This new year, I will encourage you to avoid unnecessary waste of time. That’s why I have chosen to bring you some hints on how to recognise and prune the non-productive, time-wasting activities in your life and consolidate your time for essential tasks.
Time is measured in seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months and years. If you are prone to wasting your seconds and minutes, you will squander your months and years.
After a game, a professional football coach said: “We didn’t lose the game; we just ran out of time.” But if you don’t win a game within the set time, you’ll end up loosing the game. The proper usage of time affects your success or failure. That is why it is important not to waste your valuable time by redeeming your time. You can do this by doing more with less time, by achieving tomorrow’s target today and by investing your time today in a venture that will achieve dividends tomorrow.
Late and lackadaisical
Have you heard of the joke: “He’ll be late to his own funeral?” People who are habitual latecomers would be late to any function irrespective of what others do to help them come early. In the UK, the clock goes back by one hour just before the summer to give people an hour’s head start, yet some people still arrive late for their appointments. People turn up late for engagements even when they set their watches five minutes ahead. They are late for work, church or meetings even if they wake up early.
There appears to be two groups of people. Those who have a good sense of timing and are planners – prepared for most contingencies – and those who tend to run late for just about everything and must to rush at the last minute to get things done.
When latecomers graduate to become chronic latecomers, people might refer to them as “time thieves.” This is someone who has questionable and even faulty conceptions of time commitments, scheduling and time management. Many people in this category think nothing of being late.
Differences in pace often have their roots in deeply ingrained habits and attitudes of a specific culture itself. Certain cultures appear to be chronically laid back and late. Others, such as those in big cities where everything runs to tight schedules, are usually “time aware.”
Time thieves are people who say, “Why do it today, when we can do it tomorrow.” When they need things they say, “I need it yesterday.” Time conscious people plan ahead and say, “I finished it yesterday!”
Some people enjoy the adrenaline rush of cutting things close to deadlines.
Chronically late people may apologise, but they feel guilt-free when keeping others waiting. Yet, every time they are late, they are causing anxiety for others. They do not know how to coordinate their time or tend to over-extend themselves, committing to more things than they can handle. They underestimate how much time things take to complete.
Such people do not care if they are late. They expect the world to understand that they are busy or that this is their pattern. Actually, this group of people generally have a pattern of their own when it comes to being late. They are often 30 minutes or one hour late so those who are on-time adjust and invite them one hour earlier to make up for their lateness.
In most things we do in life – we have obstacles and delays – things go wrong. One must factor these into the equation when planning any project. Things change and the end result will vary from that which was originally set up.
The solution for lateness
Are you a chronical latecomer? Examine your patterns to find out why. There are endless excuses for chronic lateness but few good reasons. If you want to correct this pattern, you will find the concise, clear and usable recommendations in this publication very helpful.
1 Have A Plan
Time is a precious commodity which need to be properly managed. The first step toward effective time-management is to have a plan for each day. In order words have a things-to-do list.
Quite often, people cram their day with a list of things to do, which are merely wishful thoughts rather than things they can actually do. If you want to be a person of integrity, you must be careful to differentiate what you can do from what you would like to do.
It is better to have a few things that you can actually do than a long list that you cannot finish. It is better to have five things on your daily “to do list” and enjoy the satisfaction of accomplishing all your tasks than to have 20 things and only manage to get two done. Be realistic – don’t be too ambitious but write down what you hope to achieve on daily basis. This is one way to make good use of your time.
2 Time Your Plan
Another helpful thing to do is to earmark time towards each activity on your things-to-do list. If you don’t allocate start and finish times to your daily agenda, you’ll probably misappropriate a lot of your precious time. Golda Mier, the former Israeli Prime Minister, who accomplished so much for peace in the Middle East, said “I must govern the clock, not be governed by it.”
Remember that many things can go wrong even when you time your plan. So do what building contractors do; add contingency time just in case things don’t go according to plan. Building contractors often add 25 to 50 percent to the time they think a task will take. For example if you will take 30 minutes to get to that job interview, allow 45 minutes. You may prefer that peace instead of the adrenalin rush.
