Time management techniques can help you plan, organise and prioritise activities every day or for longer periods (week, month or year). These methods are not always effective, because they are based on universal time (clock time) and not on each person’s perception of time combined with the activities they have to achieve. Time Management must done every day.
To better organise your time and to accomplish activities in one particular day, you can apply the following steps:
- Workspace should be in order and with no distractions, (telephone, email, Internet, TV, friends, social networks, computer games or game console) this will aid concentration. It has been proven that if we get distracted by another activity, it takes at least 10 minutes to return to the original activity.
- Make a list of all activities for that day. For each activity, rate them by importance and urgency, and set a time frame (start – end) in which to implement it. If the activity extends over a longer period of time, then divide it into sub-activities. For each activity identify the venue (e.g. office, reading room).
- Prioritise activities using Eisenhower principle (1.2.2 chapter) organise activities into an agenda list. The activities should be put in the agenda so that the most difficult must be scheduled when you are the most productive (corresponding to circadian rhythm). If the two activities have the same importance and urgency levels, then you can assign them degrees e.g. more important, less important. Activities involving creativity must be arrange at times when you have less energy. Activities not urgent and not important should be scheduled during periods of lowest energy, for example, reply to emails, online chat or phone, read the news or internet searching, conversations with others etc.)
- Plan relaxing breaks between activities or do something which distracts your attention from your current activity. Some possible activities are:
- Before each planned activity, schedule a few minutes to assess expected results. After each activity you should plan several minutes to evaluate obtained results.
- Get up from the desk and do some physical exercises.
- Play some sport.
- Go up and down some stairs.
- Take a small meal or a healthy snack.
- Keep hydrated. Water is best.
- Periodically reorganise your list of activities. The importance and urgency of activities may change during the day.
- Search for help from friends, teacher, internet, documents etc. when you are in trouble.
- Rest for at least 7-8 hours every night to keep your energy and productivity levels high.
- Establish a time frame for responding to emails.
- Set the receiving email sound on mute.
- Set your status to “Busy” on chat applications.
- Switch the phone off or have a list of callers whose calls it is urgent to answer, and ignore calls until you take a break.
- Read the news at the beginning or the end of the day.
- Do not connect to social networks during planned activities.
- Close the door and put up a “Do not disturb” sign.
- Use headphones to block out your roommates or other noise.
- Reorganise materials regulary in folders and books.
Workspace should be convenient and practical. Here are some tips to improve your working conditions:
- The office chair should have the right height.
- Position of the desk should be close to a natural source of light. If it’s not possible, ensure the desk is well lit.
- The walls should be decorated with images of nature, which will increase your creativity.
- You should listen to music to increase your concentration and block out ambient noise. It is believed that listening to instrumental or “white noise” (calming sounds) has a calming effect.