From time to time I hear people say if only there was more than 24 hours in the day, I can accomplish much more. As this is impossible, it is best to accept that all you and I have each day is 24 hours and critically decide to utilise each minute and hour to its best. I have found the following principles helpful when managing my time.
- Prioritise: like everyone else, I have so many responsibilities, a number of tasks on my to – do list and demands from others. But I always ask myself these questions: What needs my attention now? What can’t wait until tomorrow? If I don’t attend to this right now what are the consequences if any?
- Plan: I have found out I am more effective and in control of my day when I think ahead and write things down in my diary. This helps me focus on issues that really matter. My memory is not as good as it used to be, the only way I can keep on top of things is to write everything down. Even with the greatest intentions and plans, things may not turn out as envisaged, try not to get stressed about it, get back to the planning board and re-plan.
- Postpone: everything you pay attention to requires time so if it is unplanned for, endeavour to delay it for a more suitable time unless it is an emergency. I am learning not to pick up calls if I am in the middle of something as this interrupts what I am doing. If I can deal with the phone call later, then I will do so. Sometimes people need you to assist them and either come to you at the last minute or a time convenient for them (and not you). It is okay to let them know how you prefer to operate. Do so in a kind and diplomatic way and in some instances you may need to say ‘no’ to others if you can justify your reasons and don’t feel guilty.
- Practical: there are days I set out to achieve so much and little is accomplished, this frustrates me. On reviewing my plans, I have picked out that I am sometimes not realistic. Considering the fact I have two kids under 5 (which is a job in itself) I need to leave room for the unexpected and the unplanned for. Having said that, of recent I am more disciplined with my children’s routines and this has helped immensely. Of course with a little room for flexibility. Nowadays, I tend to set myself fewer tasks for each day that are realistic and achievable and I find out I get to complete other tasks I did not intend to complete that day as far as I am in the mood.
- Pleasure: it is very important to put my feet up after a busy day. But watching TV for extensive periods (it depends on what you are watching though, as far as I am concerned watching ‘soaps’ add no value to me) or spending hours on face book is something I have cut back on drastically this is no longer the best way for me to relax and I haven’t got the time anyway. I would rather spend my calming down time on therapeutic activities.
- Perception: I am aware I am generally a morning person and it is best to dedicate the best part of my day to important things. Usually once I have had my dinner my day has ended and I prefer not to carry out any tasks unless deemed absolutely necessary. All I want to do is sit and relax. Hence when working on my goals I take into account when I am most productive and use this to my advantage.
Time as they say flies, but you are the pilot. So steer time in the direction you want it to go!