Time is a vital resource that enables or prevents us from accomplishing goals and living our lives in more or less satisfactory ways. It is the one resource that is absolutely finite. You can work longer hours, change jobs, or invest savings more aggressively to increase money. You can add to knowledge and skills by taking courses, talking with colleagues and reading publications. You can augment personal energy through diet and exercise. However, where do you find the time to fit all those things into a 24-hour day? Perhaps you can’t. The first rule of time management is to accept the limited quantity of this resource. Also, accept that you never can have complete control over your time. It is interrelated with other resources such as services and people. For example, you and your children all have schedules that you must accommodate.
Before you start drawing up any new schedules to follow, you should have a good idea of how you spend your time now. That gives you a place to start analyzing and making desired changes. You should also prioritize goals in order of their importance. You might want to separate your goals into “have to’s,” “ought to’s” and “want to’s.” Make sure that you attend to at least some of those “want to’s” to enhance satisfaction with time use by ensuring a balance among work, leisure, and self-nurturing activities.
Even though you can’t extend the amount of time available to you, you can reduce the time needed for various tasks. Follow these few tips and you should become more productive.
1. Rely on or develop a sense of how time passes in order to keep from letting time slip away.
2. Take advantage of your natural biorhythms by planning activities around your alert and “not so alert” periods. Productivity obviously is higher during your peak periods so use them for your demanding tasks.
3. Ensure sufficient and appropriate rest and sleep so you can improve productivity by accomplishing more within a given period of time. This tip seems paradoxical: If you didn’t have to sleep or rest, you would have that much more time to get things done. However, sleep deprivation and going without breaks decreases alertness and effectiveness. Thus, by skipping sleep and rest, you actually squander your time!
4. Vary activities to avoid boredom and reduce resentment about having to do some tasks over other preferred ones. Make sure not to plan too much variety in a day since time may be wasted by interrupting momentum.
5. Take advantage of your work production curve. With each new activity, workers experience warming up phases followed by plateaus of high productivity. After a while, the plateau declines and you find yourself getting less done or your mind wandering.