Time management, an ethic of antiquity, has become a rather loosely used phrase in contemporary times. People from all walks of life – disciplinarians, lethargy lovers, successful and the unlucky ones – have their own two cents to give on how to manage time. But as Forbes contributor Ann Latham points out, what most of them get wrong is “You can’t manage time, you can only manage yourself. As long as you focus on managing time – searching for systems, lists, and tools – you are ignoring the real issue: how to manage yourself.” In this article, we will explore and understand some of the more inclusive, adaptable, and easy-to-become-habit ways of managing time.
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- Poor prioritising skills: Most of us today would like to do everything at the same time. Mothers want to feed their children, wash vessels, dry clothes, go shopping, organise dinners, and plan the next day with the first breath they take in the morning. Working professionals, who treat their work as their baby, are no different from the overstrained mother figure. They want to start early, finish early, make friends, extinguish animosity attend phone calls, write emails, do projects simultaneously, diet and indulge all at the same time. The problem lies in our inability to prioritise. Ann Latham points out in a cold and straight-forward manner, “Priorities are those top few tasks that deserve attention next. If you have too many, you have none. You have to know your top few priorities at any time.” So, get your act together along with your priorities and you will realise that life in any other way is simple unliveable.
- Be a realist: You are not a superhuman. It doesn’t matter who told you so – media, movies, best friend or your colleague. When you understand that consciously, you realise there are limits that your mind and body are restricted to. It doesn’t make you a lesser human but a thoughtful, reasonable one. When you approach everyday task as a bird approaches building a nest, you will know that things take time – that overworking yourself is not the same as outdoing yourself. When you are a realist, you bite only as much as and only that which you can chew. This brings to our next
- Say no: According to writer Jordon Bates, “At some point, you need to learn to decline opportunities. Your objective should be to take on only those commitments that you know you have time for and that you truly care about.” If there is no honesty in your politeness or simply put, if you are saying ‘yes I can’ simply because you are unable to say, ‘no I can’t’ means you are inviting trouble you aren’t quite equipped to deal with. When you say no, you assert your right to decline that which will come in way of your time and its management.
- Undo your to-do: have you ever wondered why to-do list run into pages? It’s because it’s simply a mirror to our clogged minds where work has jumbled up and clouded better sense and sadly, even our most basic abilities. To-do lists come to no good when they don’t entail EVERYTHING that you plan to accomplish in say, the next six hours. Ann Latham makes a valid point when she says, “Not only are your lists crazy long, they are incomplete. Think about it. Have you included enough time for meetings, email, and phone calls? Questions from customers and staff? Time to sleep, eat, exercise, relax, and call your mother? Or rebooting, correcting credit card expiration dates, and sitting on hold? Everything. Now how do those total hours look? Face it, there are not enough hours in a day!” not only this, when you catch yourself staring at the undone to-do list at the end of the day, it sets off a chain reaction of gloom, inefficiency, and self-loathing.
- Be conscious of time spent online: This point is more a reminder than a revelation. Most employees are guilty of spending way too much on the internet – what starts as a five-minute digital break often ends up in a two-hour work There is no other way to term this than an addiction that creates an ever-widening ocean between our productive and futile self. In the IOT, internet is not only what you make it but what it makes you – an idler or creator. The choice, like always is yours to make.