Our future depends on the way we spend our present, therefore each man should consider the way he uses his time now. By taking a look at how you are using you time now, you can predict what your future will look like. Nobody should therefore be surprised by his future. Do you know that even going to heaven or to hell, is decided by how we use our time now? Some use their time to repent, seek God and serve him. They will go to heaven. Others use their time to sin, and do things that displease God. They will go to hell.
Those who misuse their time always complain that time is short. But time is long enough for whosoever knows how to use it. Whosoever works and thinks expands his time. God has given to each and every one of us a well-defined quantity of time. It is left to you to use it rightly. Whosoever squanders time will have to regret it later, when he must have understood its value. Destiny fulfillment, vision attainment is determined by how you use your time. All the successful people you hear of in the world and those you see around you have always known how to make good use of their time. God who has given us time wants to help us make good use of it.
Time should be used rightly and effectively. Using time rightly is using it on things directly connected to your vision and destiny. Using time effectively is drawing maximum profit from the hours, minutes, and seconds you have at your disposal, yearly, monthly, weekly and daily.
Bible authors were very conscious of the importance of time and of the need for every man to make good use of it. The Lord said “my time has not yet come.” The bible admonishes us to redeem the time (Eph 5:15-16), to make the most of every opportunity (Col 4:5).
Time is more than money, it is life. The way you use your time, is the way you use your life. Here are the seven most efficient time management techniques: Setting goals, Avoiding procrastination, Prioritizing, scheduling, Dealing with time wasters, Following your productivity circle, and Making good use of modern technology.
1- Goal Setting
In some previous lesson, we lengthily discussed goal setting you may cheek on the archives of this blog for reference. I want to introduce you here to the three theories of goal setting.
The Locke-Latham theory, Dr. Edwin Locke published his theory on goal setting in 1968 in an article called “Toward a Theory of Task Motivation and Incentives.” His theory was that employees were motivated by having a goal to work towards and that reaching that goal improved work performance overall. He showed that people work better when their goals are specific and challenging rather than vague and easy. In 1990, Locke and Dr. Gary Latham published “A Theory of Goal Setting and Task Performance” in which they identified five principles that were important in setting goals that will motivate others. These principles are: • Clarity • Challenge• Commitment• Feedback • Task complexity
S.M.A.R.T. Goals, in goal setting, this is one method that has stood the test of time. Although there have been variations to what the acronym stands for over time, the main definition of a SMART goal is one that is: • Specific• Measurable• Attainable• Realistic• Timely.
Backward Goal-Setting, another method of goal setting is to start with the end result in mind and then plan backwards from that point to determine what you need to be doing each step along the way in order to achieve that goal. This is counter-intuitive to most goal-setting approaches. We usually start from where we are and then determine what we need to do first, second, third, etc. in order to get to the goal at some point in the future. But if you start at the end and then plan backwards, you can determine whether or not your plan is realistic in the time frame you are giving yourself. This process also helps you determine what the milestones are and any dependencies that have to be completed before other steps can be worked on. The process works by following the steps below: Determine your specific ultimate goal. You can use the SMART criteria to do that. Next decide on the step just before your ultimate goal and on the time to reach that step. Then work backward again and identify what your second-to-last milestone has to be and when it has to be completed in order for you to be successful in reaching your ultimate goal. Continue working backwards until you have identified the very first milestone that needs to be achieved and by when you need to achieve it. When you work backwards like this, it is much easier to identify steps that you might have missed when you plan from the present forward because it forces you to look at your planning from the opposite direction. You can also get an idea of whether or not the time goal you have set is realistic and how much you will need to increase your work activity to make the time frame realistic. The next time management technique is,
Prioritization is the ability to make the best, most effective use of your time, ability, and resources. When you feel like work is never-ending and time is at a premium, prioritization is what will help you spend your time wisely and move forward on the goals that are the most important. At its simplest level, prioritizing is straightforward. You simply determine the criteria that are most important to you and most related to your goals and then you use those criteria to order the tasks that you have in front of you in terms of priority. In prioritizing we can use many tools. Among the tools listed below Choose the one that best fits you.
A) Priority- scale. It is a tool that is aimed at helping you prioritize among many tasks which one you will work on first. It will help you to quickly decide the order of priorities for goals to set, items to work on, people to invite to a meeting, etc. The scale will help you, identify in an instant, an order of priorities. According to Gerry Robert , this tool was developed by Colorado management consultant Myron Rush and has been used extensively to help thousands of managers to set priorities. It is, said that without question, it is one of the most valuable priority-setting tools available today. It is an effective instrument to assist in identifying which tasks are urgent and which ones are important. Let’s briefly describe the steps. Step 1 you draw a sheet of paper, in the upper left-hand corner, under “Tasks to be prioritized”, record and number the tasks you wish to prioritize. Step 2.Compare the tasks and circle the ones that are important. Next, compare the important tasks and circle the more important. 3. Compare all the more important task and now make a list of them starting by the most important of your more important task.
