Time management. It’s not hard, but for the majority of people it is still a challenge. I’d like to give you a simple tool in this blog to help you manage your time better. First I’m going to start with a story I heard several years ago.
A professor addressed his class on the first day of the semester holding a large, empty glass jar. He proceeded to ask the class a few questions about the glass.
The professor asked, “Is the jar full?” “No,” was the response from the class. The professor then placed several large rocks carefully inside the jar, up to the top.
The professor then asked, “Now is it full?” “Yes,” the class answered. The professor then poured gravel into the jar filling in the empty space around the rocks.
The professor then asked, “Now is it full?” “Yes, now it’s full,” the class answered. The professor then poured sand up to the top of the jar, filling in around the gravel and large rocks.
The professor again asked, “Now is it full?” “Yes,” the class answered with a few laughs. The professor then poured water up to the top of the jar, completely filling it.
The point the professor was trying to make to his class was that you need to take care of the big rocks first. It was possible to put the rocks, gravel, sand, and water into the jar together, but in that order only. It would be impossible to add the big rocks last. The same goes with managing your time. Knock out the big rocks in your day first. Here is a suggestion on how to do that.
Time Management Exercise
Set aside fifteen minutes preferably at the end of your day to plan the next day. Make a to do list that includes everything you need to do. Then select the six most important tasks you have, and label them in order of importance, 1-6.
Take those six items and list them in order and next to them write how much time in hours/minutes you are going to dedicate to them.
Finally place those items in your daily calendar, scheduling them for exactly when you plan to work on them.
Make sure you also plan time in your day for the unexpected. Also allocate time for interruptions. Planning for interruptions is important. Think about all the time wasted each day by people interrupting what you are doing. You have to stop what you are doing, listen to them, provide a response, and then get back on track with what you were doing. It may be hard to do at first, but allocate 30 minutes to an hour for non-emergency interruptions at a certain time in the morning and afternoon. You’ll find that once your colleagues get used to this they are able to answer most of the questions they had for you on their own, and more importantly you’ll be able to stay on task without interruption.
You can download this simple guide explaining the process of writing your to do list and organizing it with the top six items. Try it for a couple of weeks, and let us know how your time management has improved.