24 Hours… Isn’t that what every single one of us get for each day? How is that a few people get things done and lead a life of contentment and success while the rest of us wonder where the 24 hours zapped past us leaving us reeling for the nth time; not knowing how to complete the never ending To Do lists.
What do successful people do? What miracle is that they are having up their sleeves that we don’t seem to possess? Well, I know for sure that they master one aspect, a key aspect very well…. That thing called “TIME”. The key to success is their mastery over the cant-buy-from-shop commodity, the elusive “TIME”.
If Time is such a powerful contributor for success, then why not learn to master it? After all, it is a skill we can acquire by making 1% changes each day and shedding few unnecessary practices we have given us in to.
Time management has to be looked upon in a holistic perspective; one cannot achieve the results by managing time just at work, ignoring the personal or family time and vice versa. This will result in imbalance and the happiness will still continue to elude us. Let us take a look at simple, yet time tested and proven techniques that really helps in conquering time, thereby creating a success atmosphere, personally and professionally.
- “It is not enough to be busy, so are the ants. The question is what are we busy about”– Know where your time is being spent
- “Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible” – Identify your roles and goals
- “It’s not about having time; it’s about making time” – Prioritise and schedule
Quote credits – Henry David Thoreau, Tony Robbins, Rachael Bermingham
“It is not enough to be busy, so are the ants. The question is what are we busy about” – Know where your time is being spent
In Financial astuteness to accumulate wealth, the thumb rule is primarily identifying the spending pattern and tune-up the expenses. This will result in cutting back on your unnecessary expenditures and increasing your savings. Apply this to your activities as well; everyday write a journal of what you have done. Do this for every activity from the start to end of each day. Review this journal at the end of every week, say on Sunday. This will give a fair understanding of where the time is slipping away. You will be surprised to notice that there are activities that you do gives no pleasure at all; there will be activities that you could have delegated; there are few activities that you had spent awful lot of time which could have been spent productively. You would also notice that you hadn’t spent any time on some activities that you actually want to do. But, week after week this is still happening because you are unaware doing it.
So, the first step in mastering time is to identify where your time is spent. To help you in this step, I have attached a template (a spreadsheet). Use it for recording your daily activities. Review weekly.
Now, knowing where your time is spent is one side of the coin. Knowing where you want your time to be spent is the other side of it. This brings us to the next step…
“Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible” – Identify your roles and goals
All of us don many hats during our lifetime. We are Employees / Employers, Mother / Father, Wife/Husband, Daughter/Son, Friend and of course – Individual at the same time. Unless we recognize each of the roles that we are playing and set goals that we want to achieve in each of those roles, the happiness / success / content are distant dreams. You might think why is that so? Imagine a situation where a middle-aged man, 45 years doing wonderfully in his career – who has set up a multi-billion dollar business that is doing performing well – yet, if has lost his health in the due process of achieving this, do you consider him successful? Is he happy in spite of the abundance of wealth that he has now accumulated? The answer is a straight forward No. Similarly, if someone has spent time well with family, but has ignored the professional life and repents later on the lost job or less paying one, it is still not a happy or successful life.
So, the key is identity the roles you are playing and set goals for each role. Though most of us have similar roles, each one might have a different goal. The whole idea is to run your own race.
To help you in this step, let me share my own roles and goals
Now you have an idea of roles and goals, I trust. The key is to create measurable and achievable goals. Do not have wish list statements which you cannot later quantify your progress or achievement. Also, begin with ones that you can accomplish with a slight stretch. If you set goals that isn’t making you stretch, you become complacent; if you set ones that are too hard to reach the failures will pull you down. It should be like jumping up and catching it. Not too far that you don’t try at all, neither too close that you think you can catch whenever you want – but never do.
Alright, we first understood how to find where your time is getting spent and now we have charted out what exactly you want to do. Now, the step forward is to prioritize what we want to do every day and schedule them. Let us now take the next crucial step…
It’s not about having time; it’s about making time – Prioritise and schedule
The above quote is one of my favourites. Most of us are scheduling our days, but are we doing it in the order of priority? Next time you schedule your week / day, ask yourself these questions…
Are all of these should be done by me?
Can I delegate?
Is it worth doing it?
Is this activity in my priority of items to be done?
Does this activity align with my goal?
Most of all, does it bring me joy doing this? (If not now, in the long term)
Each item should feature in your schedule, only after you have pondered over these questions and answered them affirmatively that you have a reason to do it. As important it is to plan your work week, it is equally important if not more, to plan your personal life as well. Your work out regime, your time with family, and your hobby everything should find a place in the weekly schedule. What gets scheduled, gets done. So, understand your priorities and schedule.
You might say, well, all that is fine, but how do I prioritise? Everything on my plate looks important… Here is an algorithm for you. This is a widely benefitted quadrant technique that has benefitted leaders worldwide.
The best situation is to spend mostly on Quadrant 2 activities. However, this would seem impossible to begin with. So, start with eliminating Quadrant 4 altogether and strive to bring down Quadrant 1 and Quadrant 3. We discussed in the Step 1 to review the week every Sunday. Place each of your activities in one of the quadrants to identify where you are currently. Now, after understanding the priorities spend in planning / scheduling the next week. This will give a sense of control of the week and also correct your mistakes before it’s gone too far. As Mr. Drucker puts it aptly, “There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all”.
Let me conclude the Part 1 of the article with these three steps. These are crucial three steps in mastering time management. I will urge you to take these 3 steps in your mission to conquer time. Remember, things that matter most must never be at the mercy of things that matter least. My best wishes for you to master the time and I am so eager to hear from you the feedback for the article as well as these techniques once you implement them. I will see you all soon with the Part 2 of the article, where we will speak more about how you can increase your productivity in whatever your do thereby saving time for even more activities that you wish to accomplish during your time in this planet. Until then, Adios Amigos!
Abirami is a competent professional with over a decade of experience in the Software Industry, Specialization in MS tech stack with an unbridled enthusiasm for latest technologies and Innovation. She has excellent credentials in Project Management, Business Analysis, Client handling, Development, Marketing, Process Improvement and effective People Management. A voracious reader, is strong willed and passionate about mentoring people to unlock their greatness.