Time Management: History and Concepts
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WARMING UP TO THE CONCEPT OF TIME
"Now go on and enjoy yourself, dance to your heart's content and win the Prince's heart. But remember, you have to be back before the clock strikes twelve at midnight."
We all are familiar with the words of the Fairy God Mother in the evergreen fairy tale 'Cinderella'. It's these words that probably made us aware-for the first time in our lives-of the value of time. We all sympathized with Cinderella when all her splendid gown and other finery turned to rags at the stroke of midnight. Our first acquaintance with the villainous Time!
But then, is time such a villain, who should always be painted in black? We have heard the proverb that says "there are no wounds that time cannot heal." Here of course we get the image of a wizened old woman who comes hobbling up to us with a pitcher full of balm and gentle fingers that soothe away all our pains and sorrows.
But that's enough! This project was not made to sing the praises of time. There is no need of the romance of Cinderella or the soothing finger of an old lady when we are talking about time. And do you know why? It's because we do not have the time for it.
We are going to try and understand time in its many faces. No, I was not referring to the faces of watches or clocks. I was referring to the many meanings that time has. Oh yes it does! You thought that time meant the same to everyone. Well think again; or maybe you could try to explain the logic behind the following cases.
Picture a farmer who plants a sapling of a tree that would probably take ten to twelve years to reach the stage when it would start to bear fruit, by then the farmer would in likelihood be under the soil himself.
Picture a jailbird in bird counting on the bars of his cell waiting for the seconds, minutes, and hours, days, weeks, months and years to go by before he can be free again.
Now picture a young couple madly in love with each other cherishing the few minutes they get to spend with each other every day, cursing time because it flies so fast when they are together and never the other way round.
So what does time mean to you? When was the last time that you realized the value of time?
The answer is probably the last time you watched one of those Bollywood thrillers in which the hero is driving a car in which a time-bomb has been planted and the hero is unaware of this. But we being the getting-to-see-it-all audience watch with bated breath as the tiny needle of the timer ticks towards the point at which the explosion is sure to occur.
But just before that, the hero hits the brakes screeches to a halt to avoid hitting that old lady crossing the road. And when he jumps out to help her cross the road the needle reaches the point and the bomb is exploded. And our hero is safe. It's funny how the hero always escapes without a scratch in these movies. But I expect that's why they call them heroes.
Now we are really transgressing aren't we? So back to our subject that is Time Management. Do you know what is interesting about the concept of Time? It is absolutely uncontrollable.
Personally I believe that there is something very humbling about this concept. Just imagine a man with all his power is just like a helpless babe before time. There it is Time stands tall and strong before man and man remains vulnerable and weak before it. Man, the big strong man who tamed rivers and seas, who reached out to the skies and beyond, who harnessed wind and water and dug up the bowels of the earth is but a worm before Time.
The best he can do to win the battle against time is die is hair and use some anti-wrinkle cream on his face. In fact, the closest that man has got towards conquering time is those many history books that have been penned; they are of course chronicles of events that happened long ago and that is certainly not much to boast about.
And so now we come to our subject that is time management because after all the illustrations given above, I hope that I have made one point clear, that is that Time cannot be controlled, it can only be managed. And that is what we are going to do. We are going to learn the art of time management. I don't want you to have an air of helplessness. You might begin to feel that if the battle cannot be won, then what is point in putting up a struggle? Ah, but there you are missing out on a very important point. In all the illustrations that I used above, I was referring to man in general and not to one particular Tom, Dick or Harry.
So you can see that this aspect of time is applicable to every human being and there is no running away from it. Every person has only twenty four hours in a day and no force on earth can alter that. So in order to get the cutting edge what you have to do is to be able to manage your time in the most effective way possible. And that is what Time management is all about. It's about managing your time effectively and if I may I would like to add the word efficiently too.
Now, when we talk about our resources, everyone knows that we are referring to the resources like fossil fuels, forests, mineral wealth, and water bodies and so on. But surprisingly time is never included in this list. When we talk about non-renewable resources, fossil fuels like coal, petroleum and natural gas top the list. But what about time? A point that most people tend to forget is that time is the most valuable resource that we have, and time once lost, is lost forever. We can think about alternate sources of energy for fossil fuels like electricity, fuel cells, solar energy and the research goes on. But is there any alternative for time that is lost.
Again I stress on the point that time once lost, is lost forever. And hence we have the proverb, "time and tide waits for no man."
HISTORY OF TIME MANAGEMENT
The idea of time management has been in existence for more than 100 years. Unfortunately, the term "time management" creates a false impression of what a person is able to do. Time can neither be managed, nor controlled. We can only manage ourselves and our use of time.
History of time management dates back to the 6th century AD with the St. Benedictine Monks who "emphasized and encouraged scheduled activities at all times." The concept of time efficiency was introduced by Scottish Economist Adam Smith who developed an assembly line system for factory workers. Benjamin Franklin is considered by many to be the father of modern time management. He mostly emphasized on the effective use of time. Franklin carried around a "little black book" wherever he went, and within it, he wrote about his thirteen virtues. Each night he would reflect upon the day's activities to judge whether he had lived up to these core values.
These values were as follows:
UNDERSTANDING TIME MANAGEMENT
"We all have time to either spend or waste and it is our decision what to do with it. But once passed, it is gone forever."
- Bruce Lee ("Zen in the Martial Arts" by Joe Hyams)
Every individual on earth has the same amount of time - 60 seconds in a minute; 60 minutes in an hour; 1,440 minutes in a day; and 525,600 minutes in a year. While a vast majority of people confesses faltering to come to grips with it, extremely few can claim to have made the most of it. How is it that they have got it all done? It's because they have managed a way to figure out how to manage their time effectively.
