Time management and professionalism go hand in hand, whether you work as a tech-savvy businessperson or a budding entrepreneur. Time is undeniably a valuable resource, and its worth must be realized to enhance productivity. Everyone faces time pressure at some point, and it can be pretty stressful to manage it wisely.
Particularly in a professional setting, you might feel helpless at times when your ever-growing to-do list of things piles up as you struggle to meet targets. The intimidating issue of time pressure sets your mind on overdrive, as you frantically try to address all matters at once. In times like these, you need to manage time efficiently so that you can overcome the looming sense of failure over your head. All the information coming your way needs to be processed as quickly as possible so that daily challenges can be handled as promptly and effectively as possible.
Time pressure can force you to lose direction and adversely affect your concentration span. Even 24 hours in a day may seem insufficient. You are so focused on getting the task done that you forget to savor every moment. Though if the same task had to be performed without a limited time frame, you definitely know you could do much better. Under time constraints, your actions become a function of your default tendencies as you work to meet deadlines and schedules without having the time to internalize the true essence of your actions.
However, pinpointing your flaws and not doing anything about it is just complaining. Take back control of your time and fully exploit it. Here are a couple strategies that will help you manage time, become a stronger leader and inevitably lead to increased productivity.
Alter the Way You Perceive Time
Being an old hand at observing and handling professional situations, I have frequently noticed how people relate their productivity or ups and downs in life with time. It is an individual’s instinct to perceive time as working for us or against us. For example, if someone’s business is not seemingly going well, it’s common to hear “time is just not on my side” or “I don’t enjoy spending time doing so-and-so activity.” Does this mindset help? Or does it change the way you feel? Of course not.
Instead, such a mindset tends to exacerbate the situation rather than helping in any way possible. Honestly, time is not on anybody’s side. It’s as independent as ever could be. It’s our perceptions that limit our potential to strive forward.
Make a conscious effort to extract the positivity in each situation. Change your statements. So what if time isn’t on your side? Start your day with the mentality that you’ll work so hard that time has no other option but to side with you. Find new ways to make even the most monotonous activities interesting. Once you conquer these areas, it becomes easier the next time. It’s all about keeping a realistic approach towards time. You must realize the finiteness of time but also prepare yourself to manage and use it the most you can.
You will notice that just reframing your thoughts makes handling hectic situations easier. You are not as stressed and anxious as you were before. You might even enjoy something you never thought you would – that’s how strong a mind can be.
Organization and Implementation
Sometimes leadership isn’t commanding a group of people. Rather it’s about taking control of your life and, most importantly, your time. For that, you should know exactly what you want. Once you have decided to grab a hold of your time, the next best step is making necessary alterations in your routine to implement what you want.
However, before putting your thoughts into action, you need to plan and organize those thoughts. You cannot pick up the first task you get. This is another leadership quality; having a plan rather than diving in headfirst.
With experience, I was able to identify what most professionals find difficult when managing time. The Time Management Matrix helped resolve many of these issues. The matrix is a simple way to organize your tasks and priorities according to urgency and importance. So how do you apply it?
- First, list down all the tasks that are pending or are to be done in a specific time frame. It could be your daily tasks, weekly or monthly.
- On a decent-sized paper, draw or print a 4×4 grid or simply divide your sheet into four equal quadrants.
- Mark your top horizontal axis as urgent and your left vertical axis as important. Note that as you move away from the junction of the two axes, your degree of urgency and degree of importance decreases accordingly.
- You may now notice that the top left quadrant is labeled important and urgent; the top right quadrant is important and not urgent. Similarly, the bottom left quadrant is urgent and not important, and the bottom right quadrant is not important and not urgent.
- Fill in the boxes with your tasks that fit the description.
The activity will likely take you 15-20 minutes and will help you organize a week’s worth of work. You will find yourself more focused and efficient because you will already have all your priorities sorted out. This is very important for your overall productivity and prosperity.
Click here to download a template to help you create your time management matrix.
If you’re struggling to manage time, no worries, it happens, and I have your back! Click here to schedule time with me and together we’ll discuss how you can better manage your time.