Time—Are You Its Master or Its Slave?
8 Ways to Manage Your Time

By Rosa Chillis

“WHY are you so late?” asked the teacher as Joseph walked into the classroom. “Because I ran alongside my bicycle all the way to school,” Joseph replied almost out of breath.

“Why didn’t you ride your bike?” asked the teacher curiously. “Because,” explained Joseph, “I was so late I didn’t have time to stop and get on the bike.”

This exaggerated, comical story illustrates a situation that many of us face daily. Rushed, with many tasks to be done and deadlines to be met, we may feel that we are racing from one thing to the next. But, like Joseph, we sometimes slow ourselves down by concluding that we do not have the time to stop and reorganize for effectiveness.

Nevertheless, we could save time, accomplish more in the long run, and reduce stress if we did pause to sharpen our skills in managing time. Then, instead of viewing time as a relentless master, it could be a helpful servant.

How can you achieve more effective management of your time? Following are some suggestions. As you read them, choose those that fit your needs and adapt them to your circumstances.

1) Plan your day. Imagine that your day has just begun. Before you is a seemingly endless number of tasks. The thought of all these duties may cause you to dread the day. Where should you begin? By planning your day. Start by writing what is known as a To Do List. Check off each item as it is completed.
2) Set priorities. You can set priorities by numbering each item on your list according to importance. Then to the extent possible, handle each activity in that order. Of course there will be times when you may choose not handle a matter in strict priority order. Your objective is to stay in control so that what you do accomplish each day is by choice rather than by chance
3) Keep a time log. To find out where your time is going, keep a time log for one or two weeks. Do you waste time on unimportant tasks? Do most of your interruptions come during a certain part of the day or week? Eliminate time-wasting activities that have crept in.
4) Distinguish between “urgent” and “important.” Urgent matters are not always important. Consider the results each task will bring. Important tasks produce significant benefits. So ask yourself which activities are truly important. Then try to spend most of your time on these.
5) Apply the 80/20 rule of thumb. This principle was formulated by the 19th-century Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto. It states that only about 20 percent of the causes produce about 80 percent of the results. Analyze your to-do list and identify what 2 out of 10 tasks are most important to achieve your objective. Do these things first. You will get the most results in the least amount of time.
6) Delegate work whenever possible. It frees you to accomplish more, and gives experience to others.
7) Don’t expect perfection. No one is perfect. Concentrate on what is really important. Know when it is time to stop and move on to the next important task.
8) Be flexible.

At this point you can better appreciate that being the master of your time is mostly a matter of discerning what activities yield the best results and spending your time on these whenever possible.

There are no fixed rules for personal organization of your time. To benefit from the suggestions in this article, be flexible. Experiment. Adapt. Discover what works best for you.

By getting better control of your time, what a sense of accomplishment you will have at the end of each day!

You may even feel that—at last—there is enough time for the things that really matter. Then you will not be a victim of hectic circumstances, but will be the master of your time!
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© Copyright 2010 by Rosa Chillis – All rights reserved.

Author's Bio: 

Rosa Chillis is president of Adasane & Associates, Inc., educator, and author specializing in topics related to self-improvement and professional development. Her latest e-book College Students: Time Is on Your Side—Time Management Strategies for School, Work, and Play can be found at http://www.timemanagement9to5.com or http://www.adasane.com