Manage Time Effectively

Open for: Interactive Workshop: Managing Time Effectively

Discover how to redirect your actions so to integrate the highest payoff activities that make the biggest difference in your success.

Benjamin Franklin once said, “Time is money.” We obviously can’t argue with the concept. However, in reality, time is much more valuable than money. If we lose or waste money we can make it again. If we lose or waste time, it is gone forever. It is a shrinking commodity. How and where we invest our time directly relates to the quality of our lives. Time management is about doing the appropriate actions when necessary in accor­dance with our goals, values, and being in-sync with our purpose.

There are five options to choose from when you’re addressing a task in your life. It comes down to the five Ds for managing your time and becoming more effective.

  • Design –– Make proactive positive choices. Design your high-payoff activities and best practices for each area of your life.
  • Disregard — If the time, effort or money it takes to do it does not justify the benefits you receive, then this is a task you can ignore in your life with relatively little negative consequences.
  • Diminish — The task or activity is worth the time but not as much time as you may be putting into it. It may be a good idea to consciously reduce the amount of time you spend doing this activity on a regular basis.
  • Delegate — the task or activity needs to be done, and it can be delegated safely and effectively. Many people under delegate because they have outdated attitudes about asking for or hiring help. Sometimes people under-delegate because they are simply being cheap. An old adage is “penny wise but dollar foolish.” They don’t want to shell out the money it might take to delegate the job. This can lead to missing wonderful opportunities to increase income by having the time to do higher-payoff activities or simply losing out because you are denying yourself more enjoyable activities.
  • Do it — If it is an activity that can’t fit into the other three categories, then just do it. Make it happen. Get on with it. Why whine and moan; why put off and procrastinate? Life is too short. Stop trying to avoid what is best for your own well-being. Learn to do it, and do it well. Make it a habit to get it done. Enjoy the benefits of empowering yourself to do what you need to do to successfully and continuously improve the quality of your life.

A college professor once used this demonstration to educate his students on the principles of time man­agement. He placed a five-gallon glass jar on top of a laboratory bench in front of the class. From under­neath the bench, he pulled up a sack of rocks and proceeded to fill the glass jar to the top with rocks. Then he asked the class “Is this jar full?” The class responded, “Yes.” He said, “Ah, but wait!” He then pulled a pitcher of gravel from underneath the bench and proceeded to dump gravel around the rocks in the jarWhen he could fit no more gravel in the jar, he asked the class again, “Is this jar full?” The class, now catching on, said, “No.” He said, “Right!” He then pulled a pitcher of sand from beneath the bench and poured the sand in and around the gravel in the jar. When he could fit no more sand in the jar, he asked the class again, “is this jar full?” The class said, “No.” He said, “Right again!” He then proceeded to pull from beneath the bench a pitcher of water. He poured the water to the top of the glass jar. Then he asked the class, “What did you learn from this?” The class, discussing it, came up with a unanimous answer and said, “There is always room for more.” He said, “No that’s not it, you missed the point. We need to put the rocks in first!”

The story relates to the five D’s (Design, Disregard, Delegate, Diminish and Do it!) The water is what you can disregard, the sand is what you can delegate, the gravel is what you can diminish and the rocks are what you need to design and do. Invest your time in things that will help you succeed and improve the quality of your life.

Even though we are in an age of more conveniences than ever before, we seem to have less time for some of the most important things in our life. So often we hear people say that they can’t find the time for the activities that lead to quality in their lives, such as exercise, quality time with their children, or fun and relaxing recreational activities. The priority activities and perpetual action steps are the “rocks” in life that must be accomplished first. Activities chosen as priorities in life need to be scheduled on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. They often rest in per­petuating action steps that are part of the ongoing checklist, which is why the checklist system works so well. The renewing of the cycle and competing against oneself week after week, month after month, stretches the behavioral patterns. It allows the ability to transcend previous levels of accomplishments and for new patterns to take shape. At first, it is a real struggle to find the time. It takes an open mind, a little discipline, and a gener­ous dose of patience and creativity.

We need to be especially vigilant to take the time to spend with our loved ones; they are not going to be around forever. Remember to hold hands, have long talks and cherish the precious moments of love that one day will be a beautiful memory.

