A Simple Technique That Ensures You Won’t Waste Time On Trivia, And Focus Only On Essential Activites – That Get Done Fast!
Who has time for personal time management?
Not me. And not you.
Because that’s precisely what most people I talk to say when we first meet to discuss managing time better!
Does this sound familiar?
Waking up for a morning jog or walk, watering the garden, then off to work. Clocking 8 hours in a cubicle, not counting the commute. Two boring meetings, grab a sandwich for lunch, and then a presentation, before rushing off to a dental appointment.
Picking up groceries on the way home. Cooking dinner. Watching a favorite soap on TV… and guiltily putting off, yet again, that hobby project you thought would be your highest priority when you started it 2 years ago.
That’s kind of like how many people’s daily routine goes, with some variations.
And that’s not counting unscheduled distractions, like searching for a misplaced knife or shoe-horn, spending half an hour on the phone with a talkative friend who can’t stop bragging about his achievements at work, or getting stuck in a traffic jam.
If this looks like a regular day in your life (or if you find yourself wishing for such a “relaxing” schedule), then you’re up against it in a big way. You’ll need some time management skills to help you win back some of these wasted hours and bring more relaxation and higher efficiency into your day.
Tackling all of this while getting stuff done is the real challenge of personal time management.
The Big Questions in Personal Time Management
Before setting out to re-organize your system or plan a revolutionary shift in your schedule, ask yourself these big questions:
- Are you a procrastinator by nature? Do you keep putting things off for later?
- Are you caught up in the thick of thin things? Is most of your time spent on unimportant issues?
- Are you unrealistic in planning your schedule? Do you bite off more than you can chew?
If you answered ‘Yes’ to any (or all) of these questions, then you are not alone. Personal time management is a choice, one that must match your desired lifestyle and bring more harmony and peace into your daily routine. By consistently working at the core issues causing your stress and hectic work pattern, you’ll soon be well on your way to getting back those wasted hours.
The Secret Key To Efficiency
Time management and motivation go hand in hand. Analysis is the key to mastering your time. Most people don’t know where they are going wrong. The first step is to take stock of what you’re doing, and how long it takes.
Here’s a short, simple exercise. Try and estimate how much time it will take you to do the following things:
- have a cup of coffee (or tea)
- hold a meeting with your team
- prepare a presentation
- draft a letter (to a customer or partner)
- read and respond to email
- go through a 1-page letter
If none of these are things you do regularly, feel free to add any of your frequent tasks to the list.
After writing down your answers, take the next step. Pick 3 of the activities above (ones you do often, and repeatedly). Get a stop watch or timer. Time yourself as you go through these activities. Try and avoid speeding up – just work normally.
Now compare these measurements with the estimates you made earlier.
Many people I’ve given this exercise end up stunned at how much longer the actions take when contrasted to their expectations.
And that, more than anything I can say, will convince you that it is worth taking the time and effort to analyze the way you use your personal time.
Keep a Time Log
For one full week, keep a log of how you spend your time. It doesn’t have to be very precise or accurate to the minute. Just jot down the activity, and the amount of time it took you to complete. Write it down yourself, or get someone (a secretary?) to help.
After one week or record keeping, analyze your data. See which tasks are repetitive, and which ones take the most time. Ask yourself if the most time-consuming activities are actually the ones that are taking you closer to your biggest goals and targets.
If they are, then figure out if there is a more efficient way to get them done – or if they can be delegated to others. If they are not, find out if they can be eliminated completely from your task list.
Your time log reveals a lot about your work habits and your ability to manage time. By constantly repeating this process, you will steadily improve your skills at personal time management – and get far better results than someone who is limited to drawing up a to-do list!
Improve Quality of Your Personal Time
There’s a lot more you can do to improve your time management skills. Explore other sections of Time Management Tao – like the section on online time management and personal time management software – to learn about improving your effectiveness and eliminating anxiety from your life by following the stress-free path towards beating procrastination and getting things done.
If staying focused on your big goals and important tasks is your biggest personal time management challenge, then you may find this simple guide on “How To Focus“ of great value – it’s the most popular one in the Ming Vase Time Management series of books.
You may also want to sign up to our free “Time Taozine” weekly newsletter by filling in the registration form below. We will send you updates and information about improving your effectiveness and time managing skills.