Is it true when they say, if you want something done give it to the busiest person? If yes, why is that so? Are you that busy person that everyone dumps on because you will show up, you always perform, you never let down and you get results?
Or are you always on the go but at the end you feel that you have not managed to achieve much? Is there a way to improve our time management skills by actually doing less instead of doing more?
Are you busy getting results? Or are you busy doing nothing much? Time Management and planning seem to have become synonymous with productivity. But what if we were to become highly effective with not doing much?
There is no doubt that this pandemic has totally messed up our life, our productivity, our sense of time. One day we are at the office, the next we are constrained to stay at home and overlooking online tutoring for our kids. Or we are holding virtual business meetings in our track suits with a fancy scarf perfectly placed to disguise the fact that we could not bother to shower and prep up.
This post today is going to delve deep into how you can improve your effectiveness and productivity by actually doing less no matter what life is dishing!
Related: How to Overcome Fear of Leaving Your 9 – 5
Why Being Busy Is Not Equivalent to Being Effective
If we are going to talk about time management one of the best skills to acquire is knowing what to do and the best time to do it. Let us play out a scenario where your phone rings and you are in the middle to mapping out a strategy plan, and your colleague is making headway to your workstation. What should you do?
a. Pick up the phone and answer distractedly because you have one eye on the strategy plan and another on your friend making decisive strides towards you?
b. Give you colleague your attention and drop every else?
c. Wave off you friend and kill your phone and focus on your plan.
Which would you do? What if the answer is d?
d. There is no right answer
Now if you are looking at this post to find decisive answers, you are probably thinking that I have pulled a fast one on you. The truth is that I merely want to demonstrate that there could be a lot of different factions that have an impact on your decisions on how best to manage your time effectively, and bottom line it is only you that actually knows the right answer.
In order to be able to make the right decisions, you are going to have to run a mental checklist on the outcome of your decisions.
The questions could sound something like this.
1. Right here and right now what is my priority and how can I serve best?
2. Do I have any deadlines that I need to meet that I cannot fail on?
3. What is going to be the cost of my inaction or failure to do something because I choose to do something else?
So, let us have a look at these three pertinent time management questions and try to find out why sometimes we are exhausted from doing a lot but have nothing much to show for it.
This is how many people track their time
What if more people tracked their time on each task? We would become more efficient, productive and relaxed. Keep on reading and learn more time management techniques!
What Are Your Priorities? – Top Time Management Question
Let us backtrack and have a look at your colleague approaching your desk. What is the body language? As we know communication is only 10% talking, the rest is body language, listening and so much more.
Effective leaders know that they need to make time for the key people in their lives because this will always pay back.
Your colleague striding purposefully towards your desk may just want to go for a coffee and if you have a good relationship with this person and told him that you are focusing on an important job, he or she will understand and postpone.
But your colleague may be facing a crossroad that actually needs your expertise or you experience that will help you see the bigger picture, and it will eventually help your company a lot more than the strategy plan that you are currently working on. So, the outcome would have to be shelfing the current job to listen to your colleague’s problem.
Great leaders, and good time managers always weigh up the value, the magnitude and the priorities when deciding what best to do with time. If having a coffee with your colleague is going to get to the bottom on a problem that you have been chasing and a one-on-one will build rapport to get it resolved, then the coffee may be the better option. If you want to manage your time like a boss, you need to understand this!
Good to know! This is average focus span of our brains on one task.
What If you Have A Deadline – How to Best Manage Your Time?
Deadlines are deadlines, that is why they are deadlines and they will win. In case you did not know the origin of deadline came from the fact that a prisoner would be shot if he crossed the deadline.
When pushed with a deadline you must know whether it is a real deadline or a negotiable deadline. Is someone else imposing a time constraint on you so that they could free up their time? Is the deadline negotiable? Can you recruit help to get you to finish faster and share up the responsibility?
Weigh up the magnitude of the deadline. If it is really important, if it is really not negotiable and if it is really depending on your performance, then you have to show up and you need to get it done. Otherwise, you may end up on the wrong side of the deadline like the prisoner and get shot!
In the meantime, you still have a persistent phone hollering. Should you pick up that phone? Should you ask someone to pick it up for you and see how urgent the call is? What exactly is your position? If you are the top skilled person in customer service and you know that your phone ringing is your priority, you must pick up and deal with the situation.
If this is not the case, it may be worth going on voicemail and dealing with the call later. Bottom line, you must always evaluate your priorities, with a lot more than weighing value, but also with weighing up what is on the other side of the equation.
If you aim to manage your time well, you need to “be aware” and choose to plan and control. You choose what needs to be done first and also how much time to spend on each specific task.
