Time Management

In this topic you'll learn about creating better use of your time. It takes time to make time work for you. However, the purpose of managing your time is to spend time achieving those things to which you aspire.

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Introduction

Time is money, and many will admit to having time lost through disorganisation and disruption.

We also deal with a constant barrage of technology, people, and tasks that can contribute to that disorganisation. Many people find that they flit from one task to another, trying to get everything done.
It takes time to make time work for you. If you are truly going to make any difference in your life, you have to be prepared to make some changes.

There is an expression that says “no-one ever lay on their deathbed and said, “I should have spent more time at work.”

We all have exactly the same amount of time as a resource. Some of us make better use of it than others. The purpose of managing our time is to spend time achieving those things to which we aspire.  

What are my time wasters?

Where does your time go?

Listed are a number of common time wasters. Think about how you use your time at work and how many of these apply to you.

  • Telephone interruptions
  • Meetings
  • Lack of objectives and priorities
  • Dealing with urgent instead of important duties
  • Ineffective delegation
  • Accumulating 'trivial' jobs
  • Confused responsibility and authority
  • Drop-in visitors
  • Not planning for some unavailability
  • Leaving tasks unfinished
  • Lack of personal organisation
  • Being spread too thinly across too many tasks
  • Failure to say (and mean) no
  • Indecision and procrastination
  • Not seeing the distinction between activity and results
  • Lack of self-discipline
  • Accepting upward delegation
  • Inadequate support staff
  • Poor communication skills
  • Making snap decisions
  • Overuse of memory
  • Setting unrealistic deadlines
  • Inability to end conversations
  • Carrying incompetent employees
  • Disruptive workspace
  • Reacting rather than anticipating
  • Failing to distinguish between symptoms and causes
  • Not combining activities

How did you go?

Poor use of time often results because of factors other than day-to-day use of time. For example, having no clear picture of what we wish to achieve in our life or our career; having uncertain role or performance expectations; lack of power; and ineffective delegation.

Your control of the use of time will depend to a very large extent on your capacity to clearly identify the objectives and goals that you must achieve.

How many of the time wasters did you relate to?

Goals and objectives

A goal is something you want to achieve in either the short or long term.

Objectives describe how the goal will be achieved. They are a concise and clear statement of what it is to be done and to what standard.

Goals and objectives should follow the SMART principle.

 

Setting targets

  • An objective is something you want to achieve in either the short or long term.

A target is more than an objective.

It is practical and has a definite deadline attached. Targets help people to maintain standards and motivation; they should be challenging but achievable.

Once goals and objectives are decided, people set targets for themselves, for example:

  • A goal may be to lose weight.
  • An objective may be I want to lose 12 kilos.
  • A target may be – I aim to lose 2 kilos a months for the next 10 months.

Planning your time

Setting goals with SPIRIT

Goals and objectives are the basis for planning.

The first element in planning is knowing what we want to achieve, and the way we word our goals is the biggest factor in helping us achieve them.

Goals should reflect your SPIRIT.

 

The time management matrix

“If you cannot manage your own time what can you manage?”

Working hard and being effective are two different things. Results, not activity are what count.

Most people are so busy it is impossible to do everything. Effective time managers make decisions about what to do NOW, what to do LATER and what to DELEGATE. To do this you must have a clear understanding of your main job GOALS from your job description.

One useful way to think about your current activities is to use a simple matrix with two scales. These are:

  1. Importance (or the extent to which the activity is more or less important)
  2. Urgency (or the extent to which the activity needs to be done immediately or can be deferred until a later time)

man with phone

Setting up a routine

Get a routine to work for you

Be dull in your everyday routine so you can be wildly creative where it counts.

Routines simplify, clarify, plus create order and familiarity in chaos or high stress. Routines are the foundation of success.

Most of us have routines in the morning. Think about your morning routine and how, if you skip it you have a tougher time launching your day.

As you decide what kinds of routines will help you, you will need to simplify some things in your life. This is one of those things that is easier said than done, but is well worth the effort.

ipad and computer on desk

Routines include setting time with family, for sleeping, eating and exercising. It means setting a clear time for all routine activities.

The way to get routines to work for you is to make sure you are setting them at times that work best for you and your biological clock. Your morning routines should be so good that when you walk out of your home, you feel ready to tackle any problems the world throws at you.

Remember:

  • No activity is more important to ritualise than sleep. This lets your body know that it is time to slow down and prepare to shut off
  • By fixing mealtimes and planning in advance you will become vastly more efficient
  • Since exercise has such a powerful effect on brain energy and alertness, place your workout at times of the day that are most suitable to you.

