Deadlines to be met, timelines too tight.
Colleague needs help, no time.
Have to meet daughter’s class teacher, no time.
Need to buy gifts for parents’ anniversary, no time.
If the scenario seems familiar, you must always be wondering where the 24 hours fly off. And if these problems don’t crop up for you, you are a superman and we sure need some tips from you!!
Well, God made 24 hrs or 86,400 seconds in a day and everything has to be done in that “short” span of time itself. So let’s see what we can do to manage our time so that we don’t fall short of our professional and personal commitments. Yes, both professional and personal life must be balanced for a normal living.
The one thing that you need to do is prioritize. Prioritize tasks that have to be accomplished and then plan how to complete them.
Make a list of all things you need to do. If you are doing the exercise for the first time, I would suggest dividing the list into two headings – short term and long term.
Short term goals could be meeting deadlines at the office, buying gifts for friend’s birthday, taking a holiday, etc. Your long term goals would typically include buying that dream house or that dream car, taking a sabbatical and going on world tour, etc.
Here, in this article, we will focus more on short term goals because that is where time crunch is felt most. Also, if you manage your immediate tasks, you will find ways and means to achieve your long term goals as well.
Plan Ahead Plan Daily
Take half an hour from your busy schedule to plan your next 24 hrs. The best time would be early in the morning, before you begin your day. You are fresh, your mind is rid of (almost!!) all stress and you will be able to plan your day well. Of course, there is nothing to stop you from doing the same exercise at the end of the day if you feel up to it.
The idea is to do it with a fresh and open mind. You would do well to segregate your tasks at the office and at home front. Once you do that, see if there are some tasks that can be delegated.
Remember, however much you might want to, it’s not possible for you to do everything yourself. Show some faith in others’ abilities and you will be surprised at the results.
Put Tasks in Your Schedule
Next thing you should do is decide how much time you will take to do the task. Take care they don’t add up to more than 24 hrs.! Jokes apart, now fit the tasks into the day’s schedule, i.e., when to do.
There are many tools available to help you do that and remind you when a new task is to be started. You can use MS office Outlook if you carry a laptop or your computer is within your reach at all times.
You can use the organizer in your smartphone. If nothing else, keep a small notepad in your pocket and keep referring to it from time to time. But, your schedule must be written down for you to see.
You would laugh at it but you can even ask others to remind you of some task. I have done this many times and this technique is more useful if you ask an utterly sincere person to remind you. He will ask you later if you completed your work. That will certainly do the trick if you missed out the first time.
You could put post-its at strategic places as reminders. But don’t overdo. I have seen people putting so many post-its that one reminder has to be put to check them!!
The first thing that will come to your mind when I talk of scheduling is that it’s easier said than done. Practically it might not be possible to do so. But I assure you, with some discipline you can do this easily.
Points to Ponder
You should keep these in mind when preparing the day’s schedule:
- Don’t pack every minute of your day with your scheduled tasks.
- Keep breathing space in your calendar for emergencies. Some things will crop up that have to be done or attended to immediately.
- Keep aside time for lunch break and tea breaks. Consider yourself human, not superhuman!!!
- Taking a siesta to recharge you is not a bad idea.
- If you are not able to do a certain task today, don’t worry, after all “Tomorrow is Another Day.”
- Last but not the least, no one is going to hang you if you don’t stick to your schedule.
One word of caution – if you are not able to meet deadlines initially, that doesn’t mean you are incompetent. It simply means you have not learnt to schedule yourself. After a couple of days you will be able to make schedules where you are able to do most of your daily tasks in the allocated time.
But take care that you are not going too easy on yourself while scheduling.
A balance between what is to be done and what you can do in a day is to be achieved. The calendar should not be punishing but not a cakewalk either. Be patient and you will learn the trick in no time.
Plan Long Term
Once you start following the daily task list, start incorporating weekly, monthly or any other task that has to be done at regular intervals. Again, don’t pack your schedule because one-time jobs will keep cropping up every time.
I have shared some of the ways I use to manage my time. I’m sure each one of you has one or two tricks up your sleeve. Do share them with me so that I can improve my scheduling further. After all, time management is just making schedules and sticking to the timelines. Happy scheduling!!