious task and compares it to ‘eating a frog”.
By eating the frog first thing in the morning, the rest of the day you can work off the smaller things, those tasks that do not require so much brain power.
This method helps beat procrastination which could later on in the day due to the looming pressure of those arduous tasks. Once it is completed, you earn a sense of accomplishment giving you great energy to carry through your allocated working schedule.
4. Time blocking is an effective strategy to manage time in the most productive way. Sales tycoon and author Jeb Blout encourages his readers to “protect the golden hours”. After researching and working with companies in various industries across the globe Blout came to the conclusion that in terms of productivity – what employees achieved in a whole day could often be achieved in a few non-interrupted “golden” hours. Infact through blocking the time out for high energy and focus many people tripled their productivity levels.
Time management is self-management, plan your day wisely and block out timeslots or ‘power hours’ to enhance your productivity.
Make an appointment with yourself at a specific time to complete important work, you can make it official by logging it into your calendar.
This should be a meeting with yourself by which missing or delaying is absolutely not an option. Treat this meeting as you would any client with respect and significance.
Parkinson's Law states that work tends to expand to fill the time allotted for it, without concrete time boundaries work tasks can often can expand to fill your whole day.
‘Horseman's Corollary’ is the opposite of Parkinson's Law. It describes how work contracts to fill the time allotted.
A good example of defying large amounts of work into a small-time frame is the notion ‘cramming’. Although we do not encourage cramming due to being a poorly managed and panic strategy. It is evident that students who cram in their university dissertation in the last few days before hand in, even though they had been given months to complete it and get top marks, show that quality work can be completed in shorter periods of time leveraged off the looming pressure of completion. Time blocking can be transformational in supporting a better work-life balance. It supports the realization that it is better to work 100% of the time allocated by chunking down into time block than to work 100% the whole day... (which often leads to burnout and low morale).
5. Don’t lose your state of flow. Make arrangements ahead of time to prevent a distraction from happening prior to starting your work. Think about all the possible distractions you could have in advance and that way you can have a really productive day by limiting it to just you and your laptop.
- place your phone (biggest distraction of the modern world) in another room if you can. Turn off all notifications.
- If you have kids who regularly come and ask for things while you work – arrange care, for those precious ‘power hours.
- Prepare lunch the night before
- If needed put a ‘do not disturb’ sign on your door.
6. Avoid Multitasking - A research suggests that only 2 percent of people can multitask effectively. Therefore, the act of multitasking actually wastes time and limits productivity. Be present and focus all of your attention on the task in hand, do not allow yourself to feed the ‘accomplished ego’ which buys into busyness by reverting to pursing multiple tasks simultaneously as productive when actually it’s usually the contrary.
7. Delegate or Outsource work.
Amber McCue, founder of the CEO school proclaims: “self -made millionaires and billionaires outsource nine out of ten times when there’s someone out there that can do it better. Other people tend to DIY everything- that's just not an efficient use of time.”
Outsource work that isn’t your expertise. Many entrepreneurs make the mistake of misusing all of their precious time by taking on all aspects of the business: making the website, writing the copy, editing the film, sending out newsletters and making the sales. People who tend to have a ‘growth mindset’ fall under the false assumption that to be great is to be skilled in everything that supports their business. Personal development is a key driver, and its important to build on skills in different areas yet you can dilute your focus by taking on too much. For the time and energy it would take to learn how to build websites, you can purchase one for a fair amount by someone who is an expert in that field and perhaps avoid risking all that time for a potentially amateur looking website.
Be clear on how you can drive your work or your business to success without the need to be wearing all of the hats, because ultimately this will make the process to completion longer (sometimes unnecessarily). Delegating confronts how you scale yourself. It gives you the opportunity to get more work done in the same allocated work slot. It is natural to find delegating or outsourcing hard to do, especially when you are prone to a perfectionist streak. It will require you to let go and trust other people so you can focus on the most important tasks at hand, and the income – producing activities while at the same time reducing mental clutter.
What’s your relationship with time? How do you feel about time is it your ally or enemy? Do you perceive time as a great asset or an obstacle to your success?
Just by shifting your perception of time and how you relate to it will create dramatic changes in your approach to the day and work flow.
Journal your thoughts to the following questions to help you explore your relationship with time:
At the core of every waking moment is the state (mood) that you hold. If you can master being on the right side of time and connect to a grounded and productive space; you can leverage time to achieve set tasks in an efficient consistent way.
Track your work progress by setting a few alarms throughout your allocated work schedule.
When the alarm bells: take a deep breath and check in with yourself?
Am I feeling in the flow?
Have I committed to my power hours without distraction?
Have I spent the last hour productively?
Is what I'm doing right now the next most significant use of my time?
Is there any work that can be delegated/outsourced?
Did I eat the frog?
How can I support this process?
Am I drinking enough water for optimum mental function?
By creating this awareness from regular reflection- It facilitates the formation positive habit of managing your time efficiently.
When you are being consistently present with your work space, systems and flow- it opens the door for adjustments and tweaks of strategy to consistently support you for the best quality of work. *If you have placed your phone in another room to avoid distraction, you can set alarms on your computer. There is an online site called; www.kukuklok.com