Time control is directly related to goal setting. I love Lewis Carroll’s quote, ‘If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there.’ It is essential to identify what you wish to achieve (both professionally and personally) and document it. Once this is established, you will subconsciously utilise your time towards achieving it. Time wasters typically do not have clear and structured goals.
Now that the stage is set, use the following pointers to knuckle down on managing your daily clock.
- Be conscious of your time. Even the smartest among us are guilty of occasionally saying ‘I don’t know where the time went.’ If you are conscious of the degree of time spent on each activity, you will always know where the time went.
- Plan your day the evening before so you begin the day with a purpose. You are more likely to sleep in late, have an extra cup of coffee or be idle if you do not wake up with a determination to achieve the measurable goals already set out for the day. During your evening ritual, ask yourself what you have accomplished today and how has it moved you closer to your goals before preparing for the next day. Questioning yourself forces you to be accountable for your actions.
- De-clutter your workspace. A cluttered desk produces a cluttered, slow thinking mind which extends the time spent on each task.
- Making a ‘To Do’ list is a routine part of one’s day, but how many of us are making a ‘Don’t Do’ list? It is often the little things that steal time. What fruitless activities are the thief of your time? Is it social networking, crushing candy, watching amusing video clips online? Note your thieves down and chances are probable that you will fall less victim to these weaknesses.
- Allocate a strict time limit to unimportant tasks.
- Don’t fool yourself with activities that are work related but not productive, like constantly checking if an email was answered or spending an hour exploring different colour combinations for a spreadsheet. Become results oriented.
- Take regular breaks. Did you ever work tirelessly on a project without success and the minute you gave up and removed yourself from the situation, swiftly came up with a solution? Overworking exhausts the brain and it will essentially take longer to complete a task. Ensure that your breaks are relaxing and rejuvenating. Switching from a work task to a social networking site does not constitute a break. Do some of your best ideas originate in the bath or shower? Research has not been conclusive as to what motivates ‘brilliant shower brain’ however one of the assumptions is that water relaxes a person. Now I do not suggest taking regular baths during the course of your day but opt for calming ‘no screen’ breaks like taking a walk, having a snack (away from your work space), taking deep breaths, catching up with a friend or getting a dose of sunlight. Restrict it to 10 minutes every 2 hours.
- Do not multitask. Dividing your energy in the workplace is a recipe for disaster. Moreover, multitasking is a myth. Recent neuroscience research has shown that the brain cannot perform several tasks simultaneously. The truth is that the brain constantly shifts to and from each task. The time that it takes for the brain to transition to the new task adds unnecessary minutes, depletes energy and results in more errors being made. So while you may think you are ticking several items off your ‘to do list’, it is proved to be quicker to concentrate on one thing at a time. Returning to correct mistakes will cost you even further.
Having just returned from a funeral service, I am reminded of the most valuable commodity that we have. Our lives are made up of years. Dissected still, a year comprises seconds. Use those seconds wisely and have the time of your life!