When we say time, the word management is not too far behind. So what’s the connection with time and management? Can we really “manage” time?
The short answer is no. I’m sorry to break it to you but time cannot be managed. It can however be used. How we use it depends on how we manage the most challenging thing: ourselves. Let’s be real with one another here. Time management and self management require us to be brutally honest with ourselves and to get a real grip on the issues at hand. Many times, we are required to focus on more than one thing at a time. That’s just how it goes. But there are strategies we can use to remain in control of how our time is being spent.
1. It’s your fault
The bottom line? If you let people take advantage of your time, they will. Nobody is going to value your time if you don’t. Don’t be afraid to (firmly) remind others – and yourself, through both word and deed that your time is precious. If you begin to feel that someone is taking advantage, be honest and tell them that you've spent as much time as you possibly can to help them and politely point them in another direction. Be courteous but firm. You may not get the results you want the first time, but as with most things, practice makes perfect.
2. Keep it moving
Remember this: time-management isn't a time problem, it’s a task problem. It is 100% mandatory that you decide what your priorities are and how to best arrange them to maximize productivity. Sorting through all of your work and life responsibilities can be challenging – but it’s spring cleaning time. You shouldn’t keep old shoes that you’re never going to wear around your closets. Likewise, you shouldn’t keep old projects around that you’re not going to complete. Let them go and keep it moving.
3. Play favorites
If the goal is to respect your time, prioritizing is a must. Yes it’s hard and no it doesn’t easily mesh with our frenzied, multitasking way of life, but focusing on one task at a time is essential for ultimate success. If you’re working on a project and someone asks you for something, don’t be afraid to say “My schedule is tight right now, but I’ll be happy to address this at a later time.” Then use some free time to catch up and communicate necessary responses.
Don’t try the “I don’t like to delegate” line with me. If you are managing others (or learning how to one day do just that) delegating is vital to your success. If there is a task to be done, an averagely competent person will be able to do it. It may not be done the way you would have prefered – but don’t let perfect be the enemy of good enough.
5. Remain self aware
Even though we try to do our best, there are bound to be glitches along the way. The fine art of management requires that a leader ‘fess up as soon as they realize there is a problem. Don’t try to brush something under the rug, and definitely don’t make excuses. If someone else has been affected, include them as soon as you can and offer appropriate apologies. This is not about saving face, it’s about saving the relationship.
Managing staff and inventory is challenging enough, yet we advised to “manage” time as well. Just remember, this is a skill that can be learned and honed. As with most things, practice will eventually make perfect.
Christina Philbert (@CmPhilbert) is a Higher Education Consultant, Academic Coordinator, and University Counselor. Interested in revolutionizing education, baking cookies, and painting her nails.