I used the word time management in my previous article, and the more I thought about it the more I disliked the phrase. The thing is that it isn’t so much about managing time, but rather managing your own activities effectively. The real issue though is that we do all only have 24 hours each day in which we often have to manage a great deal of activity. Time management is in essence managing your activities effectively within an allocated amount of time. We can’t really dismiss the time element at all.
Managing your activities effectively is not about being busy all the time; it’s about doing the right things better. In order to do this an element of planning is needed, but we really don’t need to stick to a corporate style of time management which often entails rigid to do lists, in which every minute of every day is preset for a specific activity. As individuals we need to feel we have the freedom of choice as we go about our day. What you have to remember though, is that together with freedom always comes responsibility and that responsibility is primarily towards yourself.You have to take responsibility for reaching your dreams and for how you allocate your time in order to do so.
An important aspect of time management is to always be aware that although everything in your life is important, not everything is equally important. Just to live, we have to be able to drink water, eat and breathe – and that doesn’t exactly take up that much time does it? What this illustrates is that the most important activities needn’t be those for which you allocate the most amount of time.
Firstly, you need to understand where your time goes, and not allow those time wasters to seduce you. Remember, that your priority is to live your dream. You will know that the wily and sly seductive ways of time wasting has gotten hold of you when you find yourself doing the following:
1. Checking your email incessantly – there is no written rule that email gets priority over everything else. (Unless of course you’re in an email support business). Allow yourself a couple of times a day to check your email and to respond to any that need a response.
2. Sitting in front of the TV watching a show that you’re not even interested in. Keep the TV off and only switch it on to watch a specific program.
3. Going to the shops every day to get the basics. Plan what you’ll need for a few days. You don’t HAVE to have hot oven baked bread each and every day – especially when there are more exciting things (like living your dream) that are more important to you.
4. Cleaning continuously throughout the day. Sometimes small tasks done on the spot can save time in the long run, but you don’t have to sweep the kitchen floor each and every time you spot a speck of dirt, and you don’t have to prop the cushions every time someone gets up.
5. Going to the shopping mall just to “look for any bargains” – shop with a purpose. Yes, by all means shop around for certain purchases, but whilst you’re looking for bargains chances are that you’re going to be tempted into buying a “bargain” you don’t need, and you end up losing on two counts. (Time and money!)
6. You panic when your cell phone isn’t within reaching distance – cellphones are wonderful items, but having a cell phone doesn’t mean that you have to take every call, every time, or that you have to have to stop whatever it is you’re doing because your friend has decided to have a sms conversation at that particular moment. Use the caller id feature effectively by screening calls. Let a call go to voice mail if you’re in the middle of doing something and call the person back when it’s convenient for you. Listen to the voice message before calling back – you might not even need to call the person back, or you could do whatever the caller might have required of you and then phone back with the correct information.
These are only a few things you can do to use your time more effectively. Regularly ask yourself the following questions during the day: “Am I managing my activity effectively?” “How can I improve the time spent on this particular task?” and “What has distracted me throughout the day, and how can I eliminate or manage those distractions?” Remember to always keep the bigger picture in mind – you are consciously making decisions during the day that lead you to living your dream.
Read the next article in this series: Time to recap!