When I run management courses, the need to manage time comes up as a required development area for most managers. Whether they are first line or at senior level, this is the one area they always feel they could do better in.
But all time management is a misnomer. You can’t manage time. Unless you have the Time Turner from Harry Potter, or are a Time Lord, it is impossible to manage time. It is
- Irreversible and irreplaceable
- It is a resource
- The clock moves at a set pace no matter what we do
- It is never re-usable
Time Management is described by Wikipedia as:
“…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.”
Sounds complicated. What exactly does “conscious control”, “specific activities” and “increase effectiveness” mean? Simply put, it is all about doing the right thing at the right time, but for many people this is tough. What is the right thing? When is the right time?
Some people manage to achieve a lot of amazing things at work and still get home on time. Other people can be at work 12 hours a day and achieve very little. The former are definitely living the definition of time management. So how do we all get there? Well, if you are a person who regularly works 12 hour days and never achieves everything they need to, you are not going to become perfect at managing your time overnight, or by simply attending a course.
What is it really about?
What time management is really about is being productive and getting tasks completed faster. This takes discipline, and being disciplined requires hard work and effort.
It’s a bit like wanting to become fit, by, for example running. If you have never run at all, then you know you won’t be able to run a marathon by next week. You will have to train and build up to it. You start with building up stamina to run a 5k, then a 10k, a half marathon and eventually get to a marathon. And we don’t all get there at the same time. Some will manage that in 6 months, some a year, some even more.
It’s the same with managing your time. You build up to it. You make a few changes, the changes that work for you become embedded, and then you look at making more and more changes. Eventually you will be that definition of Time Management.
And, with running, if you let it slip, you lose fitness and then you have to build up again. Managing your time is exactly the same.
How do I start improving my time management?
Be sure to constantly ask yourself “am I doing the right thing at the right time?”
By asking ourselves this question we:
- Save time for ourselves and the company we work for
- Have more time to do what we should be doing
- Change what we need to
- Question our attitude and behaviour
It is also important to remember, we do what works for us. Like running, for some, 5k is all we want to do, for others it’s a marathon or nothing. With time management we do what we have to do to be effective and efficient.
And just in case you’re not convinced that we can all benefit from a bit more discipline, then this short poem (source unknown) is a great reminder of the value of time.
Value of time
To realise the value of one year: Ask a student who has failed a final exam.
To realise the value of one month: Ask a mother who has given birth to a premature baby.
To realise the value of one week: Ask an editor of a weekly newspaper.
To realise the value of one hour: Ask the lovers who are waiting to meet.
To realise the value of one minute: Ask the person who has missed the train, bus or plane.
To realise the value of one second: Ask a person who has survived an accident.
To realise the value of one millisecond: Ask the person who has won a silver medal in the Olympics.
Contact us now for more information on how we can supply your people with the tools and techniques to improve their time management development.
Keep checking back here for more tips and guides on how to improve your skills and become more efficient.
Annette Quinn, Performance Management Facilitator
In my series of blogs I will be taking a look at performance management, in particular Time Management, and providing tips on how to develop your skills.
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