“He who every morning plans the transaction of the day and follows out that plan carries a thread that will guide him through the maze of the busiest life. But where no plan is laid, where the disposal of time is surrendered merely to the chance of incidence, chaos will soon reign.” – Victor Hugo
Very well said, and I agree that we need to plan our work every day. It doesn’t matter whether you’re an office manager, a postman, an entrepreneur, a student, or a mother. Planning or managing your time for the day makes work easier and gives better results. I have compiled some steps on how to manage your time and they’re just easy to follow.
1 PLAN YOUR DAY
A good way to start your day is to devote the first few minutes to create your plan for the day. Remember what Victor Hugo had just said: “But where no plan is laid, where the disposal of time is surrendered merely to the chance of incidence, chaos will soon reign”. Same as going to a war without a strategy, or making an artwork without an outline.
2 SET TIME LIMITS AND BE AWARE OF YOUR DEADLINES
Know your deadlines for your tasks, so you can set a time limit and determine which ones to work on first. Give yourself enough time to finish the task while making sure that you’ll meet the deadline.
Organise your things and thoughts. Take advantage of your computer system and phone apps to stay organised. You can use apps for calendars, organisers, note-taker to create your To-Do List and set alarms for the task.
Notice that the 2nd step I gave you is to know your deadlines so you’ll know which one to prioritise. I remember using coloured paper clips to prioritise my work when I was an accounting clerk, I usually used red paper clips for invoices that need to be sent out first, then orange for the next priority, and green for “not so urgent”. It made my work easy. Although my colleagues thought it was weird, it worked for me. Prioritising your urgent tasks prevents cramming when deadlines come near.
5 ELIMINATE DISTRACTIONS
Mind the amount of time you spend watching TV, playing games, and browsing your social media accounts. These are the biggest drains on productivity. Eliminate or block distractions that keep you from doing your tasks with all your focus.
6 CONCENTRATE AND FOCUS
Concentrate on one task at a time and maintain focus. Sometimes, too much multitasking can result in nothing ever getting done, so close off the tabs and browsers not related to the task that you’re working on. Or, remove the things that take away your attention and focus solely on what you’re doing. You’ll avoid errors and feel the momentum.
7 DON’T BE A PERFECTIONIST
Often times, we fuss about small details that make results imperfect, so it drags us down and results in slow productivity. Keep in mind that nothing’s perfect and we cannot get a task done exactly the way we want it to be. Although using the imperfection and your imagination can transform it into something better.
8 LEARN TO SAY “NO”
Go ahead and put up a “Do not disturb” sign, especially when you need to get things done. Learn how to say No to things that you cannot handle. Take responsibility for the tasks which you have time for and within your scope, although going an extra mile will be very much appreciated, but make sure you can still accomplish them.
9 DELEGATE AND SHARE
Delegate the task which can be done better by others so you can focus on the important tasks. Although this is just applicable for those in supervisory positions you can also share uneasy tasks with co-workers so they can help you get fast and better results.
10 TAKE A BREAK BETWEEN TASKS
Taking a buffer-time in between tasks allows you to wrap up from the previous task and create a fresh mind for the next task. Take some time to go for a short walk, meditate or relax, then your mind and body should be ready for the next one.
Finally, when all tasks are done, whether it’s just a small accomplishment or a big project, don’t forget to enjoy your success and reward yourself. A good massage or a food treat will be enough to remind you that you’ve done a good job. Give yourself a pat on the back, and keep motivated in improving your time management skills more.
And hear him (Victor Hugo) say “He carries a thread that will guide him through the maze of the busiest life.”