We need to start with the concept and belief that we have an abundance of time if we choose to use it correctly. We have 24 hours a day, renewable every day from the day we are born to the day we die. We need to start by believing that time is in abundance and we have enough time to make the most important things in our life happen. If we believe that there is not enough time to do the things that add quality to our life, we will have a very difficult time finding ways to implement the important activities as we operate our life on a day-to-day basis. We need to find out where our time is going, to define our goals clearly, and to determine what action steps both progressive and perpetual that will lead to a higher level of experience and success.

To create positive transformation in how we manage our time has to do with evaluating our present situation. Imple­menting a Daily Time Use Analysis  may be challenging, but the value of the infor­mation and awareness level can be life changing. It requires you to track the use of your time, from the time you are awake until the time you go to bed. It would be very similar to what a nutrition counselor would have you do. They would want you to write out everything you eat for a week because we eat so unconsciously, it’s the only way to track our personal eating patterns to determine where to make the most needed changes.

At the end of each day on the Weekly Time Survey, add up your tasks to see how much time was spent on each task each day. At the end of the week, add up the total time spent on each task. Recent studies have shown that 40 percent of the average American’s free time goes into watching television or more accurately “down the tube”. At this point, it’s time to decide if the time you’re taking to do each task is equal or greater to the benefits you’re receiving from the activity.

The Time Management Sheet can be useful in prioritizing time. Once we look at where our time is going, we need to look at what we can disregard completely, what we can diminish, and then what we can delegate to another person. This exercise should open plenty of time space for your “do it” high pay off activities.

This may sound easier than it really is, mostly because of outdated attitudes that exist in our daily lives. Old habits sometimes die-hard, there are things we do for no logical reason but for the fact that we always did it that way. There’s a well-worn story about the newlyweds sitting down to enjoy a pot roast, their first official meal together. The new husband notices his wife cut the ends off both sides of the pot roast before she cooked it. When he curiously asked her for the reason, she says, “That’s the way mom always did it.” So the husband, undaunted, decides to call his new mother-in-law for further investigation. Her response was, “I don’t really know, but granny always did it that way.” Well, at this point, there was no way he was about to let it go without making one more phone call. So he calls granny and asks why she cut the ends off a perfectly good pot roast and grand mom’s answer was, “When my kids were little, I never had a pot quite big enough.” Sometimes it’s amazing what routines we can find in our life that makes very little sense once we take the time to more objectively look at what we are doing.

It also may mean changing our perspective. Delegation is hard for a lot of people. This can be caused by the guilt you may have been made to feel growing up by not doing all your work yourself. Maybe you’re just too frugal to pay someone to do something you are capable of doing yourself. Sometimes this is a penny wise and dollar foolish situation. What you’re losing is valuable time that could be spent much more productively somewhere else. Often we hear parents say, “I have several chil­dren, I have no time.” In reality, they have several children, to whom they could be teaching and sharing responsibilities, allowing for more quality time to focus on building a good relationship with their children. Then there is, “Do it!, once we decide what it is that we need to do, we need to integrate that activity into a habit. We need to put the rocks in first!

This evaluation of time and analysis of activities is where time management begins. For those who are truly committed to finding the time needed to do the things that improve the quality of their lives, this survey is crucial. It is extraordinary how quickly time moves and how rapidly time can add up. Several years ago, I analyzed my own use of time. I discovered that I was spending more than two hours each day in news-related activity: the morning show, newspapers, the evening news, and CNN. I felt that the amount of time this was taking from my life by consuming too much of this activity was not equal to or greater than the benefits I was receiving. I decided to diminish my news time to 30 minutes or less each day. Calculating the time I had been spending, two hours redirected each day times five days per week comes to 10 hours per week, or 40 hours per month, which is the average workweek. If accumulated over a year’s time, it comes to 12 workweeks, which is three months of what would be considered working full-time. All I did was cut back on my news, and the time it returned to me was equivalent to working from January 1 to April 1 in a full time position every year. That’s a lot of time throughout the year I now have to devote to activities that return to me much greater personal benefits.

How I Spent My Time
am 6:30pm 2:30
pm 12:308:30

At this time you may find it useful to identify your most important to least important activities and total time spent in your day at each level.

Urgent TasksImportant Tasks

We often do things out of habit. We also performed certain task never really consciously aware of the value and benefits attached to the time and effort it takes to get it done. There are many things that we do that we need to ask ourselves if the time and effort you are putting into this is equal to or greater than the benefits you are getting in return. At that point, is when we need to decide which of the five D’s the task belongs to. We always need to be asking ourselves,” Is the time I am putting into this equal to or greater than the benefits I will experience from it?” It may be necessary to reduce the frequency, level of detail or eliminate it completely.