Time Management is more than just managing time. It is about controlling the use of the most valuable - and undervalued - resource. It is managing oneself in relation to time. It is setting priorities and taking charge of the situation and time utilization. It means changing those habits or activities that cause waste of time. It is being willing to adopt habits and methods to make maximum use of time.
With good time management skills one is in control of one's time, stress and energy levels. One can maintain balance between one's work and personal life. One finds enough flexibility to respond to surprises or new opportunities. It is not how much time one has, but rather the way one uses it. The bottom line is how well one manages time.
Internationally known authority on time management Dr. Alec Mackenzie in his book The Time Trap argues that the very idea of time management is a misnomer because one really cannot manage time in the way other resources can be managed: financial capital, physical capital, human capital, information and time. While each of the first four can be augmented, reduced, transferred or otherwise controlled, Time cannot be manipulated.
Dr. Mackenzie contends that when it comes to time, one can only manage oneself in relation to it. One cannot control time as one can control other resources - one can only control how one uses it. In the world in which we live, time cannot be replaced or re-created. It is therefore not for us to choose whether we spend or save time but to choose only how we spend it.
MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT TIME
There are several misconceptions which we all have about time. They affect everyone including those persons who may be considered quite successful and effective. Here are some of the misconceptions identified by Dr. Mackenzie:
· Time management is simple - all it requires is common sense. While it is true that the concept is simple, the self-discipline required to practice effective time management is not easy.
· Work is best performed under pressure. Psychological studies show this to be no more than an excuse for procrastination. One does not work well under pressure - only does the best one can under the circumstances. Pressure and challenge must not be confused. Lara's performance when the West Indies Team is in trouble has more to do with application and determination rather than pressure.
· I use a diary, a to-do list and have a secretary to keep me organized. One has to keep oneself organized - no one can do it for others. The trouble with the disorganized person is that he hardly has time to listen to his secretary or look at his diary.
· I do not have the time. The effective worker or manager often gets more work done in the earlier hours of the morning than most laggards get done in the whole day. He then no longer has to work against tight deadlines and under stress which contributes to heart problems and not unusually the ultimate reduction of time on this earth.
· Time management might be good for some kinds of work but my job is creative. Time management is not about routine: it is about self-discipline. Lack of discipline prevents one from being great instead of simply good.
Time management takes away the fun and freedom of spontaneity. Is working under stress, forgetting appointments, making constant excuses and apologies to be fun? Would it not be much more fun if by better organization one had one or two more hours every day to spend with the family, to play games, read a good book, plan for tomorrow and the day and week after or just relax?
WHY IS TIME MANAGEMENT SO IMPORTANT?
Time management is a common problem faced by most of us. Oftentimes, when you are swarmed with multiple tasks at once, it becomes extremely difficult to identify which ones you must complete first. Too often, people eat up what is supposed to be their free time to be able to accomplish all pending tasks in time. It takes a considerate amount of skill in order to manage your time properly. If you are one of these people, you are usually able to control your time efficiently that you can even finish tasks ahead of time. Let's try to analyze the importance of Time Management in different fields.
Time Management in School/College: Due to more freedom merited to college students, it can become quite challenging for new (freshman) students to cope with time management. The liberty to choose your own schedule readily creates a false notion that they can do whatever they want. On the other hand, it reflects one's priorities and how you are able to properly appropriate them into your schedule. With lack of proper time management, a student will have trouble coping up with deadlines set by professors. Most students would tend to slack off during vacant hours that they end up accomplishing nothing. If a student has prepared his or her own list of work for the day, he or she will be able to properly allocate the time spent for extracurricular activities and assignments.
Time Management at Work: When it comes to your job, proper usage of your time is more particular. This is because you are paid for the hours of service you render to the firm. Hence, companies will try to ensure that each hour you spend at the office is utilized effectively for work. Despite of this, employees still seek out ways to have a break. If time is not properly managed, employees could easily eat up more time for their "breaks" than what is actually spent on actual work. Hence, the company ends up requiring the employee to do overtime work just to finish a project. If the overtime rendered is reflected on your paycheck, then good for you. But if not, then you reap the unpleasant effects of poor time management.
SYMPTOMS OF POOR TIME MANAGEMENT
Poor time management shows up by way of one or a combination of typical perceptible symptoms. Managers would do well to look for and reflect on whether they are subject to any of those symptoms with a view to take necessary corrective actions.
The following are some of the indicators of poor time management:
- Constant rushing (e.g. between meetings or tasks)
- Frequent delays (e.g. in attending meetings, meeting deadlines)
- Low productivity, energy and motivation (e.g. 'I can't seem to get worked up about anything')
- Frustration (e.g. 'Oh, things just don't move ahead)
- Impatience (e.g. 'where the hell is that information I've asked him for?')
- Chronic vacillation between alternatives (e.g. 'whichever option I choose it is going to put me at a big disadvantage. I don't know which way to jump')
- Difficulty setting and achieving goals (e.g. 'I'm not sure what is expected of me')
WHERE DOES ALL THE TIME GO?
It is quite surprising when you sit and think about where all the time in one day goes. Twenty four hours is really a lot of time. But on most days it scarcely seems enough. But this is because of certain misconceptions about time. Let us proceed to carefully examine where all that time goes and find out if twenty four hours really is. For that I have listed out certain points which will help you to get a realistic view about how much time you really have in a day.
We do not really get twenty four hours in a day. Maybe it's because we always talk about the twenty four hours in a day, we get the feeling that we really do have twenty four hours to finish our daily business and the fact is that we do not. Assuming that you hit the sack at least by twelve in the night and taking for granted the fact that you need at least seven hours of sleep; let me fix your waking time at seven in the morning.
That means that you have already lost seven hours, which we can deduct from twenty four, giving us only seventeen waking hours. Waking hours does not mean the hours you take to wakeup but the hours that you are awake. So let us get that straight, we have only 17 hours in a day. Now if you think that all those seventeen hours can be used for productive work, you are wrong again. For this come to the next point.
