If I could save time in a bottle... was pondered by the late Jim Croce in his 1973 chart-topping song Time in a Bottle. This song captures the thoughts of many who deeply desire to get a hold of things that they feel are slipping through their fingers. It beckons for a sense of control in one's life to capture things of value and not let them get away.
The concept of capturing time for our benefit has been dubbed time management in the corporate world. It is meant to get better results from the time allotted to each person. There is a problem with the concept of time management because we can't really manage time. Time is finite. Beyond our life and scope, time is infinite. So rather than managing time, we should consider how we can manage ourselves better.
Understand Your Personal Time Profile
Most people think they know more about how they spend their time than they actually do. We tend to believe our memories are good enough for an accurate account of the hours and minutes we spend on a given task. That simply isn't true.
If time seems to always be getting away from you, start recording your activities in 15 minute intervals. There are many automated tools that help you determine how you spend your time. The Time Mastery Profile from DiSC is my personal favorite. These tools can give insight and help you see where your time goes.
Opportunities to Manage Time Better
Now that you know where you spend your time, you need to do something with this knowledge and work on incorporating some new tactics that will help get that time back for you.
Email. Email is one of the biggest interruptions in today's workplace. If your computer automatically notifies you when you receive email, turn that function off, especially when you are planning your day. Instead, set up times to check email three times a day, or once per hour. This method is one of the fastest ways to improve productivity.
Organizing Your Day. I have found that simply writing down everything that needs to get done makes the overwhelmed feeling go away--even though the work doesn't. A master list is a way to record your short and long term goals and will get everything out of your head. A to-do list is created every day and only includes tasks you need to complete today.
A master list is updated at the end of each day. Fifteen minutes before you leave work, stop responding to emails, phone calls, and other requests. This is your time. With your calendar open and your master list in front of you, let your mind wander. Brainstorm and document whatever pops into your head.
Delegation. With effective delegation, you save yourself time and expand the capability of your team and organization. One of the most common complaints I hear from managers is, "I try to delegate but when the assignment comes back, it's wrong or it's not good enough. So I end up having to do it myself." When delegated tasks turn out wrong, you must resist the temptation to do it yourself. Doing the work yourself is not good for you or the organization.
Time management can help you increase your productivity on the job and at home, help you enhance the quality of your work with less stress, and give you a sense of personal satisfaction. You never know, you might just find the time to reward yourself and do something you have never had the time for!About the author: Kristi Royse is a nationally recognized executive management coach and motivational speaker. She works with clients on a variety of management issues to help organizations improve effectiveness and achieve increased productivity. If you want to be inspired to action you can reach Kristi at firstname.lastname@example.org.