Time Management

By James Harvey Stout (deceased). This material is now in the public domain. The complete collection of Mr. Stout's writing is now at http://stout.mybravenet.com/public_html/h/ >



Jump to the following topics:

  1. What is time management?
  2. The techniques of time management.

What is time management? It is a collection of techniques by which we can use our time more efficiently.

The techniques of time management.  

  1. Archetypal field-work:
    • Self-talk. For example: "I work quickly." "I enjoy being well-organized." "I have enough energy to accomplish my goals."
    • Directed imagination. For example, we visualize ourselves working effectively. And we visualize the goal as though we have already attained it; this image can inspire us.
    • Energy toning. We can develop the energy tones of enthusiasm, vigor, etc.
    • The "as if" principle. When we act "as if" we are managing time well, we are indeed doing it.
  2. We make to-do lists. We can have to-do lists for various time-periods (e.g., one day, or one week, or one month), and for different areas of our life (e.g., our job, hobbies, household chores, family matters, etc.). If we write tomorrow's list today, we can be more objective regarding our priorities; if we wait until tomorrow, our priorities might seem less important than whatever we feel like doing.
  3. We prioritize our tasks. On our to-do lists, we can use numbers or color-codes to indicate priorities. We complete the #1 item, then #2, and so on. Prioritizing helps to assure that we will accomplish our most-important tasks, even if we don't accomplish all of the tasks.
  4. We are organized. In a neat, orderly work-area, we know where things are located, so we can find them quickly. However, some people (e.g., those inscrutable right-hemisphere individuals) are more productive among clutter and chaos.
  5. We delegate tasks. We might be able to delegate some tasks to other people, e.g., our employees or our children.
  6. We divide a big job into smaller ones. The task is now less intimidating and easier to schedule; it is an assortment of smaller tasks which can be performed during smaller available increments of time. However, this strategy has a disadvantage; we require time to gather our materials each time we return to the chore.
  7. We create deadlines -- or not. Some deadlines are imposed by other people, e.g., our boss. When there are no innate reasons why a task must be completed by a particular time, we can create our own deadlines anyway -- for the purpose of motivation, challenge, and maintain our focus.
  8. We learn to say "no" assertively. If we yield to every request for help, our lives can become too full with responsibilities -- committee memberships, volunteer work, etc.
  9. We make a time log. With this record of our time usage, we can see how we are spending our time; we might be surprised by the amount of time that is squandered by unimportant tasks. To create a time log, we pause at regular intervals to write a brief description of our current activity; for example, at 11 a.m., we "wrote a memo to Mr. Peterson"; at 11:15 a.m., we "swapped jokes with Mary at the water cooler."
  10. We frequently remind ourselves of our goals. Thus, we do not become overly distracted by the unrelated tasks which arise.
  11. We choose goals which are worthy. If we attain goals which are not truly relevant to our values and our material needs, we have wasted our time.
  12. We follow our own rhythm of work. To meet a deadline, we push ourselves to work as long and hard as necessary. But when we don't have a deadline, we are more productive if we pay attention to our capabilities moment-by-moment. For example:
    • We might notice that we have more energy at particular times of the day. Some of us are "morning people," so we can consistently schedule our challenging tasks for the morning.
    • When we feel energetic, we can choose to work on our difficult tasks. But when we are less energetic, we can perform easier chores; we don't waste our time trying to do a job for which we don't have enough vigor.
    • We become sensitive to our various types of vitality. For example, when we become weary from our intellectual tasks, we can switch to a physical task, or a creative task, or an interpersonal task. Thus, we create a rhythm in which we are performing one type of duty while re-charging from the previous one.
    • We allow ourselves some time for relaxation, recreation, and vacations. If we try to work all of the time, we become fatigued and less productive anyway, so we might as well take those breaks.