How To Accomplish More In Less Time
There is never enough time to do everything you want. This is why books and seminars on time management are so popular. An entire industry has flourished to cater to this pressing need. Time is really more precious than gold.
Instead of rehashing the old techniques you were using to no avail, you should start off with new ideas to get this New Year rolling. Perhaps there is one or several of these that you can use to better effect:
Log your present time usage. Write in detail what you are doing with your time. There are those who advocate doing this in half hour increments; others advise to segment in 15-minute intervals. If possible, have someone else do the recording so that you could act more naturally and so that the process of recording does not interfere with your work. If there are certain events that take only a short time, like a minute or so, but happens so frequently throughout the day, note these too if the total is substantial. It is critical that you know where you stand first. This serves to support your succeeding actions. From this activity alone, you may be able to spot plenty of wasted time on tasks of low impact. You may also find that you give too little time to important but long-term projects. Knowing your starting point allows you to compare the improvement after you have implemented your strategies for time management.
Quantify the impact of a task. To be able to select what tasks to prioritize, there must be a way to have an estimate of its importance. When there is a clear way to translate to pesos earned or saved, there is little trouble. The main problem is that there are some tasks that are hard to quantify in value. Most of these are items whose benefits take a long time to come and furthermore are hard to correlate.
Prioritize. You must determine the sequence of what you plan to do. It is not simply that the most important task be done first, as often there are urgent problems that must be addressed first or else there will be irreparable harm. On the other hand, the important task may be done at a later time with no ill consequence. In practice, we tend to focus too much on little things that are urgent. This leads to important matters being postponed again and again until it becomes urgent. There is no simple formula to avoid this dilemma. You continuously need to assess the situation in order to maximize the benefits.
Set milestones. Having markers on your progress is vital for three main reasons. First is that you will be able to see if you are proceeding in time for the deadline. Second is that you obtain information on whether you can focus on more urgent tasks or if you can allocate more resource to reach your target. Third is the tremendous psychological boost of seeing your progress especially as you grow nearer to your goal.
Set deadlines. It has been said that the time needed to accomplish a task expands in proportion to the time available to complete it. Even if you have an indefinite amount of time, it is advantageous to set a deadline or else the task may never be accomplished or even started.
Do not bite off more than you can chew. It is ironic, but true, that the more tasks you try to do, the less you can accomplish. There is simply not enough time to do everything. We tend to understate the time it takes to accomplish a task. You can start with just a few and then increase the quantity of work load gradually.
Learn how to delegate. For many people, the real problem is their habit of micro-managing. If you have the staff that can do the work, then pass it on to them. Do not expect perfection, but you will be able to accomplish more.
Eliminate unproductive activities. There is time-consuming work that might no longer be needed. Just ask yourself what will happen if you quit doing the task; if the result is not alarming, then perhaps it is better that you do something else.
Allot time for exercise and medical check-ups. Many people do not concern themselves about their health until a medical emergency hits them. Prevention is always better than a cure. It is also highly recommended that you have a regular exercise schedule. The energy you will gain is more than enough to offset the time lost in exercising.
Have tools for organizing your tasks. In the past, a planner was the most sophisticated tool. Now, however, there are many computerized planners available. Unknown to many users, MS Outlook, which is used by millions for e-mail, is also an easy-to-use planner. Try tinkering with its calendar to explore its useful functions for scheduling your tasks.
*Originally published by the Manila Bulletin. C-6, Sunday, January 27, 2013. Written by Ruben Anlacan, Jr. (President, BusinessCoach, Inc.) All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of the copyright holders.