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Are you managing your own time or is it managing you? We now live in a world which demands instant communication 24 hours a day and seven days a week. New technology and social media enable us to be in touch with each other whenever we want to and allow us to be updated on information and news instantaneously. You are expected to be available at any time of the day and respond immediately. The consequence is that you have many more demands on your time and it is much more challenging to manage your own time and have time to focus on the most important things for you. You may find that you feel out of control, distracted, stressed and that you are drawn into multi-tasking, not able to give anything or anyone your full attention.
So how can you manage your own time and be in control in the world today? Here are some ideas that you may want to try:
How are you spending your time? Have a look at a typical day and ascertain how you are spending your time and what you achieved. Are you looking at Twitter all day and getting distracted by what you are seeing? Are you looking at your texts and emails as soon as they arrive and trying to deal with them? Are you checking your mobile in meetings? Do you keep having a look at Facebook to keep track of your friends? Are you giving people and priorities your 100% attention or are you trying to do other things as well? What did you want to do in the day that never got done?
How urgent and important was the communication you received? Go through the communication you received in the day and understand how much of it required an immediate response and how important it was. You may have dealt with something straight away but it may not have been urgent or important and it distracted you from a much more important task. Did you need to look at Twitter when you did? Did you need to answer those emails and texts straightaway? Did you need to keep checking the news headlines on the internet or TV?
Take control. You will feel much better, be more productive and achieve much more if you are in the driving seat and in control. You can decide what you do and when, you don't need to let social media, technology, news and other communication take control of you. If you are not in control and feel you have no choice you will feel stressed, angry, frustrated and probably helpless. You will also find that you are not achieving your business and personal goals.
What are your business and personal objectives and priorities? Be clear about what you want to achieve in your business and your personal life. Prioritise these and plan what you need to do and when. From this you can plan what you are going to do each day.
Plan each day based on your business and personal objectives and priorities. To be in control you need to decide what you are going to do each day and align this plan with your business and personal objectives and priorities. Be realistic about what you can achieve in a day and allow time for the things that need doing each day.
Identify the best way to manage communication, social media and technology. Allocate time in your day to answer your emails, texts and phone calls and to access social media. You may find that you want to allow several slots in the day when you are easily distracted to do this e.g. first thing in the morning, after lunch and the last hour of the day. At other times in the day focus on your planned activity and don't get distracted. Consider having someone to look after all this for you and just pass the urgent and important matters to you to deal with.
Set your own boundaries. It is your business and your life so set your own boundaries and priorities. Communication, information, news and social media all have a place in your business and personal life but it is down to you to decide how to use it and how it best fits for you e.g. just because social media is available it doesn't mean you have to be accessing it all the time. What is important for your business and you? Consider the impact on your business as a whole as well. Do you need policies in place for your employees too?
Align your activities with your body clock. If you can align what you do each day with your body clock you will be more effective. If your best time for strategic thinking is in the morning then plan it in then. If your concentration levels are lower in the afternoon, maybe use that for meetings, phone calls and emails. Also consider the week and month as a whole as to which are the best days or weeks for different activities. You will find that by making simple adjustments to when you do things it will pay dividends to your time management and how you feel.
Turn communication and technology off. Do you need to be accessing the news every minute of the day? Do you need to have your mobile switched on by your bed at night? Do you need to check your work emails when you are at home? Do you need to check Facebook constantly? You may find it hard at first to turn communication and technology off because you are so used to it being there 24 hours a day seven days a week. However turning it off will give you more choice and control as to what you do with your time.
Give everything your full attention. How often do you give one task or person your full attention? You have all seen people checking their mobile or laptop during meetings, answering their phone when they are supposed to be talking to you, texting in restaurants when socialising and probably many other examples. Try giving everything you do your 100% attention and see what the results are? You will probably find that you are more satisfied, calmer, more productive and more likely to achieve your business and personal objectives.
Hopefully the above ideas will help you to take back control and manage your own time.
Author: Liz Makin
Published: June 2011
Makin It Happen has a range of personal development online courses to purchase, created by Liz Makin, including communication, resilience, time management, stress management and coaching. Liz Makin also provides personalised business coaching, business mentoring and stress management services to business owners, directors, managers and professionals.
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