We talked about two key elements in effective time management in the previous post: prioritization and not putting off. Make a distinction between the important and the urgent and develop the habit of the act now! What we have learned so far helps us decide what to do and when to do it. And it is an essential issue since, every day, a considerable number of things to “into our inbox.”
However, prioritizing is just one of the pillars of time management. Being effective in taking advantage of our time implies mastering another series of elements. It is precisely the object of this post.
We’ll talk about the defining characteristics of time, its unbreakable laws, and the main “thieves of our time” that influence our effectiveness.
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The Unique Characteristics of Time Management: Know them to be able to Manage our Time.
Time is our leading resource. It is already something known. However, it is a problematic, outstanding resource. It has a series of characteristics that make it unique.
- The first characteristic of time is that it is a scarce resource. Every one minute passes and disappears. We cannot reserve it to use it at whatever time we want. Since you cannot conserve and save your time, the only thing you can do is use it differently to dedicate it to significant goals and abandon the issues that provide you little value. Always keep in mind that when time passes, it goes forever.
- The second characteristic of time is that it is essential. Any activity takes time. No substance what you want to accomplish, your determination always need a specific time. Plan well the time you are going to consume and how you are going to finish it. Keep in mind that what you invest in planning will later save you much of your time dedicated to your activities. Through planning, you save time.
- The third characteristic of time is that it is irreplaceable. We cannot substitute “this time” for “the other.” In place of this reason, it is essential to think through how and with whom we are using our time. It is especially important in our relationships. Often, we use the time and feel that we are not dedicating enough to certain people in our family, friends, or work. The general public who make effective use of their time distribute it with discipline among the people and environments they consider essential.
- The fourth characteristic of time is that it is essential to obtain results. When you set goals, when you start projects or do any activity, you will have to allocate time no matter how small. We will have to define, for each objective, how long it will take us, and when we will achieve it. If we don’t do it like that, everything tends to drag on indefinitely and sometimes causes us not to achieve the goal.
As you can see, time is a unique resource. It forces us to manage it specially.
Let us now look at the unbreakable Laws of time. Some patterns that time follows and that, like its characteristics, define it as a unique resource. Knowing the fundamental laws, we can generate strategies to govern it.
The Unbreakable Laws of Time:
Time always follows basic principles The unbreakable laws of time: time always follows basic tenets:
“The time required for a task grows when we interrupt and resume it.” Have you noticed this? Have you realized that when you are doing something, leave it, and then come back with it, start from the beginning? It is an ordinary reality of our day today. Interrupting what we are doing is wasting time and efficiency. When you’ve prioritized your tasks and activities, and start with one of them, finish them before moving on to the next. Meet the times and deadlines that you have defined.
“For a short task, there is always a minute. For a long time, there is never time”. People feel good when we “do a lot of things.” This gives us security and a feeling of “duty remains done.” However, the truth is that we do not always do the things we have to do. We do many things, but are they essential? Do we think long term? On the other hand, it is usual that the important thing is precisely that activity that takes us the most time. It is a tedious and almost effortless task. Well, the key is that cost or not, we have to make time for it.
“Every task stays indefinitely delay until it occupies all the time available for its complete performance” (Parkinson). Deadlines are critical to effectiveness. When an activity has no deadline, we tend to put it off indefinitely. We have a common tendency to leave things “until the last day.” It is essential that we define our activities’ deadlines and then plan our work to meet them.
“The perfect is not profitable.” On many occasions, we spend too ample time on specific activities to later obtain results that do not justify this time. Perfectionism leads us to waste time since it prevents us from undertaking part of our plans. It is necessary to do things well, with quality, but effectively. Review your performances and spend adequate time on each item to obtain good results.
The weather and its characteristics. Time and its unbreakable laws. We are already learning something more about this fundamental resource’s operation, which will help us improve. Let us now turn to one last important question in the management of our time.
Although we have prioritized and are clear about what we should do throughout our day, many elements appear that make it difficult for us to fulfill our plans. We have measured the time we will spend on each activity and task, and then, wham, something appears and annoys it. These various things distract us and make us less effective are what we call “time thieves.”
The Time Thieves: Root Causes of Inefficiency.
The different factors that appear can be external to us and even be generated by ourselves. There are self-generated and external thieves of time. Let’s see each of these groups below.
Some self-generated time thieves
our organization depends on ourselves. We are owners of our resources and sovereign to make decisions. If we do not define plans and do not organize our tasks, we will hardly obtain the best results. The organization helps develop a more significant number of activities and is a fundamental piece to achieve objectives.
our way of understanding work, our daily habits, our individualism, or our constant need for relationships. The way we work influences our effectiveness. Some behaviors steal time and affect performance.
Inability to Say No:
Lack of assertiveness is one of the great thieves of time. What do you do when a colleague or work colleague comes and asks for your help? And when does the next one come? And the next? What do you do when a client or supplier appears that you did not expect and break your work rhythm? The fear of conflict, the fear of transmitting a lousy opinion, in short, the fear of rejection that many people have makes them unable to “say no” to interruptions. Review this question to optimize your results.
Lack of Interest in what we do:
motivation and enthusiasm are essential for good results. If our activities do not interest us, they bore us and awaken all our defense mechanisms. We quickly tend to procrastinate and change tasks. Put enthusiasm in what you do to take advantage of your time. Keep in mind that what you have decided you have to do will help you achieve your goals.
Some external time thieves
- Unexpected visits: in the professional field, the appearance of unplanned visits is widespread. Logically, this is a crucial element to manage in order not to lose efficiency.
- Lack of Punctuality: Not only ours but also that of clients or suppliers, the lack of punctuality reduces our work’s effectiveness. If we have prioritized the actions that we have to take and defined the time we assign to each of them, any change or delay in these will negatively affect our performance.
- Unproductive Meetings: Meetings are another of the workhorses of professional success. Many courses and seminars are convened on this subject because, as a general rule, the meetings’ level of use is low. Lack of punctuality, lack of a defined schedule, and lack of communication management determine the dynamics of many discussions.
- Other thieves of time: e-mail, social networks, internet, press, So to an endless number of issues that threaten to consume our time daily. Technology and new media are exciting tools in today’s business world, but our ability to properly manage them is key to our results.
Indeed you have experienced some of these “thieves” in your day today. Indeed you have thought at some point, “I don’t own my time.” And this is because fighting and stopping the thieves of time is something complicated. However, you have already learned some concepts that will help you in your management. Remember the following points:
- identify and define perfectly what your goals are
- select the tasks that you necessarily have to do to fulfill them, prioritize them, and put them on a calendar
- identify your top exogenous and self-generated time thieves
- put into practice the different recipes that we have discussed to combat these thieves.
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