B) The Urgent/Important Matrix
To understand your priorities more clearly, tasks can be divided into categories that help you estimate their primacy. This is called the Urgent/Important Matrix. Here you also set a ‘To-Do List’; this is a list of tasks you want to prioritize then labeled them with one of these categories:
Urgent and Important
When an important task is urgent, it has to be tackled quickly and efficiently. Such tasks are crises. Crises can bring out the best in some, whereas some individuals find it overwhelming. An effective way of preventing crises is to prioritize your Important but Not Urgent tasks to be completed second in line only to Urgent and Important tasks. That way you can complete the tasks before they turn into crises.
Important but Not Urgent
Along with occasional crises, these should be the focus of your schedule. Neglecting these can lead to time management crises such as having to deal with multiple urgent and important tasks at one time. Therefore, divide these tasks into manageable portions and action in order to keep them from becoming urgent, and thus entering the crisis zone.
Neither Urgent nor Important
These are the major time-wasters, since they threaten to divert your attention from the important and urgent tasks. The four Ds for dealing with unimportant non-urgent tasks: Do them, Delegate them, Dump them, Defer them. The choice depends on the nature of the task; however. Make the choice swiftly so you do not spend more time than necessary on these distractions.
The difference between this tool and the two preceding ones is that with a to- do-list you are forced to carry it along as you go about the day whereas with a priority –scale and a matrix you can leave them at home after establishing and consulting them. The main work of this list is to aid your memory. However, it has to be systematically thought out by deciding the priority of your tasks before creating your list. A common mistake people make is to rely on their memory. This wastes time! Simple take half an hour per week to devise your schedule, and keep it handy at all times. Creating effective to-do list saves time as you do not move randomly or try to remember what to do next. An effective to-do list is not a wish list. It is realistic, and it keeps your motivation level high enough so that you want to move from one task to another. When you have a list in front of you, it will permit you to easily analyze the different tasks, compare them, and even delegate them. Each time you have accomplished a task that is on your ‘to do list’, tick it and it will give you a feeling of satisfaction. Always commit this list to God every morning in prayer.
3- Avoiding Procrastination
Avoiding procrastination is also a serious way to manage your time, because procrastination is a dangerous time-waster. It causes many more headaches than it effect cures. It is easy to put off the unpleasant, difficult and time-consuming tasks. It is relatively easy to come up with many excuses for putting things off. We don’t have the time right now. We’ll get around to it later. We want to sleep on it first. There is plenty of time to do that this weekend. Because of the great time killing power of procrastination, we will discuss it at length later in this book. Let us consider the next technique which is,
The technique of Scheduling, is simply allocating the amount of time you want to use for any particular task or activity. You live in a world where there is always something competing for your attention and your time. For you to be able to fit in the things that are important to your job and to you, a schedule is a vital tool. It allows you to block out segments of time and assign them to a specific activity. Scheduling is actually a form of organization. The first step in scheduling is to start with a ‘master schedule.’ This is a listing of the days of the week and the hours available in that week, as well as the requirements that are fixed in your schedule. You can schedule in short, medium, and long-term time frames. Scheduling for a day for instance will mean that you list the activities you want to do within the day, and out of the 24 hours of the day assign a portion of time to each activity. With the list of activities at your disposal, just assign a particular time to a particular task by order of importance. The nature and importance of a task will determine the quantity of time you allocate to it. You can use letters ABC to indicate the importance of each task.
5- Discover And Control Time Wasters
This technique believes that, prevention at times is better than cure. You have 86,400 seconds at your disposal every day. You decide how you will use those seconds. What really hinders time’s effectiveness are the Minute-wasters. The small things that creep into your day which eat up seconds, which turn into minutes, which turn into hours, which turn into days, ad infinitum. How do people waste time? If we can identify the Minute-Takers then we can develop an effective plan for preventing it, because the best way to save time is to avoid things that waste it, some simple habits and gesture can help you save time:
a- The Time Audit. The time-audit is a great method to work out how you really spend your time. By using a watch and a table to monitor your day’s activities, you will collect vital information about where your valuable time resources are spent. Be honest and accurate even when you realize that you spend more of your time unprofitably. Because, you will use the information from your time-audit to help you make decisions about how you can improve and optimize your working life. While you are doing time-audit, mark interruptions you face and how they affect your work. Note any deadlines you have and keep a check on them to see if you are able to meet them or not.