Traffic situation can be unpredictable sometimes. All it takes is bad weather, an accident, a burst pipe or something else to bring a road to a halt. If you add contingency time, you can relax knowing that if there is unexpected traffic you can still make it on time.
Most roads have peaks and troughs. During rush hours, roads leading to city or town centres are often very busy. If you cannot avoid travelling during rush hour, allow more time than usual for your travel.
If there is a road construction, the traffic tends to build. You may want to avoid road construction routes and if you can’t, allow plenty of extra time.
3 Make quality use of your spare time
Can you think of any unproductive things you do on daily basis? If yes, you should consider weeding them out. If you chat and banter for too long on the telephone, watch too much television and hang around people who have plenty of time and don’t care how they use it, you are squandering your time. Dr. Martin Luther King, the American civil rights activist, said, “The time is always right to do what is right.”
If the phone rings just as you’re leaving your home or office, let your answering machine take the call. Unless you are expecting someone to call about the current item on your agenda – your destination. If the call is not about the destination you’re about to leave for, that message can probably wait until later on. It will still be waiting for you on your answering machine when you return. Make no mistake about it, if you pick up that phone, you will be late for your appointment!
Many day-to-day needs can be taken care of in your spare time and when you are not desperate. For example, always make sure you have enough petrol in the car. Go to the ATM or bank and get the spare cash you’ll need. Put your briefcase, purse or wallet where it is easily accessible. Gather what you’re going to wear, so you can simply grab everything and get dressed quickly. You’ll save lots of precious time if you do the things that are not urgent ahead of when they are needed.
If you have to get your children ready for school in the morning, do the same for them: Make sure all of their belongings are prepared the night before. Be sure they’ll wake up in good time to get dressed and eat their breakfast.
4 Get a good night’s sleep
A good night’s sleep is an advantage to you. Don’t get into the bad habit of giving up your sleep time. Some people who claim to get only 3-5 hours of sleep per night. Some stay awake all night watching television until 4.00am. instead of getting a good night sleep. Sleeping is restorative. For the majority of people, getting less than 7-8 hours of sleep will do them a disservice. Sleep deprivation can mess up your day. It can make you weak and unproductive.
5 Plan and Review
Plan your day before the day, likewise your route before you travel. A lot of people loose valuable time because they have no prior plan for their routes until whilst in transit. If you’re not really sure how to get to your destination, allow for extra time. If possible, drive to that destination prior to your appointment. This way, you’ll know exactly how to get there on your scheduled day. If that isn’t possible, call someone at your destination. Ask for specific directions and write them down. You can also use a map service on the Internet.
In addition to your route, you need to plan your daily activities, with the aid of a Day Planner you’ll find out the right pace for your body, mind, and soul?
Finally, review the day’s activities at the end of the day. It is always productive to evaluate how you’ve spent your day. This will help you to establish the things you gave too much or too little time during the day. Evaluation always give you insight into areas that needs correction.
Stop wasting your time
You can learn from the American statesman Benjamin Franklin who said, “Lost time is never found again,” and the Victorian English author Charles Dickens who warned that “Procrastination is the thief of time.”
Value your time. Spend it doing what you want to do. Delegate other jobs so that you can concentrate on higher priority tasks. There are a lot of people, places and things competing for your time. You should be in control of it and learn to say no to invites or request that will squander your time.
Discourage people from just dropping in and interrupting your work. If you have a secretary or assistant, they can take messages and arrange appointments for you. Voicemail and email can help you protect your work time. Be sure that you have the skills, time and resources to complete requests before accepting them and allowing them to interfere with current projects.
Common Time Wasters
Here are a few typical time wasters to guard against:
• Not planning or poor planning
• Lack of self-discipline
• Not prioritising tasks
• Pointless meetings
• Poor communication
• Equipment failure
• Socialising during work time
• Inability to say “No”
• Inability to make decisions
• Inability to delegate
• Lack of motivation or interest
Isn’t it strange that some people complain that they don’t have enough time to get things done, yet they find enough time to do nothing?
Alex Iwuoha is a dedicated and results-driven business and marketing professional with over two decades of experience gained within senior management roles across charity, private and public sector organisations.
He is an author and a publisher, with a vast experience in business to business networking and marketing solutions. For more information, please visit www.alexiwuoha.com