The seventeen waking hours cannot be used completely for productive work. There are many things that a human being should do in order to continue to live like a human being and some of these things do take up a lot of time. Now the following list that I have drawn up is sure to vary from person to person. But I have taken the times for each action on what I felt to e reasonable times as far as any normal human being is concerned.
- Taking a shower.
Most of us take a shower at least once in a day and the time I think we can put down for that is ten minutes. For those of you cleaner ones who shower twice a day put that as twenty minutes.
- Answering the call of nature
Oh yes, we are all very cultured people who have the best of manners and upbringing. We dress ourselves properly and conduct ourselves with the utmost poise. But there are several times in a day when we have to go back to nature and summing up all those things we do in the bath room I think a good half hour should be enough.
- Getting ready and tidying ourselves
When we move about in society definitely we have to look our best and adding up all the minutes that we spend in front of that mirror, we get another ten minutes. For some people of course, this figure comes up to half an hour. But I think ten minutes is good enough.
We need to eat to live and though I accept the fact that people have different eating habits and times, I think that and I'm sure doctors will agree with me that a person needs three meals a day and should take at least ten minutes to ingest a meal and not just gobble it down. So that makes it 30 minutes for food.
- Time to relax
Please do not raise an argument now. I promise to deal with this bit later on. But right now I would like to put down one hour as the time to relax, and this includes the time that you get to yourself for prayer or meditation or just to stare out of your window or perhaps the few extra minutes that you spend in your bed after waking up, waiting for the last traces of sleep to go away.
- Time with family and friends
Please we are human beings, aren't we? And we certainly cannot get along with our business of life without chatting a few minutes every now and then with our friends and the family too. So with your permission, I would like to deduct another hour from your waking time.
So now what do we have left?
We started off with 17 hours of waking time. And we proceed to add up all the time that we accounted for in the above mentioned points; let us see how much time we have left for productive work provided we still want to exist as human beings.
The activities mentioned above would take when put together a good three hours and twenty minutes. That is 3 hours and 20 minutes. I put it down in both numerals and words so that you can get a real taste of the figure. Now if we proceed to subtract this figure from our 17 hours of waking time, what do we get? We are left with just thirteen hours forty minutes. In figures that is 13 hours 40 minutes. And that is a fact. That is all that we get. So from now on don't you think that it would be more realistic to say that we have just thirteen hours and forty minutes to accomplish a day's work and not twenty-four hours. For if we continue to believe that we have twenty four hours, and then we are in effect deceiving ourselves. But wait there is more to this story than meets the eye. These crucial hours that we have painstakingly added up are not really put to constructive use. There are certain things called time waster which you have to look out for and that is what we are going to deal within our next chapter.
Till now, we have been harping about how valuable time is and how time lost is time lost forever and so on. But now we come to a strange concept and that is 'Time Killers'. The very word sound like sacrilege doesn't it? How can one talk about killing such a valuable resource. But that's the way the story goes. Thee are a lot of time killers in this world and what you have to do is that you have to identify these time killers, look out for them and stay wary of tem. Only then can you put your available time to the maximum possible use.
The time killers that I have listed below are more or less general. They are things that most of us encounter. But apart from these, each one of us may have unique time killers that are particular to our style of living and way of work. Be smart and identify these killers. When I talk about killers, do not get the impression of masked men lurking in shadows brandishing guns and knives. The killers that I am referring to are quite ordinary every day things that we see and use in our lives but often do not realize how much of our time they take away.
Seven terrible Time Killers
- Telephone calls
- Chatter boxes
- Traffic jams
- Finding parking spaces
- Bad machinery
- Long queues
The list could of course go on. But before we keep adding to the list, I would like to elaborate on certain of the items listed above.
How to handle Time Killers
• The funny thing about telephone calls is that these instruments are indeed great time savers. In fact the amount of time that people get to save thanks to telephones is stupendous. The problem arises when telephones are not used properly. Most people do not understand and even if they do they forget that telephones are not to be used for lengthy conversations. For one thing, another person may be trying to reach you and there is nothing as exasperating as trying to reach a person over the telephone and being confronted with a busy tone. So the first thing about a telephone conversation is that it should be brief.
Another thing about telephones is that most people do not know how to use a telephone properly. In stead of immediately identifying themselves and asking directly for the person they want, some people go on playing a lot of "who is speaking" games once they make a call or answer the telephone.
Now coming to mobile phones there is a lot to be said and done. What should be done is turn off your cell phone when you are having a conversation or a discussion with more than one person. As soon as you get a call, you may ask the people you were talking to excuse yourself but you leave them waiting while you chuckle and giggle over your phone. Often we tend to give ore importance to the caller than to the person we were having the discussion with. Again the same rule applies here. Be brief. A mobile phone is to be used to get an important message across to a person who you were not able to reach on the land line.
* The next point is about those chatter boxes. Haven't we all met them? They simply love the sound of their own voices and once they open their mouths, there is no stopping them. They waste not only your time but their time as well. Steer clear of such people. Believe me, it is much easier to avoid such people than to tell them to shut up and if you get a telephone call from such a person, use a caller ID facility or ask your secretary to divert the call.
· Traffic jams and finding parking spaces. Any one who has lived in the city for at least a day will know what I am talking about. There is no getting past a traffic jam at the rush hour. And will someone tell me whit is called the rush hour when that is the time when the traffic is the slowest.
The only thing you can do is anticipate the traffic jam and leave your home a half hour or one hour early. But that does not really keep the time killer at bay. It just helps you to avoid being late. In this respect you have two options. Either you could find something constructive to do while you wait for the traffic to move along or the traffic light to change or a better option would be to take subway and walk the rest of the way. You can get a long a lot faster on your feet and it is a lot better for your health as well. By doing so, you can also get rid of the headache of finding a parking space.
