Constructive time management

Most management textbooks define resources as those things required to get the job done. People, money, machines, raw materials and physical facilities are all obvious examples. Yet there is another type of resource that we tend to overlook. That resource is time.

All of your resources can be replaced except for time. If people leave, you can employ others. If you lose money, you can declare bankruptcy, find new investors and try again. If you lose a shipment of materials, you can send for a replacement. However, if you waste time it is lost forever and can never be replaced or retrieved.

Would you agree or disagree with the following statement: “I could get more work done if I worked harder?” It’s a fallacy that hard work will always result in productivity. Thus, the goal of improved time management is not to work harder but to work smarter.

Here are some ways to save time through planning:

  1. Commit yourself to yearly goals for personal development and professional accomplishment. Translate yearly goals into monthly goals and into TO DO lists that are revised weekly and daily.

  2. Spend 20 minutes at the beginning of each week and 10 minutes at the start of each day planning your TO DO list. Ask yourself what you will achieve this week/day. Place these objectives into three categories according to their importance to you. Work on the most difficult category first, and then go on.

  3. Create a time-analysis chart of your activities. Break your day into 15 minute blocks. After logging your activities for a week or so, you’ll have a representative sample of how your time is spent. Study the results. Decide what you will do to make better use of your time.

  4. Do one thing at a time. Stay with a task until it’s completed. Quality usually suffers when we undertake several tasks at a time.

  5. Carry a small card with you. On it, note everything that happens during the day that you want to remember. Mark down every commitment you make and every event you’ll need to recall.

  6. Carry work or reading material with you everywhere. Be productive when others keep you waiting or when you’re stuck in traffic.

  7. End the day by listing all of tomorrow’s important tasks.

In the morning, incorporate these tasks into your TO DO list. Since stockpiling time isn’t possible, all we can do is manage how well we actually spend it. In short, we save time by spending it wisely.