Successfully managing your time results in accomplishing what is most important to you. When you don’t accomplish what you want, you may feel unfocused, disorganized, and frustrated. Many people try a variety of time management techniques, without much success. This often happens because they didn’t identify the goals most important to them or use appropriate time management techniques for meeting those goals. The following myths can contribute to poor time management, weakening your ability to establish and manage your priorities:
Myth #1: My life is completely controlled by external events.
Fact: You have control over many aspects of your life, but you are solely responsible for initiating that control. Learn to recognize what you can and can’t control before making choices. Anticipate the future and clarify the external demands that may cause challenges. From there, determine what you can do, and within what time frame, regardless of the demands.
Myth #2: I must meet everyone else’s expectations.
Fact: In trying to meet the expectations of others, you may be shortchanging yourself and your needs. First become clear about what your needs are and then consider what others expect of you. The needs and demands of others may be different from yours. Trust yourself to effectively lead your own life. Decide for yourself what is important. Reality is the only expectations you need to meet are your own.
Myth #3: I should not have limits.
Fact: We all have limits . . . failure to acknowledge this may cause you to become perfectionistic in your expectations. Perfectionists are especially prone to procrastination because the perfection they demand is impossible. Be realistic about what you need to accomplish and how you will measure success.
While it is important to develop your own methods for managing time and work, consider how the following techniques may help set you up for success:
- Use your biological rhythms to your advantage. Identify the times of day when your energy levels are at their highest and do your most important work at those times.
- Optimize your work environment. Stock your workspace with the things you need and make sure the physical environment fosters concentration, not just comfort. You may need to experiment to find the right work environment. For example, some work best in a quiet setting while others work best with background music. Find what works best for you!
- Schedule blocks of work time. Protect your time by saying “no” to various interruptions, activities, or requests. Unplug your phone and disconnect from email during this scheduled block of time. Return telephone calls and emails when it is more convenient for you, perhaps when you take a break.
- Determine your goals and prioritize them. Get really clear about what you want to accomplish. Then prioritize your goals by urgency and importance. By categorizing your goals, you can get a better gauge where to focus your time and energy. Successful time management requires effective prioritization.
- Avoid over planning. Beyond a certain point, adding more steps or techniques to your time management process may create time management problems rather than resolve them.
How do you manage your time? Let us know in the comments!