· Not surprisingly lengthy meetings and discussions can prove to be awful time killers particularly if the meeting does not have a clear agenda and if there are people who love top talk among the group. It has been found that most middle and senior level mangers spend nearly 70% of their work time talking. And in most organizations, parleying has been made into a fine art.
* Bad machinery is a time waster. How many of us have wanted to sit and scream and bang the daylights out of a pc that does not give us the required data or information. A computer that takes a long time to start up, a photocopier that gives shamefully faint photocopies, even a leaky faucet or a stubborn drawer or door knob can waste a lot of time and send us up the wall. If you have such equipment or machinery, get it changed at the earliest possible date. It is worth the amount of time and energy that you waste on it every day.
* Long queues certainly waste a lot of time. That does not mean that you have to jump the queue. If you can get the job done over the telephone or can reserve your ticket in advance, do it, even if it means a few extra dollars, it is worth the time you may have to spend waiting.
Apart from these each person may have particular time wasters, like for instance, a car that refuses to start in the morning, difficult hair that insists on looking like Medusas head on a bad snake day, an elevator that takes forever to reach your floor. Use your common sense and try to find alternate methods or even better, if you cannot find an alternate method, you could put the time to some use like read your morning paper in the elevator.
You will get a better idea of how to get over time killers once we handle the section called the time savers.
Lining Up Your Ducks: Prioritize!
"Lining up your ducks" is a familiar and charming phrase. It derives from the tendency of baby ducklings to swim in a perfectly straight line behind their mother. If the ducklings begin to stray too far, the mother duck will invariably "shepherd" them back into line—thus, "getting her ducks in a row."
The application of this phrase to time management is clear. If you deal with things in a logical, orderly sequence, you're sure to bring efficiency and results to your efforts. When your "ducks" begin to stray too far afield, danger is lurking—for them and for you.
Let's face it. 24 hours in a day is not enough time for many people to do everything in their schedule. It is therefore imperative that people perform their activities in the order of priority. Time management experts like Stephen Covey S R (The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People; Simon & Schuster) have developed a model called a time management matrix.
This model enables managers to prioritize their activities and use their time more effectively. With the help of the model, they can evaluate their activities in terms of importance and urgency.
The art of prioritizing covers 4 major task groups:
- Important and Urgent
- Not Important but Urgent
- Not Urgent but Important
- Not Important and Not Urgent
TIME MANAGEMENT MATRIX
Important and Urgent
Quadrant 1 represents things which are both urgent and important - labeled "firefighting". The activities need to be dealt with immediately, and they are important.
These tasks are the ones that must be done right away, or consequences may result. An example would be bills that are due today. If you don't pay your bills on time, you would incur additional charges or they might cut off their services to you. Activities belonging to this category need to be acted upon without delay. You should give them the highest priority.
Important but Not Urgent
Quadrant 2 represents things which are important, but not urgent - labelled "Quality Time". Although the activities here are important, and contribute to achieving the goals and priorities - they do not have to be done right now. As a result, they can be scheduled when they can be given quality thought to them.
A good example would be the preparation of an important talk, or mentoring a key individual. Prayer time, family time and personal relaxation/recreation are also part of Quadrant 2.
Urgent but Not Important
Quadrant 3 represents distractions. They must be dealt with right now, but frankly, are not important. For example, when a person answers an unwanted phone call, - he/she has had to interrupt whatever he/she is doing to answer it.
Not Important and Not Urgent
Quadrant 4 represents Time Wasting. You might think activities in this section are not worth people's time, so they won't engage in these activities much. You would be surprised to know that people spend most of their time doing things that are both unimportant and non-urgent, such as watching TV and movies, playing video games, senseless chatting for hours on the phone, shopping for new clothes, etc.
Of course, it is essential for people to relax and unwind once in a while.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy," as they say. But you should be strict in limiting your time for these activities; that is, if you really want to accomplish a lot in your life.
Treat activities belonging to this section with the lowest priority. If you really want to succeed, strictly limit your time in doing these activities or don't do them at all. Focus on those that will bring you fruitful results.
Numbered Priority Tactic
Here's one of the most powerful techniques that you can use to manage your time efficiently - the Numbered Priority Tactic.
Buy a very small notebook that you can put in your pocket. You should be able to bring it anywhere you go. At the front page of the notebook, put the title: Important and Urgent. At the back page, put the title: Important but Not Urgent.
If an idea or event you encounter is Urgent but Not Important, then forget it. You want to utilize your time well, won't you? If you think it's significant in some way, then you may put it under Important and Urgent. Ignore Not Important and Not Urgent tasks.
Every time something comes up during your daily work or on your mind, put it in the appropriate page of your little notebook. So let's say your boss told you to submit a report due tomorrow. Write it down on your notebook under Important and Urgent. Then your friend told you that there's a big 2-day sale at the downtown furniture store. You may put it under Important and Urgent if you simply must have that furniture you're drooling for months. But if you think your house would do fine without it, then don't write it anymore. As you're walking down the street you suddenly thought of a great new idea for your part-time business. You may put it under Important but Not Urgent.
As the day goes on, write down each and every idea, thought, or event that comes to your mind. As the list increases in each category, examine each of them carefully and start numbering each item in the order of priority - with 1 being the highest priority. Start working on Number 1, and never go to Number 2 until you're done with Number 1 for each category. If distractions come about, you may take care of them first but always come back to your numbered list when you're done.
Because priorities may change, you may switch or change the numbers of the items in the list. You may also transfer one item from Important and Urgent to Important but Not Urgent, and vice-versa. When you do any changes, make sure your notebook stays clean. Transfer your writings to a new page when you see that it's getting untidy. Start off with a new page every day.
