Maximize your time

     Time is money they say and have said for many years.  Time is also limited.  Only sixty seconds to a minute, sixty minutes to an hour, and only so many hours to the day. Whether you use your time to make money or spend it on a hobby the same principal holds true.  In order to make the most of your time, you must manage it wisely. 

     Time management can benefit you in more ways than one.  By getting more done in less time, you have more time available to complete other essential tasks without rushing and with much less stress.  If you learn to manage your time so wisely that you run out of work to do, you can always use the extra time to relax.

Setting up your Time Management Foundation

     Time management is nothing more than determining what you need to do and how much time you have in which to do it.  As in anything else, the first step is to have a solid foundation.  Organization of your workspace and materials is the most important time management tip you can follow.  If your space is disorganized and your materials are not easily accessible, then nothing else will make up the time you will lose in finding what you need, when you need it.

     Review the type of assignments you need to complete.  Determine whether it is better to file them alphabetically or by deadline/due date. You may also choose to use a combination.  File alphabetically and maintain a separate time-line chart showing when each assignment is due.  In that way you can see when you need to work on a file and easily find it.  The same thing holds true if you work in a paperless office.  Set up clearly labeled folders on your desktop and utilize a calender alert system.  Once you have a paper time-line chart or similar alert/reminder system on your computer, you no longer have to worry about when something is due, you can simply look it up. 

     Think about your job.  What items or tools do you use the most?  Place them close to hand and always have them in the same place so as not to waste time looking for them. More time is wasted in looking for a tool than is spent in actually using it.

     In so far as possible, keep your desk clear.  Have only your current assignment in front of you. Thinking that having your next few assignments ready to go in front of you will save time is false economy.  Unless you have the ability to focus completely on what you are doing, I guarantee your eyes will wander over to the pile on your desk and your mind will wander along with them.

Setting your Priorities

      Once you have your foundation set, you can start thinking about managing your work.  The first step of course, is to prioritize.  Make a list of what you need to accomplish within a given time frame, a day, a week, a month, whichever fits your needs. 

       If you have multiple tasks, or have a major project that can be broken down into smaller sections, determine realistically how much time is required for each task or section.  If tasks need to be completed in order, prioritizing is obvious.  List things in order and avoid the temptation to jump around from task to task.

      If order of completion is optional, then you can list according to deadlines or group tasks by the amount of time they will take to complete.  Whichever method is used, be aware that there will inevitably be interruptions throughout the day, be sure to allow enough time to deal with them as well as complete your work within your chosen time frame.  If by some miracle, there are no interruptions,  then you can have stand by work available to fill the time if you wish.  It is necessary to to have a realistic time assessment of tasks is to ensure that you do not over schedule yourself. 

The Goal of Time Management

     The primary reason to have a time management plan is not only to become more efficient, but to become aware of exactly how much it is realistically possible to accomplish.  Once you know what is possible, you can avoid stressing out while trying to accomplish the impossible.  After all, work is a necessary part of life, but it is not all of life, so save some time and energy for living.