It's About Time - Time Management Tactics
We all know logically that time is a finite resource. Yet many of us live as if it can be stretched so that we can fit more and more into a 24-hour day. Sometimes we sacrifice sleep so we can get more done. Or we live our life imaging we can fit more in than we actually can, so we spend a lot of time rushing to complete tasks that actually need more time or apologising when we miss a deadline.
When we don’t manage our time and energy well, life can feel out of control, and we are constantly chasing our own tail. On the other hand, when we do manage these resources well, we find we can better prioritise, have a better balance in life both at work and outside of it, and have more time to relax, unwind, and do things that are simply fun, adding to our enjoyment and wellbeing.
Time management is something we can learn and improve. It can be defined as “the decision-making process that structures, protects, and adjusts the way we spend our time.” There are three key skills to do this well.
- Awareness: we think realistically about time by understanding that it is a limited resource.
- This includes bringing self-awareness to how we prefer to schedule our time. Do we like to have thinking time first thing in the morning or later in the day? When do we prefer to do our regular admin tasks? It’s better to organise the day so it fits with the way we work most effectively. Being aware of time can help us act more autonomously, rather than simply reacting to others’ demands.
- Arrangement: design and organise goals, plans, schedules and tasks to effectively use the time that is available.
- The urgent-important matrix is a way to think about priorities. The horizontal axis goes from urgent on the left to not urgent on the right. The vertical axis runs from important at the top to not important at the bottom. Arrange tasks in this matrix to help decide how to organise your time. For example, anything that is urgent and important is prioritised. Anything that is not urgent and not important is put at the end of the to-do list, or perhaps let go.
- Adaptation: monitor use of time while carrying out activities, including adjusting for interruptions and any changes in priority.
- For example, try to reduce the errors made in estimating how long something will take; break down long-term challenging goals into smaller parts that are easier to achieve one at a time over shorter periods of time; create do-not-disturb time slots for concentrated effort.
Being more organised with time management takes discipline and effort – you may need to create new time-management habits. Also, note if there is any emotional pay-off from not organising yourself well. For example, If you leave things till the last minute, do you get an adrenaline rush when you make it over the finish-line just in time? You might have to give this up if you want to be more time-organised.
Counselling support can help you to identify when stress and anxiety may be affecting your time management skills and how to move forward. Start now and benefit from this free and confidential service. Call AccessEAP on 1800 818 728.