Managing time is so important. I remember the first time I sat through a class or seminar on the subject. My thoughts were really clear “Wow, I guess i never really gave it alot of thought… I did make to-do lists, but actually sitting down and spending time planning how the day, week, month, year would go was never really in my scope.”
It has been some 30 years since that first time management seminar, and i would like to say i have honed that skill, but the truth is there are still some habits that fight efficient time management.
- Procrastination – Putting things off, or delaying getting them done is a toxic habit that leads to last minute flurries of activity. At the heart of the habit is probably a passion for the adrenaline rush of that last minute deadline. Experts recommend telling yourself to start the task… no pressure to finish it, but just get the ball rolling. Smaller tasks can be completed quickly. You may also think of making an action plan to strategize the work you were putting off. For example: On monday I will sit down and do the budget, and the bills; Tuesday will be laundry and dusting…
- Distractions – The phone rings, there is that show you wanted to see on TV, and a hundred other interesting things tug at your attention and your time. When i succomb to them I find that all of my to do lists and plans fly out the window. It is really important to get a handle on distractions, and put them in their place… stick to the plan and show self restraint from permitting the distractions to win.
- Not making a To-Do List – When i don;t take the time to make a plan of what needs to get done, I don;t have a plan of what to do. Yes, I hear that funny little saying go off in my head “Failing to plan is simply planning to fail.” Take 10-15 minutes each morning and reflect on what must be done. Now you can start your day with organization, clarity and a plan.
- Taking on Too Much! – Do you ever find yourself agreeing to a multitude of things and events, only to realize that you took on more than you can effectively do? Take a deep breath, and block out a few hours to look through all of your commitments asking yourself the one key question – “Am I effectively using my skills and time or is there someone else that can handle this task.” Recognize your limited time and skills, and be realistic in what you can do. Someone told me to use caution when saying “Yes” to others… say yes to the person, but that does not always mean saying “Yes” to the task they are asking you to do.
- Not taking breaks – I know of a few hard working individuals that work through lunch, and never stop. The truth is we are wired to have times of rest… not just to eat, but times to just take a mental break from the work, times to relax, or go for a walk, or just step away from the task. When we opt to not take breaks scientists tell us that we are wearing down and our productivity will go down as well. Taking breaks allows us to recharge all of our batteries – physical, mental, spiritual and creative.
Time management is something that is a helpful tool in accomplishing what we need to do… embrace the tools of time management, shedding habits and distractions that keep you back, and you will find the business growing, and you growing more disciplined.