As the lines between work and play become increasingly blurred, more of an importance has been laid on managing our time than ever before. We are living in an age of distraction, where daily external stimuli become overbearing at times.
With smartphones, long working hours, family obligations, regular admin tasks, social events, and of course a bit of downtime, we have all got a lot on our plate. The only way around this is by being in control of your time and how you spend it.
Wasting Precious Time
People have been wasting time since the beginning of time. No matter how precious our time feels, we still do a good job of wasting it away. We all find ourselves getting sucked into social media, toiling over emotionally draining activities, worrying about things that may never happen, replaying history in our minds, or worrying about what others are doing.
These are some of the most common ways to waste time and these not only happen at home or in private, but are also regularly seen in the workplace. Paychex, the American human resources and payroll company, carried out an in-depth survey in 2016 to solve the mystery of where exactly our time disappears; the findings were as follows:
- The top reasons behind wasted time in the workplace were lack of work, distraction, dissatisfaction, and working long hours.
- Companies have introduced time-wasting reducers such as website blockers, flexi-time, increased presence of managers and a limited internet policy.
- In terms of generational work habits, 68% of Baby Boomers waste less than 1 hour at work while only 46% of Generation X do and 40% of Millennials do.
- Industries that waste the most time surfing the net are broadcasting and journalism, technology, science, and publishing.
Aside from the workplace, social media is another large culprit of time wasting and tends to eat up more time than any of us would like to admit. Most of us even struggle to remember how exactly we spent those wasted hours before social media. According to Statista, the average daily use of social media worldwide rose from 90 minutes per day in 2012 to 135 minutes per day in 2017.
This means that the average person spent over two hours a day scrolling endlessly through the likes of Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. While a portion of the content on such platforms is of course useful and interesting, we tend to deem a large majority of it as wasting time. Imagine all we could achieve in two hours every day.
Time Management Saves the Day
Time management does exactly what it says on the tin: it is the process of assigning time to specific activities in accordance to their importance or priority. The goal of this is to minimise time wasted and to increase overall efficiency and productivity.
While this may seem at first slightly business-orientated, it translates into our social and personal lives quite fluidly. By strategically planning how we want to spend our time, we become more aware of where our time is currently being spent and potential changes to our current time management processes quickly become obvious. Just a small bit of discipline may result in immediate benefits.
The importance of time management in our lives is undeniable. One of the most common complaints worldwide is how we don’t have enough time, how it runs away from us, and how the day is too short or there’s not enough hours in it. By taking back control of your time expenditure, you will find yourself more focused, less stressed and more productive.
Your overall quality of life is guaranteed to improve – with less time spent worrying about how time is escaping you, mentally, you will free up lots of space and have more energy. The feeling of being in control brings about a certain calmness and relaxation with it. Additionally, once you have started to make progress with your personal time management strategy, the sense of achievement will boost you into perfecting it.
Time Management Tips
The former US president John F. Kennedy once said, “We must use time as a tool, not as a couch”. Time can in fact be on your side, as long as you control it. Here’s how to manage your time and get the most out of it.
- Get a watch: First thing’s first, get yourself a watch. Without a decent watch, the whole concept of time management may be lost on you. It goes without saying, but ensure you get one that suits your style. You want to enjoy looking at it every day. From vintage to retro, casual to smart, find one on an online marketplace with plenty of selection including everything from Seikos to Casios.
- Get your priorities straight: Next up, make a list of everything you want to spend time on in the next week and identify your priorities. For example: if you missed out on social time with your friends last week, perhaps that should take precedent.
- Keep a journal: It’s a known fact that journals are good for the mind. When it comes to time management, a journal is absolutely key. It is a great means of tracking your progress and will be a great source of reference for future planning.
- Establish a routine: The entire time management process becomes easier with time and this is largely due to the fact that after a few weeks you are bound to establish a routine and the whole system will become second nature to you.
- Allow for free time: Any successful time management plan must include some relaxation time and many breaks. Although it may initially seem counterintuitive to schedule in breaks, it is in fact necessary. This way, the potential guilt you may feel when having a break will be eradicated as you have scheduled for it. Breaks are not only good for the mind but the body too.
- No multitasking: Contrary to popular belief, multitasking has a surprisingly negative effect on productivity. People are more likely to lose focus and attention, forget things, underperform and last but not least, become more stressed.
- First on the list: It’s usually a good idea to put the most difficult thing first on the list. Not only will this fill your entire day with a sense of achievement, but it is also a good way to avoid any unnecessary stress, worry or anxiety.
- Take a step back: After various updates and tweaks, there should come a point when your time management system should run smoothly and should require less attention. When this point in time comes, enjoy it, and give your schedule a reassessment every few months.
- Accept change: You’ll find that your proposed schedule will change frequently depending on your personal circumstances. Perfect examples of this are if you have children, if you get engaged, if you get a promotion or if you take some time to focus on your health. Accept the changes in your life and fit them into your time management program accordingly.
Be the master of your own time and give time management a go. You’ll find you’ll eliminate distraction in no time and achieve your maximum productivity. Some of the many benefits to an effective time management strategy are the following: an added sense of control, improved health and mood, less stress and better more meaningful social interactions.