A few days ago, I had the opportunity to conduct a corporate session on “Time Management”. I’ve been conducting this corporate session for a while now and usually the sessions have a small audience. For the first time, there were a record number of nominations (highest till date) and also record number of participants – in terms of attendance! So Time Management is increasingly becoming an area of significant interest for working IT professionals. Employees are recognizing the CRYING need to effectively manage their time, and find ways to improve their current Time Management techniques.
Usually when I start such sessions, I elicit audience responses to identify the top “Time Management” challenges. In this session, the key “Time Management” challenges as shared by the participants is listed below
(1) Challenges in playing many roles and shouldering different responsibilities in the corporate context – especially in scenarios where an employee is reporting directly / indirectly to more than one manager
(2) Challenges in finding that elusive “work life balance”
(3) Finding time to invest in your health – especially exercise
(4) How to prioritize work?
(5) How to stick to a plan, in spite / despite of several priorities?
(6) How to effectively multi-task?
Sharing in this blog the key points from my Session
Effective Time Management is not rocket sense. It’s about awareness, practice and adopting what works best in your context – to get the best productivity and output.
From my experience, Effective Time Management at the workplace is really about 3 things
1) Effective Planning and Prioritizing
2) Dealing with Interruptions
3) Working Style
Effective Planning and Prioritizing – What makes the difference?
1) Get your priorities clear and keep them in mind. Your priorities should be aligned with your goals and objectives, and in line with your own growth path (professional / personal). Write them down if that helps. Validate them with your team / manager on a regular basis – so that there is no gap in expectations.
2) Plan your day and stick to the plan (unless there’s a burning need for a deviation). To effectively plan your day, develop a Daily Schedule which includes Task, Time, Importance, Urgency.
3) Set realistic deadlines. Be cognizant of your working style, constraints and possible interruptions.
4) Look ahead to possible problems
Dealing with Interruptions – What makes the difference?
Interruptions are an integral part of work life – Learn to deal decisively with Interruptions. Some tips which help:
1) Act Assertively on the interruptions
2) Learn to limit Phone Time. Use a stop-watch if that helps!
3) Learn to deal with people; especially those who always have something URGENT for you to do
4) Do NOT over- schedule : there are only X number of business hours available
5) Do take scheduled breaks
6) Plan for some element of unscheduled breaks
7) Learn to say NO
Ways of Working – What makes the difference?
1) Do the difficult things first
2) Cut the Clutter
3) Focus on One Task at a Time – At least for the most important tasks
4) Concentrate on limited number of Tasks
5) Build in Thinking Time as a part of your work
6) Be Conscious of Time
Personal Nuggets based on personal experiences (While I am no expert on Time Management, I honestly believe you can always learn a lesson or two in Time Management if you speak to any working mother!)
Mantra 1: Before you start your work for the down, list down the 5 most important tasks that you need to finish for the day!
Mantra 2: Before you start any work, think about the most effective and optimal way to do it!
Mantra 3: Time-Box non-productive hours during a business day (This includes lunch breaks, coffee breaks, chat breaks, time on Google / Social Media, etc.)
Mantra 4: If you don’t know how to do something, ask. But Think before you ask! And don’t ask all the time!
Mantra 5: Eat Healthy, Sleep Well, Laugh and Do something you love everyday (even if it is for 10 minutes). These will make an ocean of a difference to your productivity, thought process and spirit
As I conclude, I end with a few words which highlight the importance of TIME
To know the value of
ONE YEAR, ask a student who failed a grade.
ONE MONTH, ask a mother who gave birth to a premature baby.
ONE WEEK, ask the editor of a weekly newspaper.
ONE DAY, ask a daily wage laborer with kids to feed.
ONE HOUR, ask the lovers who are waiting to meet.
ONE MINUTE, ask a person who missed the train.
ONE SECOND, ask a person who just avoided an accident.
ONE MILLISECOND, ask the person who won a silver medal in the Olympics.
What are some of the Time Management practices that you follow? Leave a comment to let me know