Imagine your bank account was credited with $24 every day at midnight. You get the same amount every day, and you can spend the money however you want. How would you spend this money? Would you spend the entirety of the 24 dollars on buying small things for momentary pleasure like pens or chocolates? Or would you ration your money, spend it wisely on things that you need and saving the rest, so you could buy something you truly value, say an aircraft. This is the exact conundrum you face when dealing with the 24 hours given in a day. You could, of course, spend the hours watching TV Shows or doing tasks without any long term plan or simply lazing off. Or, you could plan ahead, manage your day and spend a chunk og those 24 hours doing work that would pay off in the future, your metaphorical aircraft. All of us get the same 24 hours, it is up to us if we wanna be the person who goes for short-lived pleasure, only to end up with a bunch of pens, or the person who saves and manages for the future, and ends up with an aircraft.
You would, of course, try to spend every cent of it. You would probably start with things that matter the most to you, get yourself a better life ensure that you and your loved ones have a good future. You would also spend the amount on your loved ones and things that make you happy. You would essentially try to get the maximum out of this amount. Well, if the analogy wasn’t obvious from the topic of this article I’ll spell it out for you. We are talking about time and the 86,400 seconds you get every day. Reflecting on the parallelism, you should spend these seconds on things that matter the most to you, on a better life and a good future for you and your loved ones. Try to get the most out of the limited number of seconds you get each day.
Out of all the resources that are in short supply for students and working professionals alike, time is perhaps the one that is in the shortest of supplies. Within the fixed short supply of 24 hours, we need to find time for everything, from work to family, from our favourite sports to our most loathed meetings. But since all of us get the same short supply, why are there some individuals who seem to have time to do all the things in the world while the rest of us are just thrashing in the water to barely keep ourselves afloat. The former set of individuals don’t have any superpowers that help them stay on top of things unless you consider time management skills as a superpower.
In its essence time management refers to the process of planning and managing how much time to devote to various activities. It is a very integral part of the management of professional as well as personal life. Ironically enough this is also the field where most people and workplaces are found to be slacking. They end up procrastinating and wasting time, and by extension effort, in activities such as searching for documents, meetings without clear agendas and blatant procrastination. According to DocuSign, senior management of organisations spend more than 23 hours per week in meetings, these numerous meetings can often be bunched into a couple of meetings, but due to poor time management in the organisations, these meetups take place more frequently than they are required. Employees of the organisations also end up wasting time on a number of activities, according to HumanResources an average UK employee wastes 28 minutes per day in texting and 20 minutes per day in daydreaming. This overt wasting of time can lead to a number of avoidable issues such as:-
- Disrupted Workflow
- Misplaced time and effort
- Higher Stress levels
- Poor quality of works
- Unreliable reputation
- A constant barrage of deadlines.
Now that we have discussed the implications of a poor time management system the need for better time management has become apparent. Time management system is subjective and there is no one size fits all system that would meet the needs of all individuals. With that being said there are certain tips and rules of thumb that can help you manage your time efficiently.
Start by doing a Time Audit
Before starting to plan out how and where to devote your time you need to have a realistic idea of how and where you are spending your time. For that, you need to go about your day as you normally would and take note of all the tasks you perform and the amount of time these tasks take. You would need to beware of the Hawthorne effect and make sure the day you’re auditing your time is your normal workday and you do not fall prey to the temptation of getting an ideal time audit. The time audit would give you an idea about your natural speed and efficiency, it would also give you insight into your breaks and activities that eat up your time, From there on you can evaluate the time you spent on various tasks and find and zoom into the areas of improvement and devise an efficient time management system.
Prioritise your task
There are always going to be a number of tasks that require constant attention. All the projects you’re a part of paired with your personal commitments can form a constant flurry of tasks that can overwhelm even the calmest of persons. You need to list out all the tasks that you need to complete. For this you can use the Butter app, its dashboard allows you a list view of all the tasks assigned to you along with the tasks that you have created for yourself in your to-do list. Once you have all your tasks in your place try to place the tasks in the Eisenhower Matrix according to the urgency and importance of the task. Alternatively, you can use the 4Ds of time management, outlined in “The Power of Focus, written by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, and Les Hewitt. These 4 Ds of time management namely, do, defer, delegate and delete can help you prioritise and segregate your task. Here you have to gauge the urgency and importance of tasks and assign them to a group or D
➔ Do: Tasks that are important and urgent.
➔ Defer: Tasks that are important but not urgent.
➔ Delegate: Tasks that are urgent but not important.
➔ Delete: Tasks that are neither urgent nor important
This way you can make sure that the tasks that are on top of your priority list get done first and not compromise for tasks that are perhaps not that important.
Set correct and realistic goals
It is very important to form goals you need to achieve and the tasks you need to complete. By setting correct goals we mean that the goals should not be vague and abstract, you should be able to gauge once a goal has been attained with certainty. To ensure this use the SMART method developed by George Doran, Arthur Miller and James Cunningham, i.e. set goals that are
S - Specific
M - Measurable
A - Attainable
R - Relevant
T - Timely
You should keep in mind the goals set can be achieved in the timeline you’ve assigned to them. Setting realistic goals would make sure that you are able to complete these tasks as they come along and don’t have to start your days clearing backlogs.
Create a daily plan or to-do list and plan ahead.
You should create a to-do list as you start your workday or at the end of the previous workday. Having a plan ready from the get-go would help you manage your day and breaks better. It will also keep you focused without getting too overwhelmed. There are a number of apps in the market that help you create to-do lists but we recommend the Butter app as here your team leaders and peers can assign you tasks directly from the chat and you don’t waste time switching between apps of communication and collaboration. While creating your to-do list you should keep the precious point in mind and set tasks and goals that are realistic and correct. While planning your day you need to plan ahead as well. You should have an idea of your weekly and long term goals so that way you can break those goals into daily tasks and make sure in the storm of little tasks you don’t lose sight of the big picture.
Time management in and of itself seems like a very simple thing not requiring much attention and effort and people often think that they should hit the ground running instead of taking a knee and planning their days. The truth, as we saw in the article, is far from it and taking a couple of minutes a day can help boost your efficiency by leaps and bounds. With tools such as Butter and using the techniques mentioned, you can get the most out of your day and master the superpower we talked about.