Managing our Time A Lifelong Process

Management Development Plus (MDP) assists health, education and human service organizations enhance their services in cost effective ways that improve employee productivity and consumer satisfaction.

The concept of time management often brings about a negative response from workers, at least initially. Frequently they think of coaching or a scheduled workshop on this topic as indications that managers are "blaming" them for not meeting deadlines because of poor time management. Yet, managing time is a universal challenge that most of us face on a daily basis, not just at work, but also in our personal life. We can all benefit from incorporating more effective time management skills into our current life styles.

Too often, we respond to demands without planning or thinking them through within the context of other things that need to be done. While some of the time pressure we experience may be influenced by outside factors, we may exasperate the situation by our response, including that of not managing our time effectively. It is important to recognize that we can often control how we manage the time for activities and demands, making choices about what we do, how we do it and when. Time management refers to techniques that help people choose how to spend their time.

Implementing some of the time management techniques may initially seem like one more pressure that takes additional time. Yet, once they become a part of our routine, they save us time and help us feel more productive both at home and on the job. The initial investment in taking time to learn and implement the techniques is well worth it!

Why is managing our time a lifelong process? Think about routines that you may have tried to change in the past such as eating differently, incorporating exercise into your life, going to sleep or getting up at a different time, etc. Think about habits that are very difficult to break such as smoking, drinking or overeating. None of these routines or habits are things that change overnight nor do they continue without some ongoing effort. Changing the way we manage our time is no different; it takes commitment and persistence. The outcome is worth it since effective time management can improve our mental and physical wellness by lowering our stress level.

Time Management Techniques

  • Make a daily "to do" list and prioritize the list each day. Assign each item a letter to designate its importance such as "A" for the urgent ones that must be attended to right away, "B" for the important but secondary ones and "C" for those that can definitely be put off to a later time or that may not need to be done at all.
  • Modify the list each day as needed, preferably at the end of the day when you can review what was accomplished, what is still pending and what might be added. Cross out items on your "to do" list as you complete them; feel good about what you accomplished; don't just focus on feeling bad about what is not yet crossed off on the list.
  • Be realistic about scheduling; it is sometimes better to overestimate the time projected for a task to be completed than to underestimate it and then have the pressure of falling behind. Plan for interruptions into your day; they will always occur.
  • Attend to priority items during the time of day when you are most alert; for example, if you are a morning person, tackle the more difficult tasks during the morning hours.
  • Distinguish between demands and requests and between those you can refuse and those you cannot. Learn to sometimes say "no."
  • Try to control interruptions by letting colleagues or family know that you cannot be interrupted during a particular time segment (e.g. " for the next hour" )
  • Arrange time for managing correspondence and paper work.
  • Delegate where possible. Choose carefully what you delegate and to whom and be clear in communicating what needs to be done. Careful thought and planning can help you avoid later thinking "I could have done it quicker and better myself."
  • Do not be afraid to ask for assistance or help.
  • Be aware of behaviors that might increase time pressure such as perfectionism and procrastination,
  • Identify key goals, objectives and implementation steps; make sure your time management plan is consistent with meeting these.

Remember to:

Balance the time you spend on work, home, family and friends and on taking care of yourself

Take time for fun and relaxation


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