Sample from the Life Coaching Course

 

TIME MANAGEMENT

 

Ben Franklin said, “Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that’s the stuff life is made of.”

 

Do you wish that there were more hours in a day? Do you frequently find yourself trying to catch up? Do you feel that time controls you more than you control it? Many of us cry that there is too little time to accomplish all that we would like to do. However, rather than having too little time, the issue may be the way you manage time.

 

 

There are strategies that can' optimize your use of time so that you can spend more time working toward your goals. For example, ask yourself the following question regularly and thoughtfully: "What is the best use of my time right now with regard to my goals?" Often we function without considering how our time is spent. Questioning yourself about the best use of your time "right now" encourages you to stop and think. You can make a conscious decision about the value of what you are doing. If you plan your time so that you concentrate on those activities that relate to your goals, you raise the probability that you will reach your goals.

 


 

Take the following time management self-assessment. Those statements to which you answer no are time-manage­ment red flags—areas that, when improved, contribute to more effective use of time.

 

TIME MANAGEMENT SELF-ASSESSMENT

                                                                                       Yes                   No

1. My goals are written down in a specific,

measurable way.                                                            ____                ____

 

2. I know the results I want at work for the

coming week.                                                                ____                 ____

 

3. I judge my results by accomplishment, not

by level of activity.                                                       _____               ____

 

4. I have a system in place to minimize

unwanted mail.                                                              _____               _____

 

5. I have an effective system in place for

reviewing mail, memos, and paperwork.                      _____               _____

 

6. I attend meetings only if I know the

purpose, value, and my contribution to

them.                                                                             ______             ______

 

7. I make it a practice to be prepared when

attending meetings.                                                       ______            ______

 

8. I look for ways to decrease wasted and

unproductive time.                                                        ______            ______

 

9. I make a habit of doing the things that

need to be done in the right way to avoid

mistakes and rework.                                                   _______           ______

 

10. I establish time frames for getting my work

done.                                                                            _______           ______

 

11. I use waiting time to get things done.                    _______            ______

 

12. I can recognize a time waster and take

steps to eliminate it.                                                   _______             ______

 

13. I listen carefully to optimize communication.     _______             ______

 

 

USING A TIME LOG

 

How do you manage your time? Do you really know how your time is used? To determine your use of time, record your activities using a time log. Although keeping a running total of how you use the minutes in a day may not seem appealing initially, the information you'll get about yourself is worth the effort. The time log is a simple but valuable tool for learning more about how you use the hours in your day.

 

When you understand where your time is really going, you can decide how best to invest your hours. Your time log can be a daily calendar divided into fifteen-minute units, or you can use the time log provided below.

 

Use a time log to track your activities for five business days. Then evaluate the results to find patterns and trends in how you use your time. Some people find that their effectiveness is hampered by interruptions; others are hampered by mis­guided priorities, an overload of paperwork, unclear assign­ments, or inefficient and ineffective meetings. Other insights come, from the use of a time log. For instance, you may discover blocks of time to which you can apply efforts to accomplish your goals.

 

Diogenes Laertius said, “Time is the most valuable thing a man can spend.”

 

TIME LOG

 

Date_________                                               Activity

 

6:00 A.M.

6:30 A.M.

7:00 A.M.

7:30 A.M.

8:00 A.M.

8:30 A.M.

9:00 A.M.

9:30 A.M.

10:00 A.M.

10:30 A.M.

11:00 A.M.

11:30 A.M.

12:00 P.M.

12:30 P.M.

1:00 P.M.

1:30 P.M.

2:00 P.M.

2:30 P.M.

3:00 P.M.

3:30 P.M.

4:00 P.M.

4:30 P.M.

5:00 P.M.

5:30 P.M.

6:00 P.M.

6:30 P.M.

 

 

 

PROCRASTINATION

 

Do you find that there are times when you haven't worked toward one of your goals? Are there some activities that you deliberately avoid? One reason why time slips away is that we tend to procrastinate.

 

Procrastination—it's the "ability" to put off until tomorrow what could be accomplished today. Most of us are guilty of this at one time or another. Unfortunately, over time we become adept at welcoming diversions and at avoiding what needs to be done.

 

Take a few moments to answer the following questions.

 

I find that I procrastinate because:

 

                                                                             Yes                         No

 

The task or project is overwhelming                   ____                      ____

 

The task or project is difficult                             ____                      ____

 

The task or project is time-consuming               ____                       ____

 

The task or project is unpleasant                        ____                      ____

 

The task or project is effort-

Intensive                                                             ____                     _____  

 

The task or project is unrewarding                     ____                     _____

 

 

Although It is unlikely that the tasks you dislike will go away, you can change your behavior and meet the "procras­tination challenge." Your self-discipline and the following strategies can help:

 

Þ   Identify your motivation for getting started. For example, you could reward yourself for working for three hours. Or you could remind yourself that the completion of this project will raise your credibility in the eyes of your supervisor. Decide what motivates you and then follow through on it.

