MANAGING YOUR TIME
“Do not dwell on the past, do not dream of the future,
concentrate the mind on the present moment.”
One of the biggest causes of stress, both at home and at work, is what you do with your time. Many people have had their lives completely turned around by learning time management skills. Understanding the nature of time and using it to your advantage can greatly enhance your quality of life.
THREE GOLDEN RULES OF TIME MANAGEMENT
Rule 1: Establish priorities
In order to fulfill the true purposes of your life, you have to decide on the activities you need to carry out. For example: your job may be to make sure that products get shipped out to customers. Every other activity you carry out in a day – filling out a survey for your boss, reading a trade journal, tidying up your desk, attending a meeting about the new car park – is secondary. Your first priority, then, has to be whatever action it takes to get your product to the customer.
At home, your priorities may be to help your children with their education, see that your family eats well, and enjoy a loving, constructive relationship with your partner. Everything else is secondary – looking after your neighbor’s pets, visiting friends and co-workers and renovating the basement are all less important than the purposes you’ve pinpointed for your home life.
One of the biggest sources of stress in life can be people asking you to carry out activities that are urgent but not important – not to you, anyway. Take a look at the grid below. How much of your day is spent carrying out tasks in Category #2 or #4?
Let’s take a hypothetical example: You’re busy finishing a proposal aimed at acquiring a new account, which will boost your sales by 15%. This is what you’re paid to do – it’s an activity (key area) for achieving your job purpose.
Suddenly your boss comes in and requests that you attend a meeting on an idea she has for streamlining the internal reporting system. It has to be submitted to the senior manager by tomorrow because he’s going on holiday. This is something which is important to your boss, not you.
It’s what she’s paid to do – it’s an activity (key area) for achieving her job purpose. But because she’s been procrastinating, she now has an urgent task for you to carry out, which could prevent you from completing your important task – the proposal for the new account.
The task you were carrying out was Category 1 (important and urgent). The task your boss wants you to carry out is Category 2 (not important but urgent). Your focus should always be on Category 1 and Category 3 tasks. Category 2 tasks should be minimized through assertive behavior on your part.
Review the urgent tasks that are demanded of you in a day. How many of them fit into Categories 2 and 4? How can you resolve this?
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Rule 2: Identify time wasters
Demands are continually made on you at work and at home that can be considered key areas, activities which are necessary to achieve your goals and purposes. Because of this, you are only ever going to have a limited amount of time that you can control to give you that important “time management” edge. It’s estimated that, on average, most people have less than 20% of controllable time in their jobs. The nature of most jobs dictates a certain work pattern.
Pinpoint the time wasters in your life, both at home and at work, which are causing you stress. Your goal is to eliminate or drastically reduce them. They might be unnecessary phone calls, drop-in interruptions, or unreasonable demands from colleagues or neighbors. The best way to identify these time wasters is to complete a time log.
Rule 3: Practice self-discipline
Time management is all about developing better habits. Although not as difficult, achieving better time management skills is similar to losing weight or quitting smoking. Poor time management habits, like anything else, can only be changed through a concerted, sustained and focused effort.
You must be committed to change. If you go to work in the morning and spend the first hour checking your Facebook and surfing the internet , you’re probably wasting time – unless, of course, this is part of your job. In order to get rid of this time-wasting behavior, you need to replace it with new habits, like going through e-mails, phoning key customers, or making that first hour the time when you set your priorities for the day.
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