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Tips on Time Management - Which Advice to Follow?
Self Excellence » Personal Development

Chrm Message From: shabbarsuterwala Total Posts: 18 Join Date:
Rank: Executive Post Date: 17/03/2006 02:32:13 Points: 90 Location: India

Hi Friends,

Greetings from Shabbar Suterwala.

Time Management - Which Advice to Follow?

There are so many books on Time Management that it is difficult to find the time to read and digest them all.

What happens to most people is that they buy a book on Time Management, read it, decide that some parts of it may suit them, but then fail to adequately integrate the system into their lives. This is partly due to inadequacies in the system itself, and partly due to the inherently difficult nature of learning a new system - the equivalent to learning a new habit.

What the books don't tell you is that each different time management system is not necessarily suitable to all people or for all uses for which people need them.

Finding the right combination of the basic methods is entirely individual depending on both the nature of the tasks that are required to be done and the nature of the individual who is implementing the strategy.

This is where an overview of the basic systems is useful.

Basic Time Management Systems

To-Do Lists. Write a list of things that need to be done and then do them in that order. They can be distinguished from Checklists that are wonderful for breaking a project down into smaller tasks that can be ticked off regularly. Also a suggestion that instead of writing everything on the to-do list and making a big list - write down what is Important that needs to be done.

Prioritisation. This is pretty simple - you write down the list of things you have to do and then put them in order of priority. Then you do them in that order. What you may do is have priority for office tasks, home chores, emergencies and make seperate priority lists for different projects.

"Do it now". A journey of thousand mile begins with the first simple step. So Act NOW. A favourite with people who handle a lot of paper - this is basically a preventative measure for procrastination. If you need to do action something, you do it now. Its very good for procrastinators, routines and tasks which are vital for function. Be Cautious where there are a lot of different aspects which need equal attention, as here you can end up spending all your time on one area as you have to "do it now"!

"Do the thing you fear most first". “Do the things you fear and the fear will disappear.” A form of prioritisation, this is also good for procrastinators as it has a great kernel of truth in it, in terms of the fact that once the most-feared thing is done, the rest will be easier in comparison. Very good for personal growth and conquering fears and phobias.

Scheduling. Prepare to put things in your list with time lines attached and then you take action on them according to the time. At times it may be difficult to estimate the exact length of time something will take, and doesn't take interruptions, delays and other unexpected issues into account, so you need to also take some time for contingencies or failures.

While all of these are very useful in particular situations, and for particular people, they often work best in combination with each other. Individual tools just don't work on a consistent basis.

So why are these tools not working?

There is something which underlies the whole issue of time management which makes any solution you apply the equivalent of a plaster on an otherwise untreated wound.

Time is not the variable here - there is the same 24 hours in every single day. Human attention is the vital variable - focussed attention gets things done, while distractions and poor organisation fragment attention so that tasks do not get done. Remember days where a lot gets done, and remember days when you just couldn't concentrate on any single thing long enough to get it completed? This is down to your attention span. It changes from person to person, but research shows that the average person can concentrate fully for about 20 minutes at a time, before the attention starts wandering.

Improve Your Attention Span (Learn to say "NO": You need to learn to say  "NO". Often the case is that you are allowing yourself to be interrupted which is causing the distraction (even if it appears to be in the job description that you must down tools when the boss calls). You can still put systems into place to ensure that you don't get distracted - and get a block of time available to focus your attention in. Even a response to the person at the door of "just a second, let me just finish this bit off" can mean that you don't waste the first five minutes after a distraction trying to remember where you were. 

Choose the right system for you: Look at the list above and decide what your main tasks are which match what each system is best suited for. Then implement a combination of them. Often all you need to do is integrate your priority list with a scheduled list (by using a diary with a loose piece of paper as your priority list of unscheduled items - just remember to allow time in your schedule to complete the unscheduled items).

Give it some time: Learning and implementing a new time management system is like learning a new habit - and just as difficult as it is something extra to remember. It can take up to 3 weeks to be sure that the new habit is learned, at which point it will be second nature to use your system. If it doesn't work for you, just modify it a bit and try again - it can be something as simple as buying a larger diary so that you can use just one item to record your tasks, meetings etc.