This method can enable you to achieve more in one week than what most people can accomplish in a month. The important thing you must do is to buy that little notebook and to start doing this super tactic right now! Time is running fast.
Pareto's Principle or the 80/20 Rule
It was developed in the 19th century. The principle states that 80 percent of our unfocused effort generates only 20 percent of our end results, and that 80 percent of our results are achieved from 20 percent of the overall energy expended. Many students and professionals spend the day in a frenzy of activity, but achieve very little of their desired results because they are not concentrating on the right things. In the 1950s, the focus was on the manager and his organization skills. Later in that decade, James McKay authored the first book on time management.
Stephen R. Covey describes the first generation of modern time management techniques as notes and checklist reminders. The second generation focused on planning and preparation through the use of calendars and appointment books. The third generation was committed to "planning, prioritizing and controlling." Once again, these techniques were not working. Covey describes several myth of third generation time management and its ideals of the following:
- Planning for efficiency
- Personal values' prioritization
- Controlling other people
Alan Lakein developed the "ABC technique." This approach uses letters to prioritize what is truly important to the individual. In labeling a task as A, B or C, the individual is actually categorizing these tasks as short-term, intermediate or long-range goals. This system can be taken one step further by assigning numerical rank to each task. For example, A-1 is the most important task and A-2 is secondary to A-1. The ABC technique of prioritization was limited because "A" list priorities may be confused with urgency more often than true importance. Some "B" and "C" ranked priorities may actually be more important, but not as urgent.
Covey has developed another prioritization technique that deals with the problem of importance versus urgency. In the later half of this century, time management instruments and instruction has blossomed into a sophisticated business. The professional is left to a personal search for those instruments that will be the most effective and efficient for his or her lifestyle. The professional who does not use time management skills may risk missing appointments and due dates of assignments. No good excuses can be given for being lazy in this area, as the professional is expected to be organized, finish tasks at assigned times, and be able to use time management principles to lead others.
Setting goals with balance in mind, planning ahead, and working on tasks that are important but not urgent can help alleviate many crises of life that the professional may otherwise encounter.
Everything in this world has something to balance its existence. If there is white, there is black; if there is darkness there is light, if there are time wasters, there are time savers. So now let us focus our attention towards those time savers because they are our best friends when we talk about Time Management. These are hereby few general examples of time savers. They are by no means the only time savers in the world.
The Top Ten Time Savers
- Fax Machines
- The Internet
- Coffee Machines
- Bulletin or Notice Boards
- Photo Copiers
- Efficient Filing Systems
- Good Secretaries and Junior Staff
Let's take a quick look at all these.
Surprise! Surprise! I had included telephones under the list of time killers but telephones are in fact one of the best time savers that man has invented. Just imagine the amount of time you get to save by just making a telephone call!
Suppose you are to have a business lunch (sometimes called a working lunch) with an important client. Obviously you have to reserve a table in your favorite restaurant. Now, imagine you have to go there in person and get things done directly. The task would easily take away at least two or three hours of your time when you take into account the journey, the traffic and all that. On the other hand, this is something you can easily do over the telephone while you are comfortably seated in your office.
So telephones are certainly one of the best time savers in this world. But of course, it all depends on how you use the telephone.
I don't think that enough can be said about the time saving roles of the computer. But then I don't think that I have to say much. I suppose every one will agree that computers are indeed time-saving machines.
Next we come to elevators and elevators too we know save a lot of time that we would other wise have to spend plodding up flights and flights of steps. Elevators save not just time but energy as well. But one annoying thing about elevators is that sometimes even f we punch the button repeatedly, the elevator takes for ever to reach or floor.
Now, if you just have to go two or three floors up or down in such cases it is always better to take the stairs instead of waiting ten or fifteen minutes for the elevator to come to your floor. It's better for your health too, top climb a few stairs every day.
· Fax machines
Like telephones, fax machines too save a lot of time by enabling us to send important documents across continents if needed and that too within a few seconds.
· The Internet
It goes without saying that the internet has revolutionized our concept of time itself. With facilities like email, scanners, voicemail and video conferencing, even the fax machine has become outdated. Talk about fast...
· Coffee machines.
I did it on purpose. When people see that a coffee machine has been included among the list of time savers, they tend to screw up their noses and raise their eyebrows. But would you believe that earlier, before coffee machines had made their presence felt in offices, people used to take coffee breaks that lasted up to half an hour?
· Bulletin or Notice Boards
Bulletin and Notice Boards are very time effective way of reaching out to a large number of people. Instead of conducting one of those long meetings in which every one gets a chance to go on and on, it's is bets to convey messages with the help of notice boards and bulletins which can be displayed at a place accessible to all. Oh yes, then comes the question of how to make sure that the message is read by all those concerned.
Simple, include space on the notice where the concerned people can put down their initials as proof that they have read the message.
Often we tend to underestimate the importance of photocopiers in an office. Those machines just sit there and take copies of what is fed into them all day long. It does seem like a job which does not require any brains. And that is why we do not give these machines any credit. But once these machines fail, we understand their worth. Of course we can take multiple prints using a printer, but cost wise and time wise a photocopier is much better. It is really faster than a printer and it costs nothing to take copies.
· Efficient Filing Systems
This had already been dealt with under office organization, but I just want to add that a good system of filing definitely saves a lot of time. Being able to find an important document or file should not be a matter of luck. There should be a proper place to keep the files something which people call a cabinet. And the files should be kept in a proper order with easy to read and intelligible name tags and labels. And in the files, the documents should not be filed in a haphazard order but should have an order that makes it easy to locate a paper.
The same thing applies to the files you have on your computer, you should name the files properly and not use abbreviation that could stand for anything. People tend to try and save time by using abbreviations which sound quite ridiculous once they forget what it really stands for.
