The best strategies for time management are dependent on you – as an individual. This is because everyone’s situation is different – either a lot different or a little different – but different means that what may work for me is not guaranteed to work for you. It is not just a difference of lifestyle – we can all guess that a single individual will have different time management needs than a household with two adults and three children. However, even motivation and thinking – otherwise recognized as personality traits – influence how well a time management strategy will be successful. In order to overcome these differences, most self-help items will decidedly try to teach you a new way to think, help you build a new you, and then their techniques will work for you because they are like you, but the fact is, you need to pick time management skills from those that most fit your lifestyle.
Strategies begin in the same place – no matter who you are – by understanding where all your time is going. I can say that I have difficulty understanding where all the minutes ran to each day. I have even checked under the bed in hopes that a few are still just hiding and I can just implement them into the next day; however, there is really only one day to be sure where all these minutes are going. As frustrating and annoying as it is – you have to keep a journal. Now, you were planning on dieting (and who isn’t these days?) this is a good day to start that journal for your food consumption too. If you are already a fairly organized person, your journal will be successful within a week – use it to start analyzing your day. If you are typically very unorganized, you will probably have to practice for a month before even managing a whole week of journal entries of what occurred in your day. You can write it down later – if you have a good memory, but you should write down everything that happened as precisely in time as you can. I myself took a month to remember to write each event and the time it took down, and my memory is not always good enough to just do that at the end of the day. The best way is to get a planner with the days and hours in it – a larger one with room to write or make your own. Simply put the day at the top and each hour of the day below it (with room to input information). After you have a week’s worth of information, evaluate what is eating up your time. This will give you somewhere to start.
Tips and Tricks:
Developing your plans has to depend on your lifestyle; for example, a family of four may simply be looking for some way to keep the family on time to their obligations, while another person may be trying to meet freelance deadlines, and another school assignment due dates. Remember these important tips: the average person needs a ten-minute break away from difficult or frustrating routines approximately every two hours. Children are not an exception to this rule. Schedule all meal breaks without work and in a peaceful environment. There are two bad habits we tend to start – eating in front of our computers, rushing through the fast food shop, and eating in the car. If you do not have time to eat then only snack on healthy foods, if you eat too fast your stomach grows bigger, your appetite is not fulfilled, your digestion can become strained, and the quick raise in sugars (or subsequent drop later) can cause it to be more difficult to work. Remember that healthy snack bars should not contain too much sugar or carbohydrates, and that your snacks should not replace all your meals.
Tip – take a 10-minute break every two hours by walking around the office, stretching, or anything that removes you from the daily routine.
Tip – do not eat at your desk nor in your car, and any time you have less than a full 30 minutes to eat, stick to healthy snacks.
Trick – avoid heavy consumption of sugars or carbohydrates while working, these can make you sleepy or cause a severe decrease in blood sugar levels a few hours later – causing you to be tired, grumpy, and unable to complete your requirements. The best way to avoid eating the wrong foods is to keep healthy snacks near you often; this could be dried fruits, nuts, vegetables, etc.
Inevitably, there are pitfalls to all types of time management that can influence your success, even micro management, friends, family, and other obligations that may change.
Micro management occurs when you schedule your day at such small increments of time that a slight error in calculation or a minor setback results in complete chaos to your schedule. Biggest problems occur with micro management when children are involved – we schedule five minutes for a change of clothes between activities and the children need 10 minutes, or today is the day they are grumpy and do not want to even wear their clothes – 20 minutes later you give up and try to complete the rest of the day’s schedule. Micro management is only successful where it is flexible or no “outside” factors can influence the results. For example, on average it may take 15 minutes to drive to the store, but it is best to plan on 20 or 25 minutes, this will give you spare time if have no problems, but will probably not make you late if there are problems.
Many work-at-home employees suffer a shared problem – because we work in the home, many people do not think or behave as if we are working. Family members interrupt no matter how many times you explain your work schedule or even prepare them for the start of the “workday.” It isn’t just family who may find that it is difficult to understand you are actually working – needy neighbors may call on you, extended relatives may feel that you are free to assist them, and many of your friends may think you should be there when they need you, because you work from home. Even when you define your work schedule, others may not respect it. You must pretend you are the boss – pretend you are running an organization and these people are purposefully trying to pull your employees away from their work – tell everyone “Work time must not be interrupted.”
Time management is a need that is so wide spread there are numerous resources for it everywhere you look. Mind Tools, university sites, and even in advertisements promising to help you manage your time better. The best-laid plans are the plans that work best for you, as a unique individual with unique goals and needs. Here are more resources for time management:
Mind Tools: http://www.mindtools.com/pages/main/newMN_HTE.htm
Mind Tools: http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newHTE_00.htm
Student time management is effective: http://www.time-management-guide.com/student-time-management.html
Recommendations from Universities? http://www.ulc.psu.edu/studyskills/time_management.html
Career management focuses on time management skills too – http://careerplanning.about.com/od/timemanagement/a/time_mgt.htm