Many of us underestimate the value of time and take it for granted because time just goes on and on. We often say ‘we’ll do it tomorrow’ or ‘l’ll do that when I have time.’ What we fail to understand is that time is a valuable resource – it may actually be our most valuable resource. You have the same amount of time each day as world leaders such as The President and the Prime Minister. You have the same amount of time as successful entrepreneurs such as Richard Branson and Bill Gates. You have the same amount of time as world famous entertainers such as Lady Gaga and Katy Perry or that person you know that is organised and on top of things. Your education, social standing and wealth doesn’t make a difference to the amount of time you get – no matter what happens we all get exactly the same amount of time, 1,440 minutes a day.
Control of time is the key to being efficient in what we do. It’s an important skill to develop so that we can accomplish more tasks than we want to get done every day.
When we haven’t planned our day and just ‘go with the flow’ we often know what we have to do but we don’t consider the order of importance of our tasks.
How Do You Spend Your Time?
We know we’re busy however have you ever stopped to think about what you are busy doing? What are you trying to achieve each and every day? Why is it that you get lots of ‘little tasks’ completed but not the important tasks that you really wanted to get done?
Peter Drucker the author of ‘The Effective Executive’ recommends that we take a moment and analyse the way we are spending our time. This is a chance to learn whether you:
Are focusing on important things or are you wasting your time on low value busywork?
Could spend your time in better ways?
Need to make changes?
He identified that effective executives follow three key steps to manage their time better:
1. They analyse the way they use their time and think about better ways of using it
2. They find wasteful and unproductive uses of their time and reduce them systematically
3. They consolidate their time into large chunks that they can use for their most important work.
Time Tracking Exercise
So for the next week:
1. Record each activity you start
2. Estimate the time you think the activity will take
3. Record the actual time the activity took
You will have a better understanding of how you use your time. As well as whether you are accurate when you estimate the time a task will take. As a general rule we underestimate how long a task will take. If we are underestimating the time a task will take that often leads to us overscheduling the number of activities or tasks to complete each day.
We will now be able to see what we are spending our time on, look at what tasks we can stop doing and delegate.
In this step, you are transitioning from
“How AM I spending my time?”
“How SHOULD I be spending my time?”
Once you have completed the time tracking exercise you start to be more conscious of how long tasks take to do. You’ll be conscious of when you are wasting time and when you are using your time well.
LifeStyle Refocus conducts workshops on Time Management and Productivity for small and medium businesses. www.lifestylerefocus.com.au