Thursday, December 17, 2009

Time-Starved

I think a good topic to cover in the month of December is time management, as we all pack our holiday to-dos in an already full schedule. It is top of mind for me because I recently gave a presentation on the topic of time management to a group of Alexandria parents of special needs children. I knew that the group would be small, and it was, because it is mid-December and many of us are feeling stressed and time-starved!

My presentation centered around the thought that time management is really about clarity and time. The month of December naturally has us thinking about the year that is drawing to a close, our accomplishments and our hopes and expectations for the new year. This kind of thinking helps us to develop goals that support our priorities. With clarity a person knows what is important, what are their life priorities, and how they want to spend their time. After self-reflection and introspection, then a person can utilize several time management strategies that support the fundamental desire we all have to live a balanced life.

A few time management strategies I talked about are:

  • Become a better estimator of how long tasks take. We all tend to underestimate how long work and personal tasks take. In so doing, we over schedule ourselves, which can leave us feeling like a hamster on a wheel and stressed. Try keeping a time journal, much like a food journal when a person is trying to lose weight. The time journal will help you see how long tasks really take so that you can more accurately plan a realistic schedule.
  • Get organized. On average we lose an hour a day looking for things or trying to figure out what we need to do. This hour adds up to a staggering 14 days a year of time thrown away.
  • Understand your workload. Make sure you fully understand everything that you have to do and that you track it all in one place. I recommend keeping business and personal actions/to dos on separate lists. The reason why this is so important is that you can't know what your priorities are unless you have a total picture of everything you have to do.
I'll post more time management strategies tomorrow...

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