Time management is about weaving a life that is aligned with what matters most to you and will lead you to the most success. It is a skill which should be taught from a very early age. You can teach your child to do this, but also apply this to your own life. Development psycologist Dr Tracey Stewart tells us how.
Managing your time effectively brings order to chaos, both in your mind and in your life! It enables you to have control over your life and to lead a happier and more successful life without feeling overwhelmed and stressed.
How to do this? After all, there are only 24 hours in each day of which an average of 8 are spent sleeping? The most successful entrepreneurs in the world all agree on the following:
Be organised: use time-saving tools like diaries, calendars and “to-do” lists. Have an organised and dedicated work station to alleviate searches for books, files and papers. Use the diary for everything, the calendar as a back-up and reminder and the “to-do” lists for short and long-term projects.
Plan ahead (schedule it and it will happen!): Determine how long your tasks will take. Consider whether any activities can be combined. Determine if big tasks can be broken down into smaller tasks that may be easier to schedule , such as studying for exams and visiting the library as part of an assignment to write a term paper.
Prioritise your tasks: Use an A-B-C rating system for items on your "to-do" lists with A items being highest priority. Set goals for both the short term and long term as to what you want to accomplish. Look at all of your "to-do"s to gauge the time requirement and whether additional resources will be needed to accomplish them (if yes, schedule time to obtain those resources). Don't postpone the small tasks (a sense of accomplishment is good and overlooked small tasks can become larger tasks.
Avoid overload: Include time for rest, relaxation, sleep, eating, exercise and socialising in your schedule. Take short breaks during study and work periods. Don't put everything off until the last minute (for example, don't cram for exams). Learn to say "no" when appropriate and to negotiate better deadlines when appropriate.
Develop and practice effective study techniques: Have an appropriate study environment. Split large tasks into more manageable tasks. Read to achieve comprehension rather than just to get to the end of the chapter. Be prepared to ask questions as they come up during study rather than waiting until just before an exam. Do the most difficult work first, perhaps breaking it up with some easier tasks. Don't wait until the last minute to complete your projects. Read the syllabus as soon as you get it and note all due dates (and "milestone" times) on your calendar.
Be a model student!: be attentive and participative in class and punctual, prepared and eager to learn
Know how to be flexible and exercise flexibility when necessary: the unexpected happens (sickness, car troubles, etc.); you need to be able to fit it into your schedule. Know how to rearrange your schedule when necessary (so it doesn't manage you - you manage it).
Know who to ask for help when needed: have a Vision (why are you doing all of this?)
Don't forget the "big picture": why are you doing the task? Is it important to your long-term personal goals? Have and follow a personal mission statement (personal and career). (Are your activities ultimately helping you achieve your goals?)
Know what is important to you: what do you value most? Put that first on your list.
And most importantly, have a positive attitude and develop a sense of humour!
Dr Tracey is an expert in developmental psychology with children. Many of her talks are available on DVD and you can find her at Headwise