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Getting to grips with time management

How is your time management, does it need any improvements? January is a month when you often revaluate your life and think about starting fresh and trying something new. To fit in all the new plans for 2009, you will need to become the master of your time.

There is so much written on the subject. Libraries are full of books telling you the latest tip, trick and technique to creating better time management. New books are being launched in the stores practically monthly, claiming to have the secret we have all been waiting for. And I bet you might even have a book or two on the subject in your home. What is it about time management that makes it such a good subject for discussion and a curiosity to practically everyone? For me although the real question should be: ‘Is time management really what we need to improve?’

The Myth
I have always considered time management to be a bit of a myth and not something you can truly manage. There is only a constant amount of time, a measly 24 hours a day and no matter what you do, there will not be any more time.

This may not be the start you were expecting in an article on time management but there needs to be a shift in your thought patterns so that you can have more successful with your time. That shift needs to be in realising we can only control time through controlling ourselves otherwise known as ‘self management’.

Why is it that certain people appear to accomplish so much with their time? They seem to fit more in their 24 hour day, more clients’ phone calls, more projects and more household chores.

The key to all of this is in knowing;

  • How your time is spent.
  • Being able to choose the most valuable use of your time.
  • Learning how to manage yourself.

When you work from home having self management is even more important as there are so many distractions. These distractions can fritter away your time and prevent you from having career, business or family success.

Time Diary
Just like the people who accomplish more, it is necessary to learn what is currently taking up your time. If you don’t know where you time is going, how will you be able to make any effective changes to improve the situation.

Since we are focusing on self management in the business arena, the first step to take is creating a time diary. Keep track of everything that you do and how long it takes. Make sure to include preparing cups of tea, unproductive tasks, staring off into space, driving the children to activities and especially any household chores you do while ‘at work’. Again I need to emphasise that it is best when you record everything, especially the ‘down time’ in-between tasks, as they can absorb the most amazing amount of time.

The time diary is not meant to be a negative judgmental experience, but an opportunity to learn your current way of working and then put in place definite steps to better manage your time.

As well as working towards accomplishing more, a time diary will allow you to see how long specific tasks take. So when planning your day you have a better idea of what can realistically be fit in and achieved. This helps to avoid an unproductive feeling by expecting too much, or by thinking you are able to accomplish more in the time you have, only to end up feeling frustrated.

Get going with your time diary and have it ready for the following article next month when we will go through some of Purely Peppermint’s self/time management secrets. If the time diary for work reveals interesting information than create one for the other areas of your life and see what you can learn.

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About the Author: Rachael Ross of Purely Peppermint provides specialist consultancy services in developing and introducing an effective home working environment. She works with individuals and businesses by providing bespoke practical solutions for their home office. Through leadership, training, hands-on and telephone support and advice, Rachael ensures that her clients have the greatest of success in their chosen field. To help achieve that success she instructs on, setting boundaries, dealing with isolation, managing clients, managing your time, finding work/life balance, plus much, much more.

A regular contributor to leading working from home websites and magazines, Rachael was invited to the Home Business Summit at the House of Commons to advise central government on how to improve and support home businesses.

Rachael is focused on her clients achieving productive and effective results. Her continual commitment can be seen through the monthly newsletter, packed full of practical tips and solutions to all your home office troubles. For more information on Purely Peppermint and a chance to sign up to her newsletter please visit www.purelypeppermint.com

Photo Credit: Flickr Darwin Bell

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About Rachael Ross

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4 comments

  1. Thanks for this very practical and helpful post about time diaries. I am a big proponent of knowing where you’re starting, as a precursor to change, and have cited your post in my blog.

    I especially like your point about tracking the “down time” that can so easily go unnoticed and eat up precious hours.

    Thanks!

  2. Hello Paula

    I am glad you liked the advice about keeping a time diary. Have you used a time diary in the past? If not are you creating one now?

    Keep your eye out for the next article where you can find out how to further use your time diary.

    Regards
    Rachael

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