Positive Path Recommended Reading

Time Management Ideas
By Chris Joscelyne

For ten years I taught time management as a visiting lecturer at the Australian Film, Television and Radio School in Sydney. The students undertaking the full-time radio course were required to work for long hours with a demanding mix of theoretical and practical subjects. Time management was a critical factor for them all.

Time is a valuable resource that can be squandered by people who do not understand or practise time management. Without time management it is very easy to be "busy, being busy" while failing to achieve positive outcomes and goals. Life can be much less stressful if time is planned, organised and managed effectively.

Here are seven ideas that work for me.

Using time to think and plan is time well spent. In fact, if you fail to take time for planning, you are in effect, planning to fail. Organize in a way that makes sense to you. Some people prefer a to use a software program like Microsoft Outlook. Others use a day planner, a diary or a wall calendar. Find the system that suits you best and then stick to it. Good planning requires routine and discipline.

Goals give your life, and the way you spend your time, positive direction. Set goals that are specific, realistic, measurable and achievable. Your optimum goals are those that cause you to extend yourself to "go the extra mile" as you strive for achievement. Clear goals will give your life path a much-needed sense of direction.

Use the 80-20 rule originally stated by the Italian economist Pareto. He noted that 80 percent of the outcome comes from 20 percent of the tasks. Identify the 20 percent that is most valuable to you and then prioritise your time to concentrate most effort on those items. A simple and well-tried method of prioritisation is to flag items according to importance by giving them an A, B or C priority, with A being highest priority. Setting deadlines for tasks is another way of maintaining focus on your priorities.

Some people thrive using a daily "To Do" list that they compile at the end of the previous day or at the start of the new day. Such people may combine their "To Do" list with a calendar or a schedule. Others prefer a running "To Do" list that is continuously being updated. My wife uses the daily list, while I prefer the running list. We have each chosen what suits our individual needs. Decide which is the better system for you and try it.

This is the time of day when you are at your natural best. Are you a "lark" (you perform best at the start of the day), an "owl" (you perform best at the end of the day), or are you somewhere in between? Scheduling prime tasks during your internal prime time is a logical way to achieve more in a given amount of time.

Allow time for interruptions and distractions. I suggest the 60-40 rule. That is, plan 60% of your time but allow 40% to deal with interruptions, unplanned activities, meetings without notice, and other unpredictable events. When you expect to be interrupted, schedule routine tasks that can be temporarily halted with minimum stress. For your prime tasks, set aside the larger blocks of time that will be required without interruption. If you are interrupted during any task, pause briefly at the end of the interruption to refocus before you recommence your work. This brief pause will allow you focus on your "pause point" and assist continuity.

A big task may seem daunting and lead to procrastination. A stress reducing time management technique is the "salami" method. This involves cutting the big task into small "slices" and then doing each of the smaller tasks in short manageable time slots. Often it is easier to do a big task in eight time slots of 15 minutes, rather than in one two-hour session. By doing a little at a time you will eventually complete the task.

Some urgent emergencies cannot be avoided because they result from external influences. However this is not always the case. A task can become an urgent emergency because of personal procrastination. Urgent tasks usually have short-term consequences while important tasks are those with long-term, goal-related implications. Work towards reducing the urgent things you must do so you'll have more time for your important priorities. Attaching a realistic deadline to each task may help keep important items from becoming urgent emergencies.

About the author: Chris Joscelyne trained as a clinical hypnotherapist under the tutorage of Margaret Tomko. He was taught grief counselling by Mal McKissock, and he learned meditation in a course sponsored by the Department of Health. He developed his personal awareness knowledge with mentors Barbara and Terry Tebo of Lifespring.

For ten years Chris was a visiting lecturer at the Australian Film, Television and Radio School where he taught personal development, meditation and stress management skills. Now he shares his knowledge with a wider community as a speaker, trainer and coach, teaching people how to live "Life by choice - not by chance". 

An error occurred on the server when processing the URL. Please contact the system administrator.

If you are the system administrator please click here to find out more about this error.