Disorder makes us waste time. For instance, the moment you are fully at work, and you are in need of a document, if you are unable to lay hands on it because you have not lined it up or it is missing, you waste time. The time you take to line up books, and put books in order is never wasted time, you get it back in due time.
c- Memory failure
You can avoid this by immediately writing down all necessary details that can be useful to you. Write them down on a sheet of paper or a book where you are sure of getting easily.
d- Disturbance& Interruptions
If you used time-audit then you probably have a good idea of how many times in a day you face interruptions. Most of us are so accustomed to being interrupted during the day that unless we are intentionally aware of it, we won’t even notice when it is happening. We can be interrupted either by a colleague who needs information or someone who wants to spend a good time. Some interruptions are inevitable since not everyone whom you work with from bosses to subordinates will have the same exact priorities that you have every day. Take responsibility for interruptions because none of us is entirely free of responsibility for some of the interruptions in our workday. If you can identify those times that you cause your own interruptions, you can reclaim that time by simply disciplining yourself and others around you to eliminate the causes of those interruptions. Deal with interruptions, according to a famous military quote; “No plan survives contact with the enemy”. The best of plans fall apart when an emergency occurs or there is an uncontrollable interruption. The objective, when dealing with such distractions, is to minimize their effects and limit the damage.
These are ways to fight interruption:
1-One way to reduce interruptions is to make less eye contact with a person who has come to interrupt you. Experts are now realizing the importance of eye contact in office design. It plays a role in employee’s productivity. Offices are now being designed to ensure less eye contact.
2-Become aware that when you leave your work area, you are a prime target to get sidetracked so mostly stay at your work area.
3-If you want to eliminate interruptions, schedule closed-door ‘no interruption’ periods. Let others know you can’t be bothered for any reason other than the building is on fire.
4-Stand up as soon as an interrupter enters the room and remain standing while they speak. They will soon get the message, ‘Be quick, I’m busy.’
5-Fortunately we have hours that decency stops people from disturbing, this is early in the morning and late in the evening. You can use those moments to do work that don’t need interruption.
e) Dead times
For a student or a writer for example, there are times that you don’t know what to do because you don’t have the necessary document at your disposal or because you are hesitating between two tasks or you are not ready inwardly. The way to prevent dead time is to plan in advance on a time table at least at the eve of everyday and to prepare in advance what it takes to execute your work. When you don’t prepare in advance you will have to prepare before starting any work. This wastes time. You can save that time by preparing in advance.
6- Follow Your Productivity Circle
Authors who propose this technique argue that we are more productive at a certain period of the day than others. And those productive periods of the day are what they call ‘productivity circle’. Productivity circle is mostly encouraged by what is called Pareto principle. The Pareto Principle also called the 80:20 rule affirms that of all the results that we produce in the day, 80 percent of those results are generated with 20 percent of our efforts. The remaining 80 percent of our efforts only generate 20 percent of our results. Productivity circle refers to the moment we can mostly use our 20 percent to produce our 80 percent result. Some people have more energy rising and feel stronger at some activities at night, others in the morning, still others within the day. Program your activities at the time you can produce most and better. That is all what is meant by using your productivity circle.
7- Beware Of Technology
Is technology a time saver or a time waster in your opinion? Technology can be an excellent way to save time and increase your effectiveness throughout the day. However, it can also be an information-overloading trap! Have you ever lost track of time when surfing the internet? It’s quite easy to lose hours a day on technology and gadgets! “Beware of the internet! It can be extremely useful, but also extremely wasteful! We can easily be carried away looking for information on the internet. Many of us sign up to a variety of newsletters and blogs. However, the result is usually information overload as well as a mailbox full of spam. Ask yourself before you sign up to ANY newsletter or feed if you really need the information offered. Do you have the time to read it? Do you want to spend your time clearing out your mailbox? Sean McPheat, in her book, successful time management, comments that Microsoft and the University of Illinois recently undertook a study that confirmed that Email use reduces productivity. According to her, the subjects of the study took an average of 15 minutes to return to work after receiving an email, as rather than immediately returning to their task, they replied to other emails or used the internet. She says another study across the US, UK, and Germany by Clearswift Limited also showed that 40% of employees spend more than one hour on personal email during work hours, every day
Technology and gadgets are time-savers only if used with a purpose. To end it all on this secret, we say, men may be different in their natural and spiritual gifts, but what finally makes the difference between them at the human level is the way they use the time that God has given them. Make good use of your time. You have just been taught how to go about it.
God BLESS YOU