A Day in the Life of Stress: Time Management
Learning time management skills is an easy way to make the day more productive. It also helps to reduce stress and frustration and gives you a feeling of achievement.
Where does the time go? They say that time flies when you’re having fun, but it can also fly when there are too many tasks to be completed in a short amount of time and no one job is more important than the other!
The term time management can be misleading as it has more to do with self-management. It often implies managing your time at work, but these skills can be useful no matter what the situation. Whether you are self-employed, are studying or managing a home, making better use of your time will give you more control.
Procrastination, poor planning, disorganisation and net surfing are just some of the ways that time can be wasted. These factors build up and result in hours being lost each day and you may perform other tasks that seem necessary, but could be reduced to make the day more effective.
Calculate the Value of Your Time
An easy first step in time management is to find out what your time is worth. First you need to calculate the number of days you work during the year, remembering to deduct any bank holidays, holiday time and paid sick days offered to you by your employers. For example, in the UK, you start with 365 days for the year, subtract 104 days for weekends, 20 days for annual leave, 10 days for bank holidays and possibly another five days for paid sick leave. This will leave you with 226 days of work. Now take your gross salary, let’s say £24,000, and divide it by your work days. This gives your daily rate and in this example it would be about £106 a day. If you want to work out your hourly wage, you’d then divide this number by the hours in your day: seven hours gives you an hourly wage of about £15.
Making the Most of Your Time
Recognising where time is lost in your day can help you gain back hours. It’s all a matter of focusing on your goals and realising what you want to achieve.
- Interruptions to your working day can be major obstacle in your attempt to use time effectively. The telephone can be one of these; trying to field telemarketing and sales people, queries from customers or a social call intended to be a pick-me-up could all waste your valuable time. Another is visitors who ‘drop in’, be they colleagues or the boss! Knowing how to deal with interruptions can save you time. Maybe you can ask colleagues not to disturb you in the morning or organise a telephone ‘opt-out’ time do that you can concentrate on the task in hand.
Learn to delegate
- In the workspace, learning to delegate is an important skill. One of the best ways to build a productive team is by delegating and giving other members of the team more responsibility. It builds morale and reduces your workload at the same time. The general rule is that if one of your staff can do the task 80 per cent as well as you can, delegate.
Try to say ‘no’
- Another essential skill in time management is learning to say ‘no’ – but in a courteous way! If people find that they can dump their work or problems on to your shoulders – they will. It’s likely that the most stressed people in your office lack this skill, or fear using it because they might upset someone.
Make a decision – fast
- Decision-making is another difficult area to conquer. Procrastination comes in many forms, like “I’ll just watch this programme and make a start after”, or “I’ll do it tomorrow as it’s too late now”, or “I work best under pressure”. Sound familiar? Reducing the amount of time it takes to avoid making a decision will make productivity higher in the long run. Try to make quicker decisions by listening to other opinions, which will give you a more all-round view to the best course of action or the most beneficial solution.
Plan your meetings
- Meetings can waste a lot of time as the agenda is rarely as ‘to the point’ as it could be. Often, nearly as much as a third of your time during a meeting is wasted due to poor forward planning and a lack of objectives. Making a note of the points you want to raise so that you don’t forget is one simple way of making the time more constructive.
Realise your goals
- A lack of priorities and objectives can affect your life on a professional and personal basis. Those who accomplish the most in their day generally know what they want to achieve and set themselves daily goals and ‘to do’ lists. Remember that although focus is mainly concentrated on major goals, daily or weekly ones are just as important.