· Good Secretaries and Junior Staff
Good secretaries are always an asset to an office. If your secretary is as dependable as a screen saver, then half the battle is won. But on the other hand if your secretary is as feather brained as a hen, then heaven help you! The advantage of having good secretaries and junior staff is that you can delegate a lot of things to them.
I told you earlier that it is not always necessary that you do everything by yourself. You should be able to delegate a lot of things, but first of course you have to be sure that the people you are delegating to do something are good enough.
Once you are able to share your work load with someone, you will have at least one hand free, and I am sure you will be able to put that hand to some good use.
Now, over here I have just highlighted ten time savers. It would be a good idea for you to look around and identify things that could save your time. Answering machines for one save a lot of time. If you really are too busy to attend your calls, let the machine do the talking for you.
In this context I think it would be appropriate to talk about one thing that most people often go wrong with in their quest to save time, and that is trying to do two things at the same time.
ADVANTAGES OF TIME MANAGEMENT
Having a job can be a stressful activity. Most people lose a lot of time just trying to think about their job. Too often, your job consumes you that it becomes a part of your everyday life and you tend to lose priorities on other activities. However, all of these are due to improper management of time. The problems without proper time management, you could be facing a lot of stress. You have to remember that productivity does not just mean doing several things. You need to create a balance in these activities and make sure each is properly done. When you have so many things to consider, you are very much likely going to fail in meeting your deadline or you can schedule more than one meeting at the same time. This could lead to lower efficiency and lots of time wasted. Although you might not lose your job in the process, you could easily forsake other aspects of your life.
The remedy Time management can help prevent such events from happening. This is because you won't have to worry about things when you schedule your events properly. You get a lot of stress relief and a lot of time to prioritize your life. However, successful time management is quite tricky. You have to incorporate a little self-discipline in order to set up your events properly. You also have to be more flexible with your goals and priorities. These prerequisites are easy to attain. You just have to learn the basic concepts in order to set things in motion.
Proper time management creates a few of the most powerful advantages within and outside your job sphere. Since all these problems stem from stress, the main advantage of time management is the reduction of stress. You probably have experienced chasing deadlines or suddenly realizing that you set up two meetings on the same date. You can prevent such scenario from happening if you practice clear time management plan and a timetable for your activities. By having a clear plan, you give yourself the chance to set up a great schedule that suits your planned activities both in and out of the job. Furthermore, you avoid compromising the most important aspect of all your activities: your health.
Another good thing about having a successful time management program is having a higher chance of completing everything on time. When you miss a deadline, you fall out of favor with your boss. This leads to additional pressure to complete other tasks and even to outdo your other officemates. This leads to a lot of unnecessary pressure that may cause you to extend your work outside the office just to keep up. It might even mean that you will bring your work to the dinner table. And the worse that could happen, you get so stressed out that you pass on the stress to your family members. The sooner you complete your tasks, the more you free yourself of all the stress.
The best thing about time management is that you get the chance to live your life on a proper routine. Your working schedule is not swamped and so you can leave enough time for relaxing and having fun. And despite of your hectic schedule, never forget to take a break from time to time as it helps you become more productive.
AVOID THE "KISS OF YES"
The idea might sound strange but avoiding the "kiss of yes" i.e. being able to say 'no' is fundamental to any scheme of Time Management.
Yes you have the master plan for time management, you have everything worked out, you have a time table which you stick to religiously, and you have a 'to do' list as well. But just when things are beginning to work out fine, a colleague or friend comes your way and asks you to help them out by doing certain jobs which are really their jobs.
The person smiles very sweetly at you and showers sugar coated words on you, and before you even know what hit you, you have said yes and agreed to do the work for the person. Now what is the relevance of your well thought out timetable? Where is your scheme for time management? Your work is waiting in the pantry while you are sweating over somebody else's work. And it's because of the simple reason that you could not say no to the person. How many times have you had a similar experience?
I'm not saying that you should not be civil. If you find a colleague in distress and have the time to spare, by all means help the person. Who knows, tomorrow you might be in that persons position and you may need somebody's help.
But that does not mean that you should let yourself be taken for a ride. If you are going to help a person at the expense of your work and schedule, then you are going to end up in hot water. It is human nature to shirk work and if word gets around that you are a very helpful guy (read that as s-u-c-k-e-r) then before you know it, requests for help will be coming from all sides.
Unless you want to take up from where Mother Theresa left off, you had better put your foot down and say "sorry boss, but I just don't have the time." Behave like a diplomat who is a person who can tell you to go to hell in such a nice manner that you will actually start looking forward to the trip. One more definition is that a diplomat is a person who can say the nastiest things in the nicest way.
So that is just what you have to do. Done the mask of the diplomat and the next time someone approaches you with sugar coated requests to help them out, smile back at them. Give them a sugary sickly sweet smile. So much that anyone in their normal senses would want to throw up at the sight of your smile.
Then you could try telling them how much you love them. Extol at length what you think of the person and your relationship with him or her. And then tell them that what you are going to say is going to be a life long sorrow for you. It is something that will plunge you into the depths of despair and all that. And then put it painfully across, "no, I'm terribly sorry but N-O."
And then when the person leaves your presence with a crest fallen face, wait till he or she is out of hearing range and then you can start that war dance. Or if you want you could try the hoola hoola.
Common face the facts, in today's world of cut throat competition your very existence may depend on your ability to say "no."
And its miles better being a selfish pig than a sucker.
PROCRASTINATION - THE ULTIMATE THIEF
Everyone does it. Everyone feels guilty when they do it and everyone resolves never to do it again. But they do. Everyone procrastinates. Procrastination—the cat burglar of time management—steals into your life and whisks away one of the most valuable assets you possess.
