“He who every morning plans the transaction of the day and follows out the plan, carries a thread that will guide him through the labyrinth of the most busy life.”
~ Victor Hugo (1802 ~ 1885)
If I asked you what is most lacking in your days, would your answer be time? Would you say that there just don’t seem to be enough time in the day or in any week, to do the things you want to or should do? But time hasn’t decreased, has it? It has remained constant – the same twenty-four hours in every day. Mankind has learnt to harness and manage many things over the centuries. Yet, we have not mastered the management of time.
Is it really that difficult? You can learn to manage your time more efficiently by learning how to manage the tasks that make up our days. And therein is the secret. Actually, it is not a secret at all. So today, we’ll look at tried and tested ways to use our God-given time.
Chances are that in any one day, there will be routine tasks that you do. The left over time is usually filled by occasional duties like weekly or monthly commitments. The drudgery of some of these daily chores often renders us robotic in our movements and we just go through them in a daze without a plan, a thought or an eye to efficiency. We just want to get them done. However, those unavoidable routine tasks can be managed in a way to make them less burdensome and time-consuming.
Schedule time limits.
Schedule routine household and personal tasks just as you would work-related ones. Use a notebook, diary or appointment book. This practice will block the amount of time you devote to a particular activity. When the time is up for each task simply stop and move on to the next.
For this to work though, you must have a fairly accurate idea of how long tasks will take to complete.
The whole system will go haywire if every activity is preceded by half an hour spent hunting down the necessary materials and tools. That is a waste of time.
Ideally, tools and supplies for a particular task should be stored close to the activity centre. Most of us attest to less-than-adequate storage in our homes, but that’s no excuse for having things scattered, cluttered and missing when we need them.
Use whatever storage you have available or improvise. It is not uncommon for people to store supplies and tools in the most unlikely places in their homes – under the kitchen sink, in the garage, on upper shelves in closets, in cardboard boxes and baskets stacked as side table or coffee table and in bags hung on a door or in containers under the bed.
Whatever method you choose, keep your stuff organized and easily accessible.
It’s a common thing to see one person undertaking all the household tasks while the rest of the household relaxes. Once this practice becomes ingrained it is very difficult if not impossible to reverse.
“Every man jack,” (my father’s expression), should pitch in and help. And it is up to the head of the home to inculcate that policy early or he or she might come across as a tyrant later on.
Initially, delegate only those tasks that you believe someone else can handle to your satisfaction. It makes no sense passing off a chore that you will have to return and complete yourself. Once others in the household have proven their ability and more importantly their willingness to complete tasks you assign to them, you could delegate additional or more difficult ones.
Despite its pitfalls, I think multitasking is here to stay. To minimize the frustrations that come with multitasking, only multitask as far as it is comfortable to do so. Maybe we should aim to “double-task” instead. Are you one of those people who insist that you can concentrate on only one thing at a time? Try combining a task that requires motor skills with one that necessitates mental skills.
For example, fold laundry while talking on the telephone. Use an ear-piece attached to your cell phone so that your hands are free to load the washer, wash dishes or sweep the floor. Pay all you bills on the same day, use a one-stop shop bill payment service, or set up a Standing Order with your bank.
When waiting for your children while they take lessons, practice and play sports, or attend rehearsals, instead of fretting, catch up on calls to your parents or friends, write letters, or lose yourself in a portable hobby like, crochet, writing, drawing etc.
Do things right the first time.
A major time-eater and time-waster is having to re-do tasks that you didn’t take the time to do right in the first place. This usually happens when you have too much on your plate, you fear saying “No” or you did not allocate sufficient time for efficiency.
If you tend to move slowly, and nothing is wrong with that, it might be best to focus your attention on one task, how ever long it takes. Do it well and completely.
Learning to manage your time is not a done deal but an ongoing process of learning to balance your responsibilities. If you start today, you can get a good handle on maximizing the twenty-four hours in your day.