Distraction Management – “Closed Door”
Locate your regular distractions and set up a plan to minimise them. I am not saying remove them - that would be rather difficult, unless you moved to heaven.

This can be through implementing a system where you are not available to be distracted at work for a set amount of time, on the premise that you will get back to them with an actual answer to their problem the moment you are able to. While this may not be too popular with some of your co-workers (because you are not available at the drop of a hat), the fact that if you are able to be more productive during normal working hours, you will actually be able to leave work on time a bit more often. Make sure though that when you do get back to people after a no-distraction period, that you answer their question/query fully and swiftly.

Time management is not difficult; it is the various things that are fundamental to them being able to work that are the complicated parts. So long as you are able (both physically and mentally) to focus your attention you should find that time can be managed better.

Remember though that there is no one-size fits all in the world of time management systems - you will need to try out one or two before you find the perfect one that works for you. Just make sure you choose the ones that are suitable for the tasks that are part of your daily life.

"There is no greatness where there is not simplicity, goodness, and truth." Leo Tolstoy

Pls. share your feedback on the same.

For In-House "TIME MANAGEMENT WORKSHOP" contact details below.

With Kind Regards
Shabbar Suterwala
Corporate Soft Skills Trainer
Ph: +91 989 222 5864
eMail: ShabbarSuterwala@Hotmail.Com

Chrm Message From: CHRM Total Posts: 209 Join Date:  
Rank: Coach Post Date: 18/03/2006 04:34:26 Points: 1045 Location: India

Dear Shabbar,

This article so very truly exposes our attributes. Like me too have experienced the same while I remember reading a book on Time Management some time back. It's the fact that we try to inhibit some of the skills and techniques that we learn from reading these books to apply them in our personal and professional lives. But yes, we fail to practice them in certain areas which also in the long run diversifies our attention away from also the one's that we had been successful in applying at certain stages and behaviors.

So the tips mentioned by you are of utmost significance and could really be fruitful enough if followed regularly with discipline. Coz what I have recognised in the past few years is the motto of time management is strictly discipline. You need to have a disciplined behavior to work closely with time management. But people start off with the same as a new year resolution and drift away too soon to even pondering over the same later.

Discipline + Effective Practise = Successful Time Management  

Secondly, we need to examine our time stealers, the one's which interrupt in our disciplinary behavior and are a hinderance to time management. Some of them could rather be :

-Interruptions - telephone
-Interruptions - personal visitors 
-Procrastination and indecision
-Acting with incomplete information 
-Unclear communication 
-Unclear objectives and priorities
-Lack of planning
-Stress and fatigue
-Inability to say "No"  and etcetra.

Time management is indeed not a difficult subject to understand or to follow or practise, but unless you are committed to build time management techniques into your daily routine you'll only achieve partial or probably no results at all.

Over to the members for their views on the same ; )


Saumil Joshi 

Chrm Message From: shabbarsuterwala Total Posts: 18 Join Date:  
Rank: Executive Post Date: 20/03/2006 06:59:28 Points: 90 Location: India

Yes Saumil,

Discipline is one of the keys to Effective Time Management.

Also, what I would go ahead and say is that "You just cannot manage time, bcos, time travel always at a pre-determined rate all the time. Nither fast nor slow - Tic - Tac - Tic - Tac. We have no control over this amazing cycle."

So what we have control on is on ourselves and not on time.

Saumil, I think we must carry this discussion further - "Time Management or Self Management?"

Awaiting further comments from others members...


Shabbar Suterwala


Chrm Message From: Shenoi Total Posts: 1 Join Date:  
Rank: Beginner Post Date: 29/01/2014 13:11:37 Points: 5 Location: India

Thanks for sharing this great tips. I often find myself saying I don't have the time. Recently I have found that using a task list and time management software is the most useful technique to manage proper schedule.

Then, I started to try those techniques. I review my task list and recorded time details on every night as I need to prepare for the next day. I have found by doing this I free up most of my time to catch up on other tasks. Also I will find more time to look into other projects as well. I prefer using Replicon for time management.

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