Learning to manage time

“There aren’t enough hours in the day!”
How many times have you heard — or uttered — words to that effect?
But time really isn’t the issue: it’s how we choose to spend our time that determines how effective we are at home and at work.
Leadership gurus tell us that a primary skill of an effective leader is the ability to manage time for maximum productivity.  Whether you are leading a large corporation, a troop of scouts, or a family of four, certain time management principles can help you do a better job.
Busy people might consider the following time management tips:
1. Assume responsibility. Best-selling author and time management expert Jamie Novak writes, “Realize that you alone are responsible for your time and how you use it … be a ruthless gatekeeper and do not allow your time to be stolen.”
2. Work on being proactive rather than reactive in your schedule. While emergencies and urgent situations do happen, get on top of things through careful planning, organization and learning to tactfully (but forcefully) say “no.” (I love the pillow inscribed “Stop me before I volunteer again!”)
3. Don’t be a slave to the phone or email. Check messages and return calls or respond to emails at set times during the day.
4. Reduce “mental clutter” by writing down thoughts, ideas, etc. Putting them on paper (or in a computer file) helps clear the mind and reduce anxiety.  But don’t have countless Post-It notes everywhere; that adds to physical clutter and a feeling of being overwhelmed. Carry a notebook (or electronic device) to capture ideas and such in one place.
5. Beware of activities that can suck away hours of your time. Online games, Facebook, television and the like are fine in moderation, but set a timer when you begin. You may think you’ve been playing solitaire for a few minutes, but the clock may tell a different story.
6. Don’t equate being busy with productivity. Identify specific, observable, measurable goals and hold yourself accountable to them. Just because someone spends eight hours in the office doesn’t mean she or he has necessarily accomplished much. I remember a former colleague who spent hours rearranging paper clips in his drawer (trying to impress the boss by faithfully putting in a few hours every Saturday).
Change takes time and commitment.  Don’t try to tackle all these tips at once: instead, select one or two and make a concerted effort to stick with it for 30 days. I guarantee you’ll be more successful (and have more fun in the process) than you ever thought possible.
Roxanne Cheney, a Professional Organizer and Daily Money Manager, helps Lowcountry residents reduce stress, create time, save money and regain control by organizing their space, finances, or transitions. For more information, visit www.RoxanneOrganizes.com, email Roxanne@RoxanneOrganizes.com, or call 843-252-1118.

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