(previously published in a local newspaper “The Mindanao Current” year 2006. I’ve edited some of it just to make it relevant).
It has been said that time is gold. We’ve heard about this old age adage over an over and yet we occasionally pay little attention to what it really implies. Time is an imperative part of our life and it is a must to make every second count. Managing one’s time is like productivity in every dime because once we get things organized, we tend to become very efficient and we at most succeed in finishing the things we wish to do, in fact saving more time and in some instances, money.
So what’s the first in time management? Marquis and Huston (2003) in their book on Leadership and Management state that there are three basic steps in time management. The first step requires that we set aside some time for planning and prioritizing tasks. Second step deals with doing the prioritized tasks first and the final step, the reprioritizing of tasks to accomplish based on new information received.
In planning, we determine the tasks involved for the job and estimate the time frame in which they will be completed. It’s better that they be listed down on paper because the mind normally can’t hold information for so long. Label them or settle a “to do list”. After all the tasks have been listed down, prioritize them according to importance. I used to be a crammer in school but as senior year approached (well, still a crammer at times), the feeling of having butterflies in the stomach is eased away the moment I plan things out. In addition, it helps make school work a breeze.
With planning comes priority setting. The setting of priorities is crucial because tasks can have relative importance. There comes a time when two different activities or tasks appear to be equal in weight. Choosing which among which therefore entails thorough evaluation and decision-making given that the tasks must be sorted out based on how they carry the bulk of the job. They must be assessed as to how each will affect the outcome of the work. It is a skill that once practiced, will be less of a problem in the future.
I once enrolled in a class on leadership and management. Time management was one of the concepts tackled in the course. It was taught to us that in setting priorities for tasks, it is better that they be categorized as the “do now items”, “don’t do items”, and the “do later items”. The “do now items” include those tasks which have to be performed urgently. They are the activities that must be considered on the top of the list, the ones which bear most of the weight among all the tasks listed. The “don’t do items” include the tasks that you do not have to perform because these tasks are to be delegated to other people, just like how managers of a restaurant delegate the cooking tasks to their chefs. If there are things that must be done in an instant and things that should only be delegated to others, there are also things which must be done at a later time. These include the tasks that are of the least in priority, tasks which can be managed afterwards.
Though the plans have already been set and activities have already been prioritized, it is better to anticipate that they may change as the situation calls. One must be flexible with different circumstances and thus, reprioritizing should occur as a result of new information received and in what the situation has called for. Adjusting schedules according to priority will do the trick. Weigh them according to importance and modify task schedules as appropriate for the present.
Knowing time management steps is not enough though, for there are other factors that we have to consider as well. Procrastination, which is the setting aside of tasks or the act of postponing for future time, is considered a trap in good time management. Being human, we sometimes feel like setting tasks aside, especially when we think that we can move it at a later time because our favorite TV show is on the run, or the ball game is just starting. But even if we are left with the tedious feeling of doing things, it can be prevented if we remind ourselves to be wary of the traps all the way through.
Once all has been set and everything is on schedule, providing a moment to relax and taking a vacation once in a while can make one age a little less despite the hectic schedule one dwells in and is healthy-wise I tell you. It is a fact that people are able to work efficiently when breaks are taken once in while. Being stressed out in work and making one’s self too busy all the time can only turn the day sour. So whenever caught in between hectic moments, take it easy, sit and chat for a while. It’s always nice to while the stress away but also be mindful of the breaks making sure that they don’t overstretch.
As we apply the essentials of time management in our life, along the way we discover that each one of us has his/her own style. In one way or another, it is best to choose the style which we are comfortable with, but remember to finish tasks as planned, list them down, work with them according to priority and never to forget to take breaks from time to time.