Time, its definition appears tricky and elusive because it could mean different things to different people. It is generally used as a means of measurement however, it really is the essence of life. It is one thing that God in his infinite wisdom has given to everyone equally; rich or poor, young or old, regardless of the color of your skin, twenty-four hours make a day to both the King and the Peasant.
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Time is the stuff that life is made of, therefore wasting time amounts to wasting life. However, being hyperactive and always on the go, always doing something, does not necessarily translate to effective management of time. Managing your time effectively will help you to maximize your productivity. Here are a few tips to help.
Start each day with God
A time of prayer and meditation at the beginning of each day is a good way to set a positive, right tone for your day. It helps you gain focus and direction. It provides the inner strength and wisdom to navigate the day with its sometimes, unexpected challenges. Knowing what to do to at critical, unexpected moments would enhance your productivity and save you time considerably.
Avoid Time Stealers/Wasters
Much as the internet and social media has made socializing and communication easier, it has its downside; you could get carried away chatting or reading other people’s post to the detriment of important things you need to do. As much as possible, keep a check on the amount of time you spend on social media. For instance, reading and responding to e-mails can take all your time if you allow it. To manage this, you can enable e-mail notification on your devices so you know when you have an e-mail to respond to as a matter of urgency, otherwise, you can leave all e-mails till a specific time. You can also set aside time for browsing your Facebook page- you don’t have to go there all the time.
For most people, clutter is a major time-waster. You would be surprised at the awful amount of time we spend looking for things – car keys, checkbooks etc. Getting organized by having a specific place for most things and having the discipline to keep them back there after use would help reduce the hassle and time loss that accompanies looking for important things from time to time.
Organize your desk, your closet, your room, and even your e-mail box, yes your e-mail. You can have an extra folder in your inbox for bank-related or any other e-mails that you get routinely. You can archive mails that don’t need an immediate response but contains important information that you might use later. You can use filters to assign labels such as urgent, waiting (or any other appropriate labels) to incoming e-mails based on specified keywords, information or sender.
With e-mails sorted out this way, you can respond to them as appropriate; the one that are urgent would be given immediate attention while those that can, will wait. You can even create email templates, which you would customize as the need arises for mails that you need to send regularly to speed up your work.
At the beginning of each day, week or month, make a list of the things you need to do, put a timeline to each activity and then prioritize them based on their urgency, importance, or the length of time required to accomplish each. Doing this will help you determine what to do at which time.
It will also help you to plan and if you are successful at it, it would increase your productivity significantly. Setting priorities may not be easy, you can use time management tools such as the Covey’s Time management Matrix, electronic calendars and diaries and a host of other time management tools.
No one can possibly do everything, so if there are things that others can do better or things that are not so important, then delegate these tasks. As a mother or parent, allow your kids to do the chores (and dishes sometimes), it will give you time for some other personal things.
As a boss, you can delegate tasks to your subordinates. Placing your priorities right would help you know which tasks to delegate and which ones you need to complete yourself.
Make the most of ‘Waiting times’
Most people no doubt have to wait – for a doctor’s appointment, at train stations/airport etc. Effectively utilize your waiting times by filling it with low importance, but necessary activities such as checking e-mails, catching up with friends on social media or returning missed phone calls, reading, listening to podcast on your phone, and sometimes just relaxing and meditating depending on where you are waiting and what you are waiting for.
Have a regular “Time Audit”
From time to time carry out a time audit to determine exactly how you spend your time, what wastes/steal your time and how you can improve on it. Life is dynamic and so are our schedules. A time management system or regime that once worked may no longer be effective if your lifestyle or job requirement changes considerably. So a time audit, every once in a while will help you to know when you need to make the adjustment.