Delegation

Do not waste your time doing things that somebody else can do, especially if they can do them better than you. Save your time for those things which you are uniquely qualified to do.

In addition to easing up your workload, delegation helps your staff to learn new things and to take risks (they still have you there for back up, if needed.) Delegating does not mean that you “give away” work completely. As the owner of a task, you must remember that you are ultimately responsible for the results that are achieved.

You must find ways to delegate, no matter what your position is. Learn to clearly define who is to do what and let them show you that they can do it. Make sure your communication is clear so that they know what your expectations are and any limitations of the assignment (i.e. budget, timeframes, or other resources).

Five steps

There are five steps to the delegation process:

  1. Explain why the job is important
  2. Describe what is needed in terms of results (not how, but what)
  3. Give the person the authority they need to do the job
  4. Indicate when the job needs to be completed and get agreement
  5. Ask for feedback to ensure a common understanding

Putting an end to procrastination

We are often guilty about procrastinating, and this stops us from getting things done. When we procrastinate about one thing, it can also interfere with getting other things done.

By procrastinating, that thing we are putting off often becomes a bigger and more daunting task than it really is. The more we think about (rather than doing something about it), the more space it can take up in our head.

This is a very simple concept that can have a profound impact on our results. There is no self-satisfaction in knowing that we are letting things get away from us, we feel better and more motivated when we go ahead and get these things crossed off our lists.

person in bed

Activity - Five steps to delegation

  • Explain why the job is important
  • Describe what is needed in terms of results (not how, but what)
  • Give the person the authority they need to do the job
  • Indicate when the job needs to be completed and get agreement
  • Ask for feedback to ensure a common understanding
Drag the five steps to delegation in the correct order.

Tips for time management

Strategies to avoid procrastination

  1. Organise your diary and plan so that you have time set aside to start projects. Always begin important projects first. Never delay starting an important project to finish off a low priority project.
  2. Plan for the completion of jobs. Plan a start date and break down each job into steps, scheduling dates by which each stage must be finished.
  3. Do it now.
  4. Do not wail until all of the information comes in to make a decision, unless the missing information is vital.
  5. Work on the most important things first.
  6. Think positively about your capacity to achieve.
  7. Fearing failure is a common motivation for procrastination, but procrastination increases the likelihood of things going wrong or failures. Get started!
  8. Plan your time so that you spend time on the important activities when you are most fresh.
  9. Discipline yourself to deal with things as they arise, and make a point of never dealing with items of paper more than once.
  10. Reward yourself for doing work well.
  11. Avoid the temptation to engage in social chats. Only become involved in social chats to the extent that they are necessary to establish good staff morale.
  12. Start off with the big problems first while you are fresh.
  13. Don’t be worried about getting every last detail right. Make sure that you get some sort of framework established and fill in the details at a later stage.

Adapted from TAFE Frontiers FLM Unit 1 Manage Personal Work Priorities & Professional Development.

Organise your office space at home and at work

Getting rid of clutter is one of the best things we can do to make a more efficient work environment. For some people, this is a daunting task. However, you can organise your office space just by looking at the surface of the desk and the contents of it.

If you tend to accumulate clutter, or are embarrassed about it, this task can best be done on a weekend and with a friend. In addition, when you schedule time for this assignment, double it.

Surface of the desk

Look at your desk. The object is to purge both the work surface and the contents of the desk. If the surface is already clear, that is great! However, if there are items on the desk, ask yourself if they are necessary and/or in an effective location.

Your first step should be to get rid of things that should NOT be on the desk.

Contents of the desk

Then move to the contents of the desk. Focus first on the tools you use, such as pens, pencils and calculator. Check to make sure of the following:

  • You have all the tools you need and they are in good working order
  • Tools are organised so that similar tools are together and easily accessible. Useless tools should be discarded or moved
  • Group ‘like items’ together; for example, stationery, envelopes and stamps are all in one drawer
  • Store any extra supplies in a supply area
  • Tools should be stored in a shallow desk drawer and not on the desk

Wrapping up

Reflect on the 168 hour activity

  • Was it hard to remember how you spent your time?
  • Did you take any time out this past week just for you?
  • How many things did you do that you planned to do?
  • How many things did you put off?
  • What is it you want to spend more time doing?
  • What do you want to do less?
  • Are you happy with the way you spent your time?
  • How many of these hours did you spend on the things you said were a high priority?

lady looking at picture on the wall

Summary

It's a fact that time management can be easy.

You are in control of your time.

Good time management is about knowing what is most important and doing that the most.

What now?

Head back to the main site and complete:

  1. The quiz
  2. The self-reflection
  3. The feedback survey
  4. You will then be able to access your certificate of completion!