Procrastination can be a thoroughly amusing concept, indeed. But, as with all things humorous, there are some underlying deep and darker forces. At the root of procrastination, argue psychologists, almost always lurks some hidden fear or conflict that urges us to put things off. A person may be obliged to achieve certain results, but a multitude of opposing emotions serves to short-circuit action. Although the procrastinator may act as if the threat, fear, or conflict is gone, it's till there—both in the real world and in the person's subconscious—where it generates stress and, ultimately, corrodes success.
Time management experts have identified the eight most typical causes of procrastination, shown in Figure
Note that four of the causes (those in the shaded boxes) are primarily inner rooted. They arise, for the most part, from the procrastinator's psyche. When we have certain tendencies or personality traits, they can manifest themselves in very different situations. If, for example, you tend to fear failure and you procrastinate largely for that reason, you'll procrastinate on any task at which you might fear that you'll fail.
Even if you usually don't procrastinate, your environment can impose procrastination on you. The above Figure gives, in the clear unshaded boxes, the four typical external reasons for procrastination.
This is not to say that psychological reasons aren't involved. There must be some. But unpleasant or overwhelming tasks—and unclear goals or task flow—are enough to make anyone want to postpone the inevitable.
Fighting the Forces
Internal causes for procrastination are more difficult to attack than external ones, but once psychological obstacles are conquered, they're conquered for all tasks. If you procrastinate because of a fear of change, that fear will color many different kinds of tasks. Once you conquer this fear, you'll be able to approach most tasks with renewed energy. While a single internal cause can make you procrastinate on many tasks, external causes for procrastination tend to be task specific.
So, if you're putting off doing something for an external cause, you can cope with that cause and stop procrastinating— but that victory probably won't help you with other external causes that are making you procrastinate on other tasks.
TIME & STRESS MANAGEMENT
Most losses incurred by companies are due to a lack of sound time management program. Then, it leads to high levels of stress in the work force because employees are pressured and forced to extend working hours just to meet the company's quota. Indeed, there is a need to chase deadlines and attend double meetings. However, there is a way to remedy all that. There is no overnight solution to this type of problem. What you need is a slow and steady approach until you have perfected your scheduling needs until you are able to work free of any time-related stress.
Time management is a very important aspect of any business. In fact, most time management procedures even entail stress management as these two usually goes hand in hand. You might notice that levels of stress drop when you do not have to deal with several meetings and deadlines. It also means that you will be able to live out your life outside of the business sphere. Hence, it creates a more positive and holistic outlook. Stress is crucial because it can tend to make things more complicated. Productivity levels of employees are affected by their time management planning and workload. Hence, if you are able to manage your time properly, you can allow your employees to tend to stress relief activities. Aside from increasing their potential, it allows for a tighter bond amongst fellow employees and superiors. That is how it can impact team building factor.
Any successful time management training program begins with setting up a workable timetable that you and your employees can work with. It comes in a very comprehensive package that allows both manager and employee to meet halfway. Any company that undergoes training will have the capacity to teach employees how to manage time. This means that unnecessary distractions can be avoided. These efforts extend far beyond ensuring a thriving business but also consider one of the most important aspects in any venture, and that is your health. This kind of training focuses on increasing the amount of control and focus the company has over its goals and methods. This means that when you allow improvements to go into the necessary sectors of your business, you are able to increase your efficiency. Therefore, this kind of training strengthens the employees' ability to assess the situation and pick out assignments that can help them increase productivity levels. Delegation of tasks is also addressed in such training. This is because managers sometimes think that employees are better at handling manual activities such as photocopying and sending. However, managers need to know that delegation of tasks is a huge risk. Some tasks are better done by the manager rather than passing them down to subordinates. Aside from being time-efficient, it saves a lot of energy and allows for a more productive workplace. The problem one basic misconception about time management is that it allows no time for break or relaxation. In fact, when you properly manage your time, you get the exact opposite. It allows the individual more time to relax because he or she will be able to set aside time for work and other activities. Hence, any problem encountered in the workplace does not carry over to your personal lives. Therefore, you have successfully kept your business and other aspects of your life separate, as they should be.
TIME MANAGEMENT FOR STUDENTS
In today's world, we face a lot of distractions every day. The case is especially tough for a typical student who is struggling to create a balance between school and other societal factors that contribute to becoming a holistic individual. Therefore, today's young generation is slowly losing their sense of time management. The dilemma lies in sifting through all these factors and setting their priorities. Without proper time management, a student could indeed fall behind and live an imbalanced life.
1.) Balance between Work, Study and Life Contrary to popular belief, time management works simply. However, the hard part is being able to practice it and implant it within your subconscious to make it seem natural. For a student, he or she must be able to classify time allotted for classes, working, studying, and partying. If you do not have a clear sense of what to do with your time, it is easy to go along with the flow and that is where poor time management all begins. A student must be able to differentiate the various aspects of your student life, so there is always a separate time for everything. For instance, you have an upcoming quiz or exam, you must learn to cut down or eliminate partying from your schedule to allot more time for study. Indeed, for this method to be a success one must need only common sense. However, some people tend to overestimate their capacity to manage their time. Hence, they end up consuming more time doing one task that they have none left for the other. Learn how to adjust your schedule so you won't end up stressing out just trying to make up for lost time. If you have to, write down your schedule so you can keep track of where you need to be at a certain time.
2.) Time Portioning Students might initially find doing school assignments and work projects boring and stressful. However, you can opt to divide the larger tasks into small, more manageable, tasks. That way, you won't find yourself eating up several hours of your time just trying to complete one task. Another benefit for doing this is that you'd be able to allocate these smaller tasks into smaller time schedules that would have a definite start and end. Once you have completed those smaller tasks, you can move on to other tasks. Hence, it eliminates the boring factor as you continually alter your schedule instead of being stuck on one for hours.
