Through Time Actions
The way you answered the questions suggests that you are generally good at time management and can see events into the future and the gaps between one event and the next.
If you are experiencing challenges with your time at the moment or just want to get even better at how you use your time, there are a few tips that can help you find a normal rhythm and ignite your natural flair for planning and being organised.
The way that you view time sometimes referred to as ‘through time’ means that you might only need some slight tweaks to your current approach. The greatest challenge you may experience because of the way you can look ahead at events quite naturally is to stay in the moment and fully enjoy the here and now, as you always have an eye on the next task or thing to do.
You might find it helpful to follow the suggested actions below as they will sharpen your time management and also encourage you to contemplate how you might get greater enjoyment and relaxation from how you are spending your time.
Tips you have more than likely followed quite naturally in the past and have got out of the habit
Get back to the priorities
Prioritising wisely always helps with time management. Being a person who can look head, you will be able to look into the next week or over the next month to highlight the priorities, but sometimes this can take the eye away from the here and now.
As you are aware, being able to prioritise really helps make sure that all requirements are covered in a timely way and can be fitted into a schedule in order for them to be completed. Get into the habit of looking a week ahead, as well as keeping an eye over the full month/s too, but when you need to, you might need to keep focus as short as the week in order that the other tasks in the distance don’t overwhelm what needs to be done now. You may need to be a little strict with yourself to complete the structured tasks in the here and now to help you keep on top of things.
Tips to help manage time
Allow yourself the focus you need
Unless your role is to respond to phones and emails immediately, there has to be some time within your day that you can focus purely on one task at a time. Turn off the phone and pop-ups to dedicate 60 – 90 minutes on the tasks that you need, this can make all the difference to the quality and finish of your work and also to your stress levels.
Turn off everything else
Turn off all distractions when in your dedicated work time. Close down any email pop-ups, notifications and turn off the phone. You know that having dedicated time means you can get quality work completed, give yourself the chance to have that.
Group tasks together
It will help to group similar tasks together and pop them into a time slot to complete at the same time. Once your head is in that space you may as well get as many similar tasks out of the way.
Pick your best time
When you are plotting your groups of tasks into the time slots you have set up in your week, think smart, when do you work best (morning, afternoon, evening)? Make sure that you give yourself the best chance to complete set tasks by plotting these in the time of the day where you can work at your best.
Set a reward for completing your structured tasks. By giving yourself a little treat for sticking to your plan, it might be to take a quick fresh air break, a trip to the coffee shop or a quick 10 minute meditation, it really helps to have a little reward waiting.
One thing at a time
Avoid the urge to multitask. Keep focused on your planned task/group of similar tasks, this will help you to get it finished and not roll onto something else.
Please do not disturb/setting boundaries
If your time management is affecting your work performance or your feeling under time pressure, it is sensible to explain to those around you that you are taking a new approach and request that they help you with not interrupting you whilst you are in your ‘structured work space’. Setting some boundaries around how you need to work, can be a good way to gently get colleagues to understand the need for changes, which they may also benefit from. You might want to consider popping in some earphones as an indication to ‘do not disturb’. Naturally there are times when there are genuine reasons for the need to be able to respond immediately, and this is where your new discipline needs to kick in, deal with the question, but stay on track and get back to your initial task in hand and get it finished.
Finding yourself procrastinating?
As you are generally comfortable with time management, it might be a surprise to you that you are finding yourself spending time procrastinating on less important activities, at the detriment to getting your daily jobs completed. You might need to spend a little time reviewing the tasks you are shying away from as there might be a lack of drive or motivation. If you are procrastinating instead of facing the tasks you don’t really want to do, there is more than likely a motivation issue. If this is the case, consider if you can get help with that task or could you share the task with a colleague or friend? Could you make the task more enjoyable or can you alter it in some way, break it down into smaller pieces or try to reframe its purpose and meaning to you? Find a way to make peace with this, structure some clear time and get on top of the task and make sure you set up a reward for completing it.
Delegate, clock off and relax
Sometimes it is good to delegate or ask for help. People who think of time in the way you do are often not too skilled at switching off, there is always the vision of the other events on the horizon. Part of you reviewing your improvement in time management has to be how you fit in activities that allow you to enjoy the here and now and find some relaxation, almost putting on temporary blinkers to the other ‘jobs to do’. When it is home time, down tools, switch off the work brain and find some time for yourself to be present.
Master yes and no
You know the old saying ‘if you need to get a job done, give it to a busy person’? Moving from one task to the next at speed can become a habit just like everything else. Not to say that you should stop doing your job, but more to say it is ok to review what is being asked and expected of you and know that it is ok to say no or alter the timescale for the completion of something, if your broader schedule would be compromised by taking everything that is asked of you.
Be honest with yourself
What is really possible within that day, hour, week, month? Because you have a good sense of time and what can be achieved, you might find it easy to take on too much. It's time to be realistic, give yourself a buffer of time to allow yourself some space if needed. Take a fresh air break, have five minutes to yourself or do something to be present and relaxed.
Create healthy rituals
Employ some good habits for both work and down time. You can often find it hard to switch off as you can see the next job ahead. Use your good time planning skills to make sure you are planning in downtime where you can really switch off.