Among the top causes of stress at work are workload, working hours, and unrealistic deadlines and expectations. So it stands to reason that time management is an important skill for improving employee morale.
Time management is the process of determining how much time to spend on specific activities, especially to increase effectiveness, efficiency and productivity. In recent years, there has been an increased emphasis on work-life balance.
My own interest in time management developed because I felt like last-minute-Lisa. Can you relate? Do you procrastinate?
“…I felt like last-minute Lisa.”
Sometimes people procrastinate because they want everything they do to be perfect. In The Road Back to You, author Ian Cron explains the tendency of a perfectionist (or Enneagram Type One) to procrastinate: “Though they’re self-disciplined and driven to succeed, some Ones can put off starting or completing a project for fear they won’t do it perfectly.”
My colleague Dr. LeAnn Smith reminds me that, “Done is better than perfect.”
Another challenge for time management is feeling overwhelmed with too many tasks on your to do list.
Have you ever felt like the Conquistador of Chaos?
“If you constantly keep your schedule packed beyond the scope of reality, if you always leave everything to the last minute, and if your life feels like one urgent calamity after another, chances are you are a ‘conquistador of chaos.’”
Even if we manage to pull it off every time, author Julie Mortgensen says crisis management is not a skill that we need to test on a daily basis. In Time Management from the Inside Out, she recommends time mapping as a strategy to create balance.
I described how to follow this strategy in the Thursday Tip:
“Using time management to accomplish tasks.”
How to gain clarity on tasks
- Brain dump – list everything you need to do.
- Estimate the time each activity will take to complete, and schedule each activity on your daily calendar.
- Be sure to review the actual time spent on each activity to set realistic expectations in the future.
Management implies a system, so here are a few tools for taking control of your schedule.
How to prioritize
Before you overcommit, ask yourself three important questions to make sure the activity fits with Your Execution Strategy or use our worksheet to prioritize tasks.
One last idea: eat the frog
Mark Twain has been credited with the advice, “Eat a live frog every morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” What does this concept, also attributed to French writer Nicolas Chamfort in the 1700s, mean?
The point is, do the difficult, unpleasant tasks first, and get them out of the way. Then you can focus your attention and energy on the work that you most enjoy.