 

Þ   Ensure that this task or project is a priority. Use your priority-setting skills to identify the value of work on this project. If it is not a priority, eliminate it from your "to do" list.

 

Þ   Break the task or project into its component parts. This way it is more manageable. Begin by working on just one part of the task.

 

Þ   Accept that some projects require a lot of time. Although we often do not have long blocks of uninterrupted time, we can schedule some time (as we would a meeting) and make some progress on the longer task.

 

Þ   Use a ten-minute strategy. You can commit ten minutes of effort to almost any task. And ten minutes is enough to get you started. If after ten minutes you feel that you must stop, then do. But you may find that you want to keep going after the initial plunge.

 

Þ   Reward your effort. The minutes that you spend pro­crastinating can be applied to a reward if you just go ahead and take the plunge. The reward may be small, but it can have a high impact on performance. Remember one of the principles of human behavior: We continue to do those things that are rewarding; we stop doing those things that are not.

 

Þ   Set deadlines for yourself and meet them.

 

Þ   Avoid absolutes. Rarely is anything perfect or absolute. Imposing this pressure on yourself impedes progress.

 

INTERRUPTIONS

 

If you had a dollar for every time you allowed an interruption in your day, wouldn't you be well on your way to financial independence? Realize that many interruptions are a result of decisions that you make. And a decision to be interrupted may take time away from working on one of your goals. Each time you do not say no—that you pick up your telephone, open your door, or don't communicate that you are busy—you make a decision to be interrupted.

 

There are several strategies for controlling interruptions. First, refer to your time log and identify those interruptions that seem to occur on a regular basis. If an interruption will contribute to meeting your goal, schedule it to be dealt with at a particular time. More likely you can delegate it to a more appropriate source.

 

You can also group potential interruptions. For instance, instead of handling telephone calls through the day, have messages taken and then return calls at a designated time of day. To make your telephone calls more productive:

 

Þ   Avoid social conversation.

Þ   State the goal of the call.

Þ   Put a time limit on your calls

Þ   Provide a time and number for reaching you if the person you are calling is not available.

Þ   Identify phrases you can use to end your calls politely.

 

Since another cause of interruption is an open office door, learn to control who steps through it. People who come in to see you generally view the interruption as important— perhaps even urgent. However, the interruption may interfere with activities related to your high-priority goals. Before deciding to accept a visitor, ask for the reason for (goal of) the visit and establish a time limit. If your visitor needs more than ten minutes, suggest a scheduled meeting. Here are five other actions you can take to minimize the impact of drop-in visitors:

 

  1. Don't accept interruptions from people who can have their needs taken care of elsewhere.
  2. Do not invite a drop-in visitor to sit down.
  3. Do not accept interruptions during your quiet time—this is when you can make progress toward your goals.
  4. Establish a policy of encouraging employees and colleagues to schedule appointments when possible.
  5. Meet visitors outside of your office.

 

Consider the following ideas and mark the ones you would be willing to implement as of tomorrow:

 

  1. Begin work fifteen to twenty minutes earlier than you usually do. Getting started even a few minutes early gives you time to mentally prepare for the day,
  2. The night before, organize your work for the next day. Identify your priorities, get your desk ready, and think through the next day's accomplishments.
  3. Be respectful and courteous of others' time. Limit the interruptions and visits you make to others.
  4. Use a clock or a timer to keep you on track.
  5. Concentrate on the task at hand. Each time an inter­ruption takes place, you have to stop and then get started again. Efficiency and effectiveness increase when you schedule uninterrupted time for your work.
  6. Learn to say no, but be willing to explain your rationale. Doing so saves time in the long run by avoiding assumptions, misunderstandings, and hurt feelings.
  7. Plan for essential interruptions. Rarely are circum­stances ideal, so build flexibility into your schedule.
  8. During work hours, avoid the people who can usurp your time and stay away from places that steal your time.
  9. Be assertive. Doing so encourages you to make your own choices and ensures that you communicate them fairly and respectfully.

 

 

Your time is precious. Time spent in unproductive or low-priority activities is a resource taken away from activities that achieve your goals. Managing your time more effec­tively can help you reach your goals more quickly and efficiently. There is no magic to learning to manage time. It is a simple matter of identifying how your time is currently used, identifying the habits that need to be changed, and applying the strategies to change those habits. The combi­nation of dedication and perseverance, and the application of time-management strategies, will be your key to successful goal achievement.

 

Admiral Harold R. Stark said, “Dollars cannot buy yesterday.”

 

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