Tips For Better Time Management

24 Dec, 2009 || by

How many times have you taken a book or two or three with you on a trip, only to return home with not one of them read?  We are all horrible at calculating free time.  We start off with high expectations only to become disappointed when confronted by reality.

Each week we have the gift of 168 hours…no more, no less.  This amount of time is the same for all of us regardless of whether we are princes or paupers.

In the average week, we tend to sleep about one-third of the time (56 hours), work for one-third (men tend to spend an extra hour per day doing this), and have the remaining one-third to do everything else.  That leaves approximately 56 hours for leisure time.  “Leisure time” as defined here includes preparing and eating meals, shopping, child care, house work, yard work, personal hygiene, paying bills, commuting to and from work, etc.

Interestingly, surveys indicate that almost one half of our leisure time is spent watching TV, leaving us with only 28 hours to do everything else.  In comparison, only about 8 minutes a day is spent on volunteering or on religious or spiritual activities.

80/20 Rule:

A popular theory called Pareto’s Principle or the 80/20 Rule, states that focusing your time and attention to the most important 20 percent of your priorities will bring an 80 percent return on your effort.  Likewise, in anything we do (including our use of time), 20 percent is vital while 80 percent is trivial.  You can apply the 80/20 Rule to almost anything:

–      80% of your phone calls go to 20% of the names on your list

–      80% of your tools only get used 20% of the time

–      80% of the clothes in your closet get worn only 20% of the time

–      80% of the cars have 20% of their seats occupied

How the 80/20 Rule applies to the idea of time is that 80 percent of our time is spent on less productive actions.  It is the other 20 percent that tends to result in our greatest returns.  We need to be able to prioritize our time more effectively, especially that all important 20 percent.

Chinese author and philosopher Lin Yutang once said, “Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists of the elimination of the nonessentials.

Time Stealers

In order to make better use of that all important 20 percent, it is helpful to identify a few of the main “time stealers,”  all of which can be divided into two categories, internal (worry, perfectionism, procrastination, fatigue, messiness, poor skills, etc.) and external (prolonged phone calls, waiting in lines, inadequate help, socializing, etc).  Overall, the vast preponderance of time stealers are internal.

Most internal time stealers boil down to “not being able to say no” (which leaves us vulnerable to unnecessary visits, long phone calls, trivial errands, nonessential tasks and so-called obligations) and “insufficient delegation” (which results in our having to do many family and professional tasks which could be done by others).   Remember, if you don’t decide how to spend your time, someone else will.

Of the many types of external time stealers, the primary culprits are interruptions and distractions.  On average, we experience an interruption or distraction about once every 8 minutes.  There are 4 types of interruptions/distractions: Crucial, Important, Little Value, and No Value.  Only about 20% of interruptions and distractions fall into the categories of Crucial or Important (which also agrees with the 80/20 Rule).  It is therefore very important that we learn to discriminate between these types and strive to eliminate those with little or no value.

Types of time:

In addition to the many routine and necessary areas in which we spend our time, there are also many other areas of time expenditure that, if we had the opportunity to indulge in them, it could create within us a greater feeling of satisfaction, interest and fulfillment.  These types of time include:

–      Time for the body

–      Time for leisure

–      Time for sensuality

–      Time for consumption

–      Time for travel

–      Time for rest

–      Time for love

–      Time for others

–      Time for family

–      Time for reading

–      Time for personal development

–      Time for creating

–      Time for meditating

–      Time for spirituality

–      Time for solitude

If you had only 6 months to live, to which area(s) would you devote more time?

Something else you might try is to substitute the word “life” for “time” in the following statements:

–      “Am I using my time well?”

–      “That takes time

–      “I’m losing time

–      “I’m going to spend some time on that”

–      “I need more time

–      “I need to master my time

“Guard well your spare moments.  They are like uncut diamonds.  Discard them and their value will never be known.  Improve them and they will become the brightest gems in a useful life.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Since you can’t change time, you must instead change your approach to it.  Even small changes can realize big results.  By better managing 15 minutes a day, you can gain 91 hours, or 4 days, per year!  Start small – better manage that 20 percent.  Learn to say “No” more often, especially to those interruptions and distractions that fall into the “Little” or “No” Value categories.   Learn to delegate some of the less productive 80 percent to others.  For example, have the kids clean their own rooms and/or bring their dirty clothes to the laundry room.

In general, try spending a little time on “time”.

Bookmark and Share
Tags: ,

Leave a Reply

If you'd like a picture to show up by your name, get a Gravatar.