3.) Reward For Managing Your Time When you manage your time as a student, you can get some more free time to spare as rewards so you have more time to go to parties or just have a bit of fun. Remember that all work and no play would make a student very dull.
TIME MANAGEMENT PRINCIPLES FOR STUDENTS
As a student, there are some basic principles of time management that you can apply. These are as follows:
1. Identify "Best Time" for Studying
Everyone has high and low periods of attention and concentration. Are you a "morning person" or a "night person?" Use your power times to study while the down times for routines such as laundry etc.
2. Study Difficult Subjects First
When you are fresh, you can process information more quickly and save time as a result.
3. Use Distributed Learning and Practice
Study in shorter time blocks with short breaks between. This keeps you from getting fatigued and "wasting time." This type of studying is efficient because while you are taking a break, the brain is still processing the information.
4. Make Sure the Surroundings are Conducive to Studying
This will allow you to reduce distractions which can "waste time." If there are times in the hostel halls or your apartment when you know there will be noise and commotion, use that time for mindless tasks.
5. Make Room for Entertainment and Relaxation
College is more than studying. You need to have a social life. Yet, you also need to have a balance in your life.
6. Make Sure you have Time to Sleep and Eat Properly
Sleep is often an activity (or lack of activity) that students use as time management "bank." When you need a few extra hours for studying or socializing, you withdraw a few hours of sleep. Doing this makes the time you spend studying less effective because you will need a couple hours of clock time to get an hour of productive time. This is not a good way to manage you in relation to time.
7. Figure out where Time is hidden
These instances may include the following:
- Sitting in a waiting room
- Waiting to pick someone up
- Riding in the bus
- Stuck in traffic in the car/on your commute (listen to tapes you have made, foreign language tapes, lectures etc)
- Waiting in line
- Doing laundry
- Between classes
Take advantage of quick breaks and hidden time in the following manner:
- Re-read directions/questions for your next paper or assignment
- Survey the next reading assignment
- Read one section of a reading assignment
- List the main points of what you just read, or of the lecture you just heard
- List today's "to do" items
- Write out some questions to ask in class
Time management helps to avoid the following:
- The syndrome of having several major tasks to do all in the same night, and failing to do any of them.
- Self-incarceration-- Do not be a prisoner to your own procrastination, inefficiency or laziness.
- Being chronically late-- Are you always the last one to class? How does this impact your classroom experience? How are things different when you show up on time or early for class?
TIME MANAGEMENT FOR PARENTS
For new parents, they face a common dilemma of making that much needed transition. If you do have work, you also need to juggle that along with your priorities in the family. You can probably easily manage the time at the office but the real challenge lies in organizing your household such as sending or picking the kids up at school, preparing dinner, or cleaning up the house. If not managed well, these tasks can prove stressful. When you have kids for the first time, it is only natural to suffer from jitters especially with a new setup. However, the solution to this is simple. You just have to cope with your situation since it is only through experience that you'd be able to find a better approach to family life. But here are proven and trusted solutions that any parent might find useful.
Learning how to properly set priorities is among the most important skill that every parent, whether new or not, must practice especially for the working ones. The key here is to recognize the difference in schedule as compared to when you were on your own now that you have your kids as your main obligation. Then, you can make the appropriate changes. You must be able to determine which your top priority is: is it your kids or your work? You have to remember that your decisions have trade-offs, therefore you would have to identify which of them has the least tradeoff.
An additional tip that you can employ, you can also try setting up a "to-do" list for your set of activities within a day. That way, you can easily update what priorities you need to focus one.
Delegating other Duties
When it comes to work at home, it is usually the wives' responsibility to handle them. However, wives must not carry the sole burden of looking after the entire house. Instead, you can delegate other duties to your husband so you can have equal share of the workload at home.
If your husband is not acquainted with domestic chores, this is the best time to get him started. You can divide the chores at home such as washing the dishes, doing the laundry, or cleaning up the house. If not, then you can have him take care of the kids while you finish up on some chores.
More than being able to accomplish the chores faster, it forms a bond and creates a healthier working relationship between both of you as parents. If your kids are old enough, you can even ask them to help you out with the tasks at home. You can start with training them to fix their beds or clean up their rooms, as well as putting their dirty clothes into the laundry basket.
Aside from the help they can provide you in maintaining your home, it also teaches them how to be responsible. Planning out in Advance what you have to do for mothers, it is best to plan ahead what you have set out to do for the following day.
Among these things is creating a menu ahead of time. Therefore, when it is time to prepare lunch or dinner for the family, you already have an idea what to cook for them. By creating a weekly menu, you increase your efficiency. After all, who has the time and energy to spend wondering about what to cook for dinner after an exhausting day at the office? Delegate
Proper Time for Shopping
When it comes to going out with your family, you need to also plan ahead your itinerary. This will help you prepare the things you will bring with you ahead and figure out if you have missed anything. Enough preparation will ensure that you will have all the things you need for this day off with the family. As for shopping, there are a few simple tips that any mother would find useful.
Shopping at the grocery usually takes a lot of time. Hence, you need to produce a list of the essential items you need to pick up. Not only will this help make shopping faster, but will also make sure that you do not forget anything. Or else you would eat up more time since you have to return to get the items you've missed. For parents, time management usually entails mere common sense. And when you have properly set your priorities, you are good to go.
TIME MANAGEMENT TRAINING
People nowadays need to get a lot of things done especially with regards to their job. However, they tend to lose track of a lot of events and end up incurring losses in time. The problem is that these losses are unnecessary and are therefore not advisable if you have a job. At its core, the problem is in terms of poor time management.
How many times have you faced the dilemma of having too many meetings in one day or trying to beat an impossible deadline? And the worse thing is, you get too stressed out that it overflows into your personal life. You manage to rub off that stress onto your family members and that is when it becomes u
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