Now, the concept ‘Time’ is one common enough to us all. If I asked now, “what’s the time?” most of us would instantly look at our wristwatches, our phones, or even to that clock in the room where you are reading this. We all have a basic understanding of what ‘Time’ means, and thus going over definitional issues of ‘Time’ would be in effect, a waste of time.
This is because the topic has been approached from different perspectives; scientific, philosophical, academic, religious etc. For the purpose of this post however, a brief definition of time would be given. Time is “the indefinite continued progress of existence and events in the past, present, and future regarded as a whole”. It is that “thing that is measured in seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years etc using clocks, or other instruments of measurement”.
I ask for your attention as a reader because this issue is integral, not only in our bid to become better ladies and gentlemen, but also as in the management of our daily activities. I had intended to base the crux of this post on punctuality but that would mean ignoring other issues such as idleness, nonchalance, laziness, procrastination, ineffectiveness and inefficiency. For this reason, I shall center this article on effective time management because this encompasses all of the aforementioned issues.
We have established what Time in essence means, what is Time Management? Time Management is the act or process of planning and exercising conscious control over the amount of time spent on specific activities, especially to increase effectiveness, efficiency or productivity. Time Management is the ability to use one’s time effectively or productively. It has often been said that “time management is the key to efficient working”.
It is important to know that in order to practice effective Time Management, one has to be disciplined. Discipline and Time Management go hand in hand; it is only a disciplined person that manages his/her time properly. I would be frank with you; discipline is integral to everything we do. It teaches us to operate by principle rather than desire. It is what makes us stick to our plans, what makes us say no to ourselves, it is what makes us deny our impulses and our wants, it guarantees productivity. Discipline is self-mastery; it is the gauge of a man’s success. Barry Werner said, “The essence of self-discipline is to do the important thing rather than the urgent thing”.
A lot of people do not plan their time well. This is why they end up handing in work late, forgetting commitments, making excuses for why work is not done in time and well enough, and failing in their life endeavors. We cannot ascribe to perfection if bad habits like idleness and procrastination still plague us. Time Management is a skill that is developed, and it takes constant repetition. It might seem like a lot of work but the simple truth is that it is always worth it…always. Time Management involves three basic steps; Prioritizing, Organizing, and Developing a Schedule.
It is always very important to set priorities. A lot of us found it tough as students. I believe current students would agree that being one can be rough, and the simple truth is, they all have so much to do. They have to juggle school work with extracurricular activities, co-curricular activities and even social lives. A number of them even have jobs to support and sustain them, and in the end, it might seem that there isn’t enough time.
This is why we have to prioritize. Setting priorities means making a value judgment on each task you need to complete based on its worth and when it must be completed. For instance, I wanted to write this post and also submit a project report to my supervisor at work. Of course I had to decide which was more important, and which I had to do first. I don’t think I should say here which I decided was more important and which one I did first; just that reaching a quick decision on this made the work faster and easier for me. Helen Keller in her The Story of My Life said; “One painful duty fulfilled makes the next plainer and easier”
Sometimes, we have to address the urgent. We should not feel guilty for abandoning some tasks but we should remember that productivity and efficiency is the goal. Peter Drucker said that “there is nothing as useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all”. The essence of prioritizing is to accomplish what we can early, attach deadlines to things we can delay, and in effect, give ourselves enough time to do what we have to do. As Stephen Covey says, “The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities”.
It is also very important to live an organized life. It is my opinion that if you are organized, then you are prepared, and if you are prepared you are ready. One of the important qualities of a disciplined man is organization. Organization saves you the stress of hurrying; it assures you of calm.
It isn’t just enough to set priorities- we should also organize ourselves. Organization is in essence a kind of planning. Organizing your time is in effect a step in good Time Management. Your level of organization helps determine your level of productivity. Organization is preparation, and what is it they say about luck?- it is when preparation meets opportunity. Phillip Randolph did say, “At the banquet table of nature, there are no reserved seats. You get what you can take, and what you can hold. If you can’t take anything, you won’t get anything, and if you can’t hold anything, you won’t keep anything. And you can’t take anything without organization”.
Organization displays prudent use of time and levelheadedness. Clutter showcases idleness. Clutter is the physical manifestation of unmade decisions fuelled by procrastination. Christina Scalise said, “Organization isn’t about perfection; it’s about efficiency, reducing stress and clutter, saving time and money and improving your overall quality of life”.
DEVELOPING A SCHEDULE
Another vital step in effective time management is developing a schedule. It is important to set a schedule. Scheduling is being very proactive. I like to start simple; every morning when I wake, I set a daily to-do list. It is very helpful- it is a creative way to organize your time. Once you have set a to-do list, and you manage to accomplish all the tasks within the time limit you set for yourself, you have effectively managed your time.
Scheduling is an amalgamation of the first two steps; prioritizing and organizing. It will help you organize your regular activities, determine your available free/fun time, ascertain the time spent working and discern the periods where you tend to waste time. Scheduling is an important step in preventing last minute working. You shouldn’t wait till the last hour- it is indicative of laziness.
It is also important to prepare for the unexpected. Sometimes, things will come up that you didn’t plan for, even after dedicated planning and organization. When this occurs, you simply reschedule! You list every necessary activity you need to complete, you define time limits for each activity, you set priorities within the list, you get yourself organized, and you tackle the tasks in order. Harvey Mackay said, “As you schedule individual tasks, give yourself a cushion. Mark the due date a few days ahead of the actual deadline so you have time to deal with changes or last minute emergencies”.
A mastery of all these three steps is in effect competence in time management. Once you are able to prioritize, organize and set a schedule, then you have good time management skills. When you prioritize, when you organize, when you schedule- when you practice Time Management, then you do away with idleness, laziness, inefficiency, procrastination, and you achieve productivity, efficiency, success, and good mental health.
“The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot”.