Humans are the only creatures able to perform separate tasks simultaneously without losing track of what they are doing. Scientists at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke have found that one specific form of multi-tasking called branching — where you leave a main task for a secondary task, then return to the main task where you left off — can be mapped to the prefrontal cortex part of the brain. Some people do it instinctively; in others it is a learned behavior.

Some may think of multi-tasking as a jumble of things happening at one time. They’re right. However, it doesn’t need to be frantic. If we study people like airline pilots we realize it can be smooth and deliberate behavior. Recent studies have shown that the average American spends three hours a day in front of the tube. Watching TV is the ideal multi-tasking behavior. So many other things can be accomplished while doing it; chores, exercise and surfing the web just to name a few.

On television shows everyone stays in one environment the entire length on the program. Police and detectives never have to go home, sleep or even use the bathroom. The reality of life is we have many priorities that need to be tended to through out the day and through out the week. Business issues, family events and responsibilities and health maintenance just to name a few. We need to identify what our priorities and objectives are and shift into those focus areas as needed throughout the day and through out the week. Organizing your schedule on a weekly basis seems to be the best approach. It is a rotation of concentration that is needed to develop and maintain quality in multiple areas of our life. Being able to manage our time is almost like an art form we need to embrace and master.

The linear measurement of time is called chrono­logical time, from the Greek word Chronos. However, the Greeks had another way of measuring time. They also had the word kairos, from which they derived the kairological measurement of time. The growth mea­surement of time is the time it takes for maturity and is not always measurable in chronological terms. For example, if you are going to grow pump­kins, you can pick out a date in the spring to turn the soil, choose the right time to plant the seeds, regularly water the seeds, cultivate the ground and weed the garden. These are all chronological timelines. You cannot say for sure, “On October 15, I will pick seven 15-pound pumpkins from this pumpkin patch.” It is not possible to designate chronologically when the pumpkins actually will appear, their size, and the quantity. In the wine country in Napa Valley, California they have a saying, “The grape is the boss!” They understand Mother Nature is on her own pace with perfection. As long as you can continue to trust the process you are using, the timing may take more patience than you originally anticipated.

This is a very helpful philosophy to keep in mind when working toward goals and developing those things that will bring quality to life. Two years ago I had my body fat measured, it was information I really didn’t want to hear. On the positive side, it did motivate me to start a professionally designed exercise program. My goal was to reduce the percentage of my excess body fat by a significant amount by the end of that year. Here I am, two years later and I have only reached half the goal at this time. My body is on kairalogical time and my ego is on chronological time. Instead of being discouraged, I need to keep reminding myself I am at least progressively moving in the right direction. If I stay the course, I will one day realize my goal. A kairological perspective helps us develop patience in the achievement of our goals.

Many times, when people start a business, it does not grow as rapidly as their projected chronological dates. This creates discouragement. The owners do not realize that, at the same time, the business is growing in a kairological sequence. They can chrono­logically add more activities in a shorter period of time or even heighten the quality of activities, but ultimately, kairologically, the business will develop and grow at its own pace. Many times in life, it is helpful to step back and look at growth in terms of kairological time, not chronological time to get a better understanding and a more encouraging attitude. Where belief enters the picture; the farmer is confident he will get pumpkins. Cultivate the belief in your ability to create opportunities, overcome obstacles, and progressively keep moving toward your personal creation.

We do not have the power to slow it down nor is there any guarantee of tomorrow. The opportunity to enjoy life and bring joy to others passes all too quickly, so it is our personal responsibility to invest our time wisely, one day it will surely run out.

The best time control word in the world is the word, “no”. Unwillingness to say no will keep us adding more and more items on our plate. Next time you’re asked to do something, instead of rushing in and agreeing, first get clear about the request. Make sure you really want to take the responsibility and that it will be worth your while. Say yes for the right reasons. Be aware of what you may have to give up by accepting the task or responsibility. We say yes when we want to say no for a number of different reasons.

  1. We feel guilty.
  2. We want to be liked or avoid confrontation.
  3. We are afraid of being criticized.
  4. We have unclear personal goals and priorities. Low self-esteem can magnify any or all of the above reasons.

There are some suggestions on how to say no.

  1. Be firm and calm and say no as soon as possible.
  2. Be honest and brief when explaining. Don’t make up a reason, it will only complicate things.
  3. If the person tries to give you more reasons to say yes just keep repeating your first and honest reason.