If you are aware, then you will end up doing more in a shorter space of time and also lowering your stress level.
Check List for Top Time Management Tips - Manage Your Time Wisely
There is no question that there are benefits if you manage your time. You reduce stress, you catch up on opportunities, you hit your goals and best of all you end up with more time on your hands. Let’s face it – time is the only thing that is equal to everyone. I have not yet met anyone with more time to a day, except those who manage time better. So, the advantages of effective time management cannot be denied.
Here is a list of tips for effective time management that we all know about, but when you actually roll them out, you “become aware” of what you need to do in order to manage your time better.
#1 Use the SMART Model When Setting Goals
If you do not want to chase your tail all day long and go round in circles – use the Smart Model to Set Your Goals.
Your goals must me Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely. You cannot be vague about your goals and you cannot set unrealistic time frames. More importantly the goals you set yourself can actually be attained and relevant to your life. Fall out of the trap of “I would like to” and re-purpose it to “I am going to”.
#2 The Real Value of Prioritizing in Time Management
The example I played out at the introduction is an everyday real work-life situation. Tasks needs to be prioritized depending on how important they are and how urgent they are. When you are weighing up the urgency and importance you need to keep the following values in focus.
• Urgent and Important. This is a Top Priority. Deal with it right away.
• Important but not terribly urgent. Allocate a time that you will not compromise on in the near future to deal with it.
• Urgent but not Important. Give the job to someone else who is better equipped to deal with it. In other words, delegate with sense.
• Not Important and Not Urgent. Unless you are going to get your endorphins kicking and do better in the next job, set it aside and deal with it later.
#3 Set Time Parameters to Finish a Task
Have you ever been in a situation where you muck about with something and never finish it off, and then suddenly someone needs it urgently and you magically finish it in a very short time? This happens when you fail to set a time constraint to finish a task. You can only manage your time if you master it!
When you know that a task must be done, and you have evaluated how important it is, you must decide how long it should take you to do it and think of help you may need to finish it off.
One of the biggest problems and why we fail in time management is that do not know how to recruit the right help to meet out deadlines. So, if you are setting a time limit but you know that you are going to need help, then get organized with the right expertise.
If you need to draft complicated reports which depend on collecting information from other key sources, do not get to the cliff’s edge before you reach out for help. So plan ahead and give yourself the blanket comfort of knowing that you will get the right help from the right sources to finish on time.
#4 Have a Break – Have a KitKat
Wasn’t that some of the best marketing you ever heard? Whenever you are doing heavy tasks, that drain you, it is really hard to stay motivated and focused. Therefore, put an alarm that will remind you to have a stretch, a walk, a beverage so that you can clear your head, stimulate your body and then you can go back to dealing with your heavy task.
Meditation, short walks or even a short nap can do wonders to restore your energy. And then you can manage your time better!
#5 Journal, Get Organized and Plan Ahead
Almost everyone I know, and that was myself included totally underestimated the power of journaling. When you journal, your to-do list, your goals, your priorities and your dreams manifest themselves as reality.
Journaling is important because when you actually write down what you are hoping and wanting to achieve, you have automatically set yourself a deadline on your to-do list. You will also improve your performance by getting organized with calendars and mapping out specific tasks. If you see it written down, it becomes real.
When you journal the night before, you will start the day with a clear idea of what you need to do and in what order you need to do it. This is the best way to make the rubber hit the road the following day.
#6 Cut Out Superfluous Activities
I bet you are thinking, what could be more obvious than that. But if you really want to get something done, you need to do away with stuff that someone else could be doing for you more efficiently and effectively. If you can run a shopping list and send it out online, you could be freeing up precious hours of your time which you can use on more important things.
I would also add another point here. Tackle the stuff that you hate to do first thing when you are still fresh and strong. You can then look forward to more rewarding tasks as you grow into your day. If you do your tasks the other way round, and tackle the “hated stuff” closer to the end of your day, there is a very good chance that it will take you much longer to get that stuff done and it will invariably feel much heavier.
#7 Slow Down and Don’t Spin Off the Wheel
If you got the drift by now – you will have a better idea of how to sharpen those time management skills. Knowing what to do and when to do it is the key. Being busy will not mean that you are effective. So you need to stop and think.
• How Important is the task at hand?
• Do I have a deadline?
• How Urgent is it?
• Do I have to do this, or can I delegate it?
• Does it have to be done this way or is there a different and more effective way?
Asking yourself these very simple question will help you getting a better grasp of your time management and become more effective with your results. Manage your time like never before!
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About the Author: Marie Ella is a finance major and entrepreneur who has built several 7 figure businesses. A Business Coach who specializes in helping women get a strategy from chaos and build their own financial freedom.