How to Manage Time (and how to keep it from managing you)

Time has many characteristics, some of which appear to be contradictory.  Time is both limited, and limitless.  Have you ever considered the fact that every living thing has a certain lifespan, but that time itself marches on into eternity?  Although time is a constant that stops for no one, it can be managed. 

Time is also like money—it has value, it’s difficult to come by, it’s easy to waste, and there never seems to be enough of it.  Conversely, time can be nothing like money because unlike money, each of us is allocated the same amount of it every day—24 hours.

Here’s my point:

It’s not so much a matter of how much time you have, but what you do with it.  The key to effective time management is developing a mindset.  It’s making a conscious decision to approach tasks in an organized fashion.  You need to know what you want to do and create a realistic plan to get it done. 

Before undertaking any task, I always consider the following:

  1. What task needs to be done?
  2. Who else, if anyone, is involved?
  3. When does the task need to be completed?
  4. Where do I have to go to accomplish it?
  5. How long will it take to complete the task?

 I’d like to share a few thoughts about managing time that has worked for me; hopefully, they can help you too:

 

  • Prioritize Tasks

Make a list of everything you want to accomplish on a given day and arrange them in order of importance.  Things that MUST be done are placed at the top of the list.  Tasks of lesser importance follow.

 

  • Create a Timeline

Look at your list and estimate a specific amount of time for each task.  This is where many people run into difficulty because they either under-estimate or over-estimate the time it’s going to take to complete a task.  It’s always preferable to over-estimate rather than under-estimate because any extra time can be used to review your plan, make adjustments, or take a short break.  Under-estimating adversely affects all of the other tasks on the list—in other words; you might not get to them!

 

  •  Execute

Decide on a specific time to begin and stick to it.  One of the biggest time-wasters is the attitude of indifference, which can prevent you from starting on time.  If you decide to begin at 9:00AM, then see that you start at 9:00AM.  Remember that you made a commitment to yourself—a personal contract—so be sure to keep it!  Don’t allow anyone or anything to distract you; do not procrastinate or get sidetracked.

 

  • Manage Your Progress

One of the greatest things about this life is that we develop habits (good ones, hopefully) out of necessity.  Whether we realize it or not, we are creatures of habit, and as such, we have an innate desire to achieve order and a sense of balance in our lives.

Having a process in place requires an action to be repeated over and over again.  Each time this happens, you can compare it to how well it was previously done.  Did you do it better?  Was it worse? Did it take too long?

This is how progress is measured.  It allows you to take note of what works, what doesn’t, and to make adjustments.  After adjusting your process, you’ll notice the improvements and you’ll see that you’re gradually becoming more efficient. 

 

  • Apply This New Mindset to Everyday Life

Once you’ve adopted this new method of thinking, you can easily incorporate it into every aspect of your life.  Gradually, you’ll find that you’re not only more timely, but you will have mastered one of the most important attributes a person can have.  You’ll have the ability to accomplish tasks more efficiently and in the least amount of time, with minimum effort and maximum results!

Employing good time-management skills is liberating.  It allows you to take more control of your life.  And when you control your life, you can control your destiny!

I wish you well in your time-management pursuits…give it a try because it works—you can do it!

 

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6 comments

  1. right post at right time! I’ve been struggling in managing time throughout my life. You’ve touched the essential part. But Self discipline is playing important role too.

    Hope I’ll try to catch it up soon..Good post!

    1. Anitha –

      Thanks for stopping by and thanks again for your kind words. I’ve always been taught to repect time, particularly other people’s time. I’m also very organized; some say too organized, but I find that it works for me. Keep working at it and it will get to a point where you won’t even have to think about it.

      I wish you all the best!
      Kevin

  2. Hi Kevin, I struggle with having enough time almost every moment of every day. It’s busy with 3 young kids! I have to say that I gave up on making lists and timelines because I felt that I was never succeeding in meeting them and ended up frustrated alll the time. Someone would get sick, or the baby would up all night for days on end, and then someone else would get sick!!! lol.
    I think I’ll get back there….eventually!! lol

    1. Hello Jennifer –

      Thanks for stopping by, and thanks for your reply! Often times, ‘life’ does get in the way of the best intentions. Keep at it, I know you’ll get there!

      Best,
      Kevin

  3. We often have a rather defeatist saying in our house that goes something like, “There are only 24 hours in a day …” and we say this with our palms against our foreheads. I think realizing that is one thing: then, realizing it can either be a problem or a motivator is another. I also think of Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. In that book, he talks about organizing your priorities as though they are rocks going into a jar. To fit as many rocks in the jar as you can, you put the big ones in first (the Priorities). Then, you fill in the holes with the little rocks. That image has worked so well for me in terms of staying on task.

    Thanks for your encouragement in more effectively managing our time!
    Kate

    1. Kate – Thanks for your insightful reply and thanks again for stopping by! I find that each person usually comes up with a method that works best for them. The idea of ‘one size fits all’ simply isn’t applicable. Everyone’s circumstances are different, and as such, necessitates a customized approach. I guess the important thing is that we achieve our objective, kind of like different roads leading to the same destination.

      Best of luck!

      Regards,
      Kevin

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