I recently attended a workshop titled “time management for academics”. I was rather reluctant at first since I was used to people preaching the importance of time management but never actually making it practically useful. However, this workshop was a game changer. Not only did it give practical tips and tricks for efficient management of time but also provided a holistic overview of time making you think about the bigger picture. The workshop was led by Andrew Scott- a coach and facilitator for effective learning. Here are some key points I picked up that has really helped me to change the way I manage time:
Time is what we want most, but what we use worstWilliam Penn
🥅 Keep your main life purpose and goals at the forefront when managing time. Time is limited and as grim as it sounds, we all have to die one day. We need to make sure that when that day comes, we are happy that we have reached our life goals and fulfilled our life purpose. Prioritise things that contribute to these goals. “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing”
🧘🏽♀️Always look after yourself: physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Fit time into your schedule specifically for this. It should be a crucial part of your daily, weekly, monthly and yearly plan. This can include exercising (which I have started doing finally), socialising with your friends and family, praying or just taking a little nap. Whatever makes you feel better, do that! If you don’t give yourself time, you will have less time for other things in the long term.
👩🏽🏫Check what “roles” you have in your life. You might be a daughter/son, student, spouse, friend, self developer etc. Ensure that you prioritise tasks which enable you to succeed in these roles and gives importance to them all. If you see yourself halting in any role, then give it some extra time.
🗄Categorise your tasks into urgent against important. Do the tasks that are urgent and important first. Urgent but not important tasks can be done quickly or delegated. Not urgent but important tasks can be broken down into smaller tasks allowing you to slowly make progress before they turn urgent. Tasks that are not urgent and not important (like spending hours on social media) should be limited and possibly used as rewards.
📧Don’t check emails first thing in the morning because this slowly turns into hours of just replying to emails which is just an invitation for more emails. Trust me I have seen this happen to myself more times than I can admit. By the end you’ve lost the will to actually do work that is important. Allocate a time during the day (e.g. 30 mins before lunch) for checking emails.
💡Start the day with tasks that are important because you are most awake in the morning (if you’re not then you should check your sleep pattern).
🤝Turn your tasks into commitments with other people, for example, telling a friend that if I compete this task then we will go for a meal together. You are more likely to keep commitments you give to other people than yourself.