Where does the time go
by Coach Pat Morgan
Ever find yourself wishing you had just a few more hours in the day to get it all done? Between work and family responsibilities alone, it can be challenging to juggle time for everything. Surely we were created for more than a life on a continuous treadmill where we never seem to catch up.
Futurists predicted that, in the 21st century, work would be done in virtual organizations and paperless offices. Some even said that the work week would drop to 35, or even 30 hours, and that too much leisure time could become a problem. Most of us are not quite there yet, are we? Actually, over the past quarter-century, the time Americans spend at work has continued to rise. Our world seems to be speeding ahead faster than our comfort level and creating effects like stress, exhaustion and other health problems, to name a few. In business, the constant pressure to reduce costs and to do more with less often leaves employees in an unending cycle of overwork and overwhelm which ultimately affects the productivity and efficiency of the organization.
What is the solution? Time management can help. Or rather, more effective use of time can help. When you think about it, we don't really manage time, but rather manage ourselves and how we choose to spend each 24 hour day we are given. By having tools and support available, we can better manage ourselves and the choices we make.
Tips for Managing Use of Time...
1. TAKE A LOOK AT WHERE YOU SPENDING YOUR TIME. It may sound odd to suggest taking time in an already busy schedule to assess how you are using time. Try tracking your time for the next week and see just how you spend it. Becoming more aware of how you use time can help you identify opportunities for changes that may alleviate time pressures. Ask yourself: Is there a change I can make to spend time more wisely?
2. DISTINGUISH BETWEEN IMPORTANT AND URGENT. If you have 25 tasks for a given day, how many of them do you truly need to accomplish? An excellent tool for helping prioritize activities is Covey's Time Management Matrix (Stephen R. Covey in his book "First Things First"). It is a simple and straightforward approach to determining importance vs. urgency when planning your activities. Most of the time, focusing on things that are important, rather than urgent, results in greater effectiveness. Ask yourself: Do I prioritize effectively?
3. PLAN YOUR WORK; WORK YOUR PLAN. There is a cost in time and energy associated with working in a reactionary mode without a plan. While there will always be a need for flexibility, having a plan will help you maintain focus and measure progress. It can also support you in handling interruptions that may take you off task. Ask yourself: Do I have a clear plan? Am I working my plan?
4. ZAP TIME WASTERS. Time wasted can never be regained. A few examples... browsing the internet, email, chatting with co-workers, looking for things, and talking on the phone. Some ideas for zapping these time bandits are: schedule a time to return phone calls and email, get organized so that time is not wasted looking for tools and papers, use an Internet reminder service to keep track of important dates or events. Ask yourself: What will I do to eliminate time wasters?
"The bad news is time flies. The good news is you're the pilot." ~ Michael Althsuler
Coach Morgan is a Business & Personal Coach. She helps business leaders and their teams become more productive and profitable while maintaining focus and balance. She has led work groups in the United Kingdom and Australia. Coach Morgan is an adjunct professor at the University of Miami and a graduate of CoachU. She is the author of “A Year of Smooth Sailing – 12 Strategies for Charting Your Course to a Great Life” and “Smooth Sailing Success.”