The clocks went back last night so I decided to conduct a little experiment. What would happen if I threw away my watch for the day? Being a Sunday we had very few commitments but, even so, I found myself floundering because I didn´t know what time it was. Should I eat if it wasn´t our usual lunchtime? Was it time to walk the dog or phone my in laws, hang out the washing or go to bed? It was a very empowering but stressful experience demonstrating just how addicted to our watches we really are.
Clearly, never knowing the time is not an option in modern society. We all have places to be and people to see so if we can´t do away with our watches altogether, the next best option is to manage our time in such a way that we bend it to our advantage. Here´s how to get yourself organised.
- Find out where your time goes. Well we´ve all been there; we hit the end of a very busy day and ask ourselves where has all the time gone and what have we actually achieved today. The odd day like that affects us all from time to time and doesn´t really matter in the great scheme of things but if this is becoming a regular occurrence for you then it´s time to take stock of how you are using your time. Spend the next seven days conducting a time and motion study. Get a piece of paper and make three columns. One with a start time, the next the finish time and then space for a description of the task you have completed. You should do this so that you have a complete record of your day from getting up in the morning to going to bed at night with no gaps. Do this for a whole week.
- Plug the leaks. Congratulations if you have got to the end of the week and finished your time and motion study. Although it may have seemed like an onerous task, it will now give you the opportunity to analyse the results and work out where you are leaking precious time. What activities are you completing which are unnecessary or taking too long? What can be delegated? How can you do the boring ones in quicker time? Be honest with yourself. We all have certain activities what we do just to allow us some downtime: watching TV or going on social media for example and whilst it doesn´t hurt to allow yourself a bit of free time, it is worth reducing this to a minimum or not allowing yourself to do it until the rest of the day´ s jobs have been taken care of.
- Put all your fruit in the jar. Imagine you have a big empty glass jar. You have a handful of grapefruits, a few apples, some grapes and a carton of orange juice. If you start by filling your jar to the brim with orange juice, you will not be able to get anything else in it but if you put in a few grapefruits, apples and then grapes and finally pour in the juice, you will have a little of everything in your jar. Let´s pretend that the grapefruits represent urgent and important jobs, apples are the important tasks which aren´t very urgent, grapes are urgent but really not very important and the juice represents the stuff that we all love to do but is meaningless. The key is to take care of the important tasks first before moving on to the urgent ones. That way, you will maximise your time. Don´t switch on the TV or message your friends until you have got though your day´s workload.
- Dreaming Big. When we get to the end of our life, we want to be able to say that we have no regrets and that we have lived a full life. It is so easy to get to the end of a day and realise we have not accomplished anything of any real value. To ensure we don´t have this hollow feeling as the sun is setting, we need to factor in our goals and aspirations and make sure we tackle these things first. Spend some time dreaming about your future and writing down your aspirations. Make them daring and dramatic and look at what small actions you can take to make them a reality. Write down a list of the things you can do to help you achieve your dreams.
- The Mega List. And now to commit it all to paper. Brainstorm everything that you can think of that you need to add to your “to do” list. It doesn´t matter how big or how small, you need to capture it onto your list. Get some highlighter pens and categorise the list into “grapefruits, apples, grapes and juice.” Once you have decided whether they are urgent or important or neither, you can start putting them in your diary. Ensure you don´t overdo it. Just put enough tasks into each day to stretch you but not overwhelm you and bear in mind that other things will crop up that you need to allow time for. Check your diary for five minutes at the end of each day so you can get cracking as soon as you are ready to start in the morning. Always start with your dreams and aspirations so you can say you have achieved something at the end of the day.
And that´s pretty much all there is to it. If you keep on schedule each day, you will start to feel wonderful about your achievements. The results you experience will increase your enthusiasm and as these feelings gather momentum, you will get an incredible buzz. You will feel in complete control and positive and motivated about your successes.