We have a list of urgent jobs, people to contact, and our priorities. Some meetings scheduled to finish by mid-morning ramble on until lunch time and gradually, the day begins to slip away. So, once again, we stay late in the office or at night, in order to finish what we should have achieved by 5.00pm. Sometimes, we have wished for a 34-hour day instead of a 24-hour day.
We have always believed that this extra time would relieve the tremendous pressure under which we live. These sound very familiar to you? it is hardly surprising. When we actually stop to evaluate, we would realize that our dilemma goes deeper than shortage of time, it is basically the problem of priorities. A director once told his subordinate manager, “Your greatest failure is letting the urgent crowd out the important.” This raises the critical questions of priorities in our daily lives.
How to make best use of your time
Control your time
It cannot be accumulated. You cannot turn it on or off. It cannot be replaced. It has to be spent at the rate of 60 seconds every minute. Experience and studies have shown that most managers have massive potential for further achievement. To realize this potential, they need not necessarily work longer hours. What is necessary is a clearer understanding of the most important elements the job and a working method that helps use time more effectively and above all, manage more effectively.
Evaluate how you use your time
Analyzing how you presently use time is the first step to achieving better control of it. For you to improve on the use of tour time, you must first have specific and reliable information/data on how you presently utilize your time. Once you have this, you would then be able to determine the necessity, appropriateness and efficiency of the use of your time.
Most times we crowd ourselves with unnecessary tasks, just keeping old clothes in our closets and refusing to give them out. At other times, we keep tasks that we can easily delegate to others thereby crowding our desks and ourselves with too much workload. This does not make us better managers, in fact, it makes us poor managers of subordinates as by this process, we are not developing our direct reports which is a key task for a manager. Also, we believe in maintaining the status quo, with no willingness for innovation and change
Setting goals with time
When considering a daily schedule, it is a good idea to keep your energy circle in mind. Some people are at their best, early in the morning. For example, some people are at their best in the morning while others peak during the day. Try as much as possible to plan your daily schedule to fit your prime time.
Time cannot be manufactured so you must decide what to do and not to do, and when to do. Some may fall in this category because of management directives, important customer requirements, or significant deadlines. They may contribute to improved performance but are not essential or have critical deadlines. They could be eliminated, postponed or scheduled for slack periods. Only good planning will allow you to reap the benefits of time wisely invested. The task of ensuring that the most important work is completed each day rests solely on you.
Criteria for setting priorities
You are the only one who can ensure that the most important work is completed each day as well as manage yourself and time more productively. You can organize your way to business and personal success
- becoming the best judge of what you have to do.
- comparing your tasks and activities and assigning hierarchies.
- determining start time and possible deadlines.
Common time wasters
It is part of being human to waste time. Some wasted time can be constructive because it helps you to relax or reduce tension. However, some wasted time can be frustrating especially when you are doing something less important than what you might otherwise be doing. The question is what else might you be doing that is of a higher personal priority? Taking a break, communicating with associates or colleagues, talking on the phone or browsing the internet. These are not exactly time wasters unless they keep you from your primary tasks and responsibilities.
Even when you are well organized and making effective use of time, there will always be interruptions and distractions from extraneous sources. However, you can handle some of them effectively.
You could try to cram more hours into an already congested day, but the day is never going to get longer. The solution is to develop more efficient ways of utilizing your time. Determine the essential elements of your job, isolate time wasters and deal with them. Do not wish for a 30-hour day as it will never come!