“Don’t count every hour in the day, make every hour in the day count.”
Throughout the course of history mankind has sought to develop new ways to record, track and make better use of time. From the invention of the sundial to the introduction of the modern calendar, the need to responsibly understand and manage time has been a concern to individuals, both in their professional and personal lives, for thousands of years.
Modern methods of time management incorporate various ways of recording time, to help an individual identify barriers to the effective use of time. Long and short term goal setting is encouraged. The term time management also applies to any number of methods which may be employed to help an individual organize and prioritize the goals to be accomplished.
I often wonder if I manage time or if it is managing me. I am not sure how you would really know. I have said in the past… “time un-management” time is really passing us by regardless of what we are doing….
3 Simple Tools
There are no hard and fast rules about what tools you must own, if you are going to embark on a mission to improve your time management skills. The following simple tools, however, are inexpensive, and can help make the process of tracking, planning and organizing your time easier and less burdensome.
Time Monitor Journal: This resource comes in both the digital and traditional varieties. It is useful in helping you to monitor and record your own use of time, in order to identify key areas for change. I like to recommend a person use this process for a week or two consistently; I believe that most people don’t really have a clue as to what they are spending their time on.
Sure you know that you spend time getting the kids ready for bed and then watching TV, but how much?
Planner- Available in digital and traditional formats, planners are wonderful for recording goals, making notes, keeping track of appointments and more. A planner is a must have to help you stay organized and on target, when working toward your goals.
There are many different kinds of planner, from spreadsheets to simple post it notes, you need to experiment to discover what works for you. You might have to try several different to find the perfect one for you, but it is worth the effort when you it works well for you.
Organizer- These can be useful for planning a specific project, or managing a number of projects all at the same time. Digital and traditional versions of project organizers are available that can help you stay on top of the job.
I actually like using an online tool for my organization, this allows me to access it from any place that has an internet connection, allows me to access from my computer, iPhone or iPad with ease.
When you first begin to undertake a time management program it is beneficial to record your daily activities for one week or two as I mentioned above. One option for doing this is to keep a journal or notebook with you throughout the day, for the period during which you will be doing the recording.
You can create a simple Time Monitor Journal by using both the front and back of a plain sheet of paper in your journal draw 12 rectangles, several inches wide. (You will have 6 on each side.) Each rectangle will represent an hour of time, in a typical 12 hour day. Label each rectangle with hour increments, such as 700 to 800 am for the first, 900 to 1000 am for the second, and so on. You will do this everyday for one week.
Each block is reserved for you to record the activities that you perform during that specific time period. An example of a block of time could be;
“7:00 to 8:00 am, Monday- Showered. Brushed hair, teeth. Made and ate breakfast. Dressed for work. Applied Make-up. Balanced check book. Drove to the office.”
Make notes as often as you can, and be specific in the details that you record.
At the end of the week look back through your journal and make note of any blocks of time that you could have made better use of.
Some amount of fun and quiet personal time is important to your overall health and well-being, most people forget or are too busy for this. You need to ensure balance with your personal time with your busyness. Many forget that it is just as important as dinner time.
Be on the look out for continuous blocks of time that are not being managed wisely, this is a good place to start to make some changes in your daily time management habits.
Time Management methods most often incorporate some element of the goal setting process, as a key ingredient for overall effective use of time. Whether in the personal or professional realm, goal setting is an important aspect in becoming a productive individual, who effectively manages time. Effective time management skills include setting deadlines for when you will meet your entire goals, as well as thinking through all of the small steps that you will need to take along the way.
When speaking of “goals” this term will include any number of specific tasks which need to be completed, from household chores to major business proposals. Tasks to be performed are referred to as either short, medium, or long term goals, depending on the available time the individual has to complete them.
Short term goals may be thought of as daily goals. These often include everyday chores, as well as projects which need to be completed immediately. In effective time management a list of short terms goals is formulated, and each goal on that list is completed, on a daily basis.
Medium term goals are often goals that need to be completed within one week to one month of time. Depending on the amount of time required to complete the goal, a medium term may be broken up into smaller pieces, to be accomplished daily. For instance, a project which will take 6 to 7 hours to complete can be broken into pieces, requiring only 1 hour per day.
Long term goals can reflect major undertakings, such as obtaining a college degree, building a new home, or any number of other such goals. These goals are broken down into daily, weekly, monthly and even yearly goals.
When evaluating the number of goals to be completed, planning when, exactly how you will meet your specific goals is one of the most important steps in the process.
This is when you want to pull out your Planner from above. Create you long term goals and create your short term steps to reach your big goal. Write everything in your planner. Make sure you are thinking about all your short and long term goals with an eye on the SMART methodology.
When time is viewed as a non-renewable resource it often becomes easier to understand the importance of managing it wisely. As with any resource, there is a direct relationship between the supply of, and the demand for, that resource.
As the Tim McGraw songs says “live like you are dying” we need to be more aware that life is short and can end at any time. When there is an overabundance of time, it is more easily wasted. Likewise, when there is a shortage of the resource – in this case, of time – it becomes necessary to more effectively manage even the smallest amount of it.
Beginning to effectively manage time often begins with a change in perspective regarding time. How much time to you really have? I have 12140 days left! wow, get me thinking about how I am using that time. You can check it out for yourself here.
Each day provides only a specific number of hours, minutes and seconds, in which to accomplish goals, and complete tasks. We all have the same 24 hours, it is all about how we use that time.
Are you (and I) selecting the best use of that time resource? From you Time Monitoring Journal were you able to see areas that you can change to allow for greater personal freedom and fun? or maybe you would like to start a new project or hobby that you need more time for?
So many thought provoking questions for you today so what can you do to become better at time management?
Step 1 – Complete you Time Monitor Journal for 1-2 weeks
Step 2 – Plan your long term and short term goals
Step 3 – Eliminate those time wasters that are not productive or are not a priority for you
Step 4 – Organization yourself to take advantage of the time that you have.
I love to hear what methods you use to management, plan or organize your time! Leave a comment below.
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