If you are able to manage time wisely then you surely possess some effective time management skills. If you are able to complete a set of tasks in the time you thought of doing them then you have certainly good time management skills. However, not everyone is so good at effective time management skills. People who do not have the required skills face problems very often. They are never able to meet deadlines. They waste time and are stressed out emotionally as well as practically. You certainly won’t be happy to know that you had important tasks yet you wasted the day.
Time Management Skills – Goal Setting
Many people with clear ambitions and aspirations in life fail to achieve any of them. Managing is supposed to be about achieving the long-term goals of the organization and yet the overwhelming pressure on most people is to handle day-to-day tasks efficiently. The main barrier to turning ambitions into achievements is the reactive nature of much of what we have to do.
Reactive work is driven by events and other people, whilst a proactive approach is one aimed at making things happen. Reactive work can be classified as the operational side of the operations and management split, whilst proactive represents the truly managerial component. There is a great deal of organizational pressure on managers to be responsive and short term in their thinking, often their superiors want an instant reaction and quick results. Don’t forget that people tend to do what they get rewarded for.
Being proactive is a far better time management skills approach than being reactive. This means anticipating events and being in a position to take appropriate action as soon as the right moment arrives. Proactive people look ahead and predict the likely outcome of events as they unfold.
Defining Your Goals
The next step is to select those ideas that you wish to address and turn them into a goal linked to a specific deadline. Without a deadline, a goal is often no more real than a new year’s resolution, and we all have experience of their level of success. A good idea is to create SMART goals. This acronym stands for Specific, Measurable, Agreed, Realistic and Time-bound.
The process of turning aspiration into a goal is crucially important to their achievement. It is the successful attainment of goals that will ultimately lead to your aspirations being achieved. It is the goals that represent concrete targets, which in turn will dictate your day-to-day activities. It is your goals that will help you, maybe even force you, to change your old time-wasting habits and develop effective time management skills.
It is only a clear sense of direction that will ensure you avoid drifting into short-term efficiency at the expense of long term effectiveness – and that is the real key to being a successful time manager.
Time Management Tips – Objectives
The definition of a clear goal that obeys the SMART criteria is only the first step towards achieving your vision. To clarify what needs to be done to achieve the goal, you will need to analyze it, in order to define a series of objectives.
The function of objectives is to:
- 1. Identify clearly what needs to be done,
- 2. Describe how it is to be achieved, and
- 3. Specify the criteria for success
For example, if the goal is to reduce customer complaints by 30%, by the end of the financial year, then a series of objectives would be derived from this, which together would make the goal achievable. One of the objectives could be “to improve the efficiency of customer inquiry processing by 50% by the end of the financial year”.
This objective is clear and limited, it identifies exactly what needs to be done and in what timeframe. It also sets a clear achievement target, which can be measured and assessed. Your objectives should focus on what it is you actually plan to do and should not allow you to hide behind vague abstractions. The definition of clear objectives is a key time management skill.
For more detailed and an extensive guide on Time Management please check out this article “How to get the most out of your day with effective time management”
Once you have a list of objectives that together make your goal achievable, the next step is to rank your objectives in order of importance. You should then think about the practicalities of each objective. For example, do any rely on factors outside of your control? If so, then you might not be able to start on this straight away.
Once you have decided how many can be put into effect immediately, you can make your commitment to the public. This has two advantages, firstly it lets other people know what you intend to do so that they can accommodate it. Secondly, it demonstrates your determination to see things through; as no one likes to be seen to fail.
In the earlier example, we defined the objective: “to improve the efficiency of customer inquiry processing by 50% by the end of the financial year”.
One approach is to divide a sheet into two columns and then to identify the means and actions, which will make this achievable.
Using a planning sheet of this type will help to reduce each objective to a series of more manageable tasks. You should always assess the effectiveness of your planning by reviewing the results achieved against the desired objectives.
If your plan didn’t achieve the desired result, was it due to: a fault in the plans, perhaps they were unrealistic. Did you fail to follow them effectively or was the problem beyond your control, perhaps you needed cooperation from others, which was not forthcoming. Try to find out the reason and try to do it again with some corrections.