Third in a series
Here are some questions worth thinking about. How do you measure time? How do you spend your time? And, most important, how do you know you have spent your time well?
Time is a limited resource, but which is equally at our disposal. What we choose to do with the hours that we have at our disposal is what makes the difference. That is precisely why, many times, even though we are busy 24 out of 24, the results fail to show up. This causes lack of satisfaction on all levels. Then we shouldn’t be surprised that our life is not what we would like it to be.
Time is also an intangible asset. So, we many times fail in accurately assessing its true value. We underestimate its impact on our activities and we sell it at a cheap price. Or even worse, we give it for free. This happens because we take time for granted. So isn’t it funny that we often use the “We’re running out of time” tagline?
Here are the most important reasons for which we are running out of time:
1. Absence of priorities
Not everything we do brings us closer to success, to what really matters to us and what we want to obtain. The established objectives are the most important, and priorities are the activities that bring us closer to reaching them. Always make sure that you can distinguish operational activities from the ones that generate progress.
From the first hours of the day, we busy ourselves with less important activities. Whether we read the news or other websites, or we wait to wake up and start working, we often leave what is really important for later. Personally, I start my morning with an important, difficult task that guarantees me a sure result regarding the projects I involve myself in.
3. The sense of emergency
Some people can be productive and “make things happen” only when they are pressed by time. If a task does not have to be completed immediately, then, probably out of commodity or other reasons, it can wait until the dead line. This habit may be observed especially in students, when, even though they know months ahead, they postpone studying for an important exam for the last few days. Procrastination develops into a new, modern, state of the art social disease. But the good news is that the pill is already on the market and it is called time management.
4. Faulty organizing
The lack of order and clarity does not lead to good results. I doubt that someone with a chaotic schedule and disorganized working environment truly knows what is important and has priority. Chaos causes stress and lack of control. To carefully program tasks can only be to your advantage. Try it!
5. The almighty e-mail
I have always wondered how e-mails became a life and death issue. They are always there in our taskbar, ready to pop-up in the middle of any really important report we are dealing with. E-mails are for most of us a morning concern, be it out of curiosity, out of a wish to postpone or lack of well established priorities. As soon as a new message is received we stop any previous activity and we read it. I doubt that this is the number 1 priority for someone, unless one performance indicator is the answering speed. I recommend we work with our e-mails switched off and pick several times during the day to read and answer messages.
6. Lack of planning
It is important to foresee some activities and plan them. To be more precise, we should allocate time during which we should work on what matters most for us, and produces the results we desire.
Most people guide themselves by the concept of urgency, however, in order to benefit from the positive changes in our lives, we must reorganize the way we spend our time according to importance and not time limitations. Therefore, I suggest a new paradigm of day to day task prioritization on two axes as an efficient instrument: classification by urgent/non-urgent tasks and important/unimportant tasks.
If we ignore the way we manage our time we might very well end up not being able to do any of the tasks that we are supposed to complete. In situations where the amount of work is too large and the time is too short time management skills become crucial. It is highly likely that bad time management will lead to utter failure and the results would be zero. Unless we are careful with the way we use our time resources, “a thousand times, zero is zero” ? Warren Buffet. We save energy and water, but we constantly waste time. I’d say researchers should join their efforts to find ways of recycling time.
Irina Alexandra Iles firstname.lastname@example.org
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