While many people aren’t aware of or simply don’t think about it but time is the most valuable resource which once used is gone forever. In the world of constant race, competition, innovation and unpredictability, the importance of time is amplified many times over. Entrepreneurs who are in constant race against time and operate in ‘finite environment’ with endless tasks to be completed within stringent deadlines are affected the most and are under constant pressure and stress. As build-up of stress can lead to health problems and startup’s demise, it’s in every founder’s interest to find the way to eliminate or at least mitigate the stress levels.
If you can relate to the foregoing, here are four steps on how to improve your time management and as a result not only become more successful in your chosen vocation but equally important, live a healthier, wealthier and more fulfilling life.
1. Time Allocation
An old adage “you can’t manage what you can’t measure” stands true today more than ever. Your time – like mine and everyone else’s in this universe – is limited, so be mindful of it and cherish is. Not knowing where your time goes but wanting to have more of it is as futile as hoping to win a lottery without ever playing it. So ‘know thy time’. Start by monitoring your time on a daily basis and take notes, don’t omit even the smallest thing you do in a day, for over time ‘small things’ could add up considerably and turn to be a huge time wasters which need to be eliminated.
The objective of time allocation exercise is to identify your present time allocation (e.g. how you spend your hours, days and what activities you engage in, when, how long, why etc.) and make the necessary adjustments or take corrective measures, conducive to where you want to be in terms of accomplishments. It’s important to know your values and goals, both short and long-term.
While it may vary from one person to the next, there are four major spheres in everyone’s life which we spend time on – those spheres are 1. Family, 2. Business & Career, 3. Health, Fitness and Spirituality and 4. Money and Investment. Here’s a sample of what this may look like before and after time allocation exercise, which of course will vary from one person to the next, depending on individual values and priorities.
Before time allocation
After time allocation
Once you eliminate the time wasters and optimize your use of time considerably, you are ready to set priorities and organize your life around them. Assuming you have a long list of constructive tasks you do on a weekly and monthly basis, the easiest way to prioritize them is by the way of elimination in order of most to least urgent and important.
For example, your priorities for the month of January could revolve around planning your year ahead which will set the tonne for most of your tasks. In addition, you will have your family and business obligations which rank high on your priority list and can’t be put off for later. By the same token, you might be planning to do your spring shopping for the family but since the spring is few months away that’s low in priority hence, can be ‘eliminated’ from January’s list and put off for later months.
3. Planning Ahead
Being each day with end in mind – keep your eyes on the prize or the big picture and plan each day and week accordingly. This will not only help you plan your life for success but also put things into perspective, which will ultimately alleviate if not entirely eliminate worry and stress related to your day-to-day activities you may be experiencing on occasions.
To do this, you should set aside an hour each weekend, perhaps late Sunday night to plan your week ahead and set goals accordingly. This way you’ll be great deal more efficient and effective which will help you maintain your time allocation schedule and stay away from the time wasters. I have learned from personal experience that everything I jot down as a part of my thinking and planning process, gets done in time.
4. Monitor, Evaluate and Tweak
Finally, to ensure you are on track with your plan and are executing without a hitch, you’ve got to develop a habit of continuous monitoring and follow ups. Now, this doesn’t mean you obsess over or do it on hourly basis but rather once daily, either late at night before you go to sleep or early morning before you start your day. This way you’ll be able to tweak and shuffle what’s needed in order to complete it on time and schedule. Bottom line, stay on schedule no matter what.
Wrapping It All Up
No matter where you come from or what’s your life’s calling, the time you’ve been given is limited so don’t waste it. Become selfish with your time and don’t give it freely, in fact avoid everyone and everything useless that could take up your priceless asset and channel it only to those people and things that truly matter to you and are conducive to you life’s purpose and mission you’ve set out to accomplish. Lead a purpose driven life.