Sometimes life can be overwhelming with work, family, friends and the activities we are involved in. Many of us can feel disorganised, stressed and not in control of our lives. We never seem to have the time to do everything we want.
The first step to avoid being overwhelmed is to understand that it would be impossible to do everything we would like to do and to accept the fact that we may never be able to do everything we wish. It is important, therefore, to prioritise the things that are most important to us. We need to regularly reassess our values, goals and tasks.
Time can be your biggest asset if you know how to manage it properly. You can achieve more, make an impression on your boss or work colleagues, and leave yourself more free time to enjoy life. We would like to provide you, as an ILSPA Student or Member, with advice on how to manage your time.
To be able to achieve time management successfully, we need to be self-disciplined. By being disciplined we can focus on what is most important in our lives. Everything may seem important, but not everything is equally important. There are three exercises that you can carry out in order to achieve your goal for a more organised and relaxed life:
1. Write a to-do list
2. Schedule your activities
3. Compile an action plan
Write a to-do list
People deal with their lists in different ways. Some of you will set out to complete all your tasks in one day, whereas others may carry over some tasks from their list to the next day if they run out of time. Some of the low-priority jobs may not even be completed for a few weeks but the main point is that you will feel more organised and in control of your activities.
The principal thing that will help you here is knowing how to prioritise so you understand which are the most important tasks for each day. To-do lists are great for getting everything in our heads down on paper, as it always looks more manageable then.
Schedule your activities
It is also important to understand how to schedule your time. Once you have defined what takes up your time, you need to learn how to achieve your goals by planning to make the best use of your time. It is also important to avoid over-commitment, so be realistic about what you can achieve with your time.
If you manage people in your work, for instance, then you must allow time for supervision, training and dealing with issues. You will also need to take into consideration the time spent conversing with your boss and others around you. If your job sometimes involves the unexpected, then it is advisable to pencil in contingency time. We often get interrupted in our work, and it is said that people in managerial positions get as little as six minutes of uninterrupted work at a time. Use your experience to try to estimate these occurrences, and leave some space in your schedule for flexibility.
The key points to remember in managing your time are as follows:
• Define the time you have available.
• Identify the most important tasks you have to complete in your day, both at home and at work.
• Allow for contingency time for the unexpected.
• Plan how to achieve your personal goals and activities in your free time.
• Concentrate on one thing at a time.
• Don’t waste time with unnecessary activities or worries.
• Continually look at ways of freeing up your time.
• Attempt to get satisfaction out of every moment.
Create an action plan
If there are goals that you want to achieve in your life, then you need to write out a plan of how you are going to achieve them. This involves thinking about the stages you need to go through and the tasks you need to perform in order to accomplish what you want.
This is a simple but very effective exercise. Some of us expect to be able to achieve what we want in an instant, but it is important to remember that many things take time and effort. We may have to go through many stages before we achieve our goals. If we are aware of these stages, then we can use our time more effectively to make sure that we concentrate on them.
Another good thing to keep in mind is a famous quote by tennis great Arthur Ashe: “Success is a journey, not a destination. The doing is often more important than the outcome”. This reminder can help us enjoy each step of the process rather than becoming stressed by what we haven’t achieved yet.
If you follow all this advice, you will experience great benefits. Once you decide to take control over your life and to make the most of your time, you will set the ball rolling for an easier, less stressful and more organised life, so you can achieve whatever your heart desires.