Time Management

Time management is quite a critical issue.  People tend to be dragged into distracting activities everyday that drives them away from their original tasks.  Suddenly you find that your working day is over and you have not finished what you wanted to do.  Most people focus on being busy all the time, stressed and thinking all the time….When they should concentrate on RESULTS rather than being busy.

You will be surprised to know that you can finish a lot more if you have time management skills and without being worn out and stressed.  The 80/20 rule says that 80% of the unfocused effort exerted by people generates only 20% of the results. 

What you really need is:

  1. Set your goals.  What do you want to accomplish? what is the objective of the job at hand? what are your goals.  Know those and state them clearly to be able to move to the next step.
  2. Create an action plan after you understand clearly what you want to do.  It has to be time limited with milestones and a deadline.
  3. STICK TO YOUR PLAN!  it is very easy to put a plan but not very easy to stick to it.  hundreds of things will distract you every day and you will find yourself late.  You have to take control of your time.
  4. As part of your action plan, create a prioritized to-do list.  State clearly what is important and what is urgent.  Urgent should be handled first and then the important.  Within the urgent and important tasks, youu will aigain prioritize each task.  If a task is at the end of on your priority list, never handle it before a task on top of the list no matter what happens.
  5. Manage interruptions.  You will be interrupted by phone calls, employees walking into your room and talking to you, someone asking you for something,…. You have to be able to decide when to accept interruption and when to say NO.  This applies even to your manager.  If you are concentrating on an urgent or important task and anyone including your manager interrupted you, you have to say politely “sorry, I will get back to you when I am done”.   You have to realize that being interrupted is lethal.  It cuts your concentration and makes you finish a job that should take 30minutes in 5 hours. 

  6. Accept that there will be pop-ups.  Your plan has to be flexible enough so that when urgent pop-ups come up, you will be able to re-plan your time schedule.  This is a fact of life that we have to be ready for.  Sometimes interruptions are important matters that we have to take care of right away.  In those cases, you can not say NO.  You will deal with them and re-adjust your plan wisely to make sure no major delays are introduced.
  7. Beat procrastination! procrastination is the act of delaying important task because: we are waiting for the right mood, we hate the job at hand, we are overwhelmed and we think that the job is too sophisticated to handle, we think that the job is silly, we have poor organizational skills or we are too perfectionists so we keep delaying to make sure we do it 100% perfect.  This is the most lethal act any employee could fall into.  To beat it you can:
    • Calculate the cost of your time, to know how much you are costing the company by delaying tasks.
    • Create reminders and to do lists and track them for the tasks that keep showing over and over again to realize that those are the ones you keep delaying and take care of them.
    • Create your urgent/important matrix and action plan.  And STICK TO IT
    • If the task is too complicated for you, break it into smaller tasks and handle them one by one.
    • Create your own reward and punishment policy and reward yourself when you finish a task.
    • Ask a colleague to check up on you.  When you know that a colleague will check on you, you will be embarrassed to keep telling him that you did not finish yet.

It is very important to spend your time wisely.  I once read a nice quotation that says:

“You will never find time for anything.  IF you want time, you must make it — Charles Bruxton”.  It is very true, you must make your own time.  Complaining all the time that you do not have time to finish all your tasks, is your own fault. 

To say it in a couple of words: Plan your time, Prioritize, stick to the plan and manage interruptions.