The successful individual understands and appreciates the value of time. Time is one of our precious resources that is rarely valued as it should be. Time management is having control over our time. We can’t stop time or reverse it, but we can use it to our advantage.
There are thousands of resources on time management available; however, most I have come across seem to be written by employers wanting to maximize their profits by getting more work out of their employees. I believe to be a true master of time you must realize how valuable this skill is in the achievement of your own success. Mastering your time, not just managing it, will bring you the following benefits:
- Increase your personal productivity. Imagine getting twice as much done each day as you do now without working any harder or longer. How much would that be worth to you? This is not only possible, but it can be expected when you become a true master of your time.
- Relieve stress. One of the main reasons so many people suffer from stress is that they feel their lives are disorganized. They often feel “under the gun” and like they have too much to do and too little time to do it. People often feel like they are constantly playing catch-up rather than forging ahead. They feel like they are just “spinning their wheels” while not getting anywhere. Does any of this sound familiar? With any of these feelings, how could one not be stressed? Once you master your time, these feelings, and the associated stresses, will be history.
- Forge ahead. This is the main benefit that most time management books, lecturers, and resources fail to get across to their audiences. When you master your time, you have the time needed to work on your life purpose. You can no longer make excuses (by this time you should not be making excuses anyway) that you “have not got the time.” You have the same 24 hours in a day as Bill Gates has—the difference is how you choose to spend your time. Forging ahead is making the time for what you are passionate about doing while still doing the things you need to do to pay the bills. This is something that all successful people must do.
There are many benefits associated with traditional time management; however, they are beyond the scope of this lesson. Forging ahead alone should be enough motivation for you to reevaluate how you spend your time.
Here are some good time management techniques that act as the foundation of time mastery.
- Catalog your time. Make a log of what you do in the average day. Do this for about a week.
- Eliminate wastage from your day. Stop doing the things that bring you no benefit whatsoever. You will be surprised how many you will find in your day.
- Make “to do” lists. Prioritize your activities and assign a time to each as to how long it will take. This will help you begin the activities you know you have time to finish.
- Schedule calls. Set aside time for both incoming and outgoing calls. Phone calls can interrupt your workflow. Once you are interrupted from a productive mental state of mind, it is often difficult to get back into that state of mind and productivity suffers.
- Learn to say “no.” Saying no in advance to extra work is much easier than having to apologize later for not being able to complete something on time. Refuse excessive workloads.
- Do not neglect long-term projects. Just because they may not be due soon, they will be due eventually. Working on these projects often will save you from the last minute crunch that causes stress.
- Be decisive. Make decisions quickly. It is important to have enough information to make an informed decision, however, too often people do not know what “enough” is and hold off on making decisions. Most of the time, a poor decision is better than no decision.
- Deal with e-mail effectively. Make use of spam filters to stop from having to read the garbage that comes to your inbox. Create sub-folders to organize your incoming e-mail, but be sure to keep the things that need your attention in the short term in your inbox. Once you file it away, it is often neglected.
- Don’t procrastinate. Procrastination is putting off until tomorrow what you should be doing today. This is so important that I have devoted a whole day to it later in this course. For now, just do your best not to put things off.
Time management skills are the foundation for time mastery. They are to be used in conjunction with time mastery skills for maximum benefit. Tomorrow, we will discuss the techniques and practices of time mastery.