Like any ‘soft skill’ enhancing your Time Management and Organisational Skills is about progression in a direction. I’m constantly adding new distinctions to my list of time management tips and in recent weeks I’ve added a few more. Some might be minor adjustments, but for me, they’ve made a big difference.
In these days of constant connection and never-ending to-do lists, when it comes to managing our time there will always be trade-offs. If you are saying ‘yes’ to staying in work until 7 pm, what are you saying ‘no’ to? Dinner with the children? If I’m saying ‘yes’ to an extra hour in bed, I’m saying ‘no’ to going to the gym.
When it comes to how we are managing our time, the key is to be fully aware of the decisions we are making, the trade-offs, the opportunity costs and long term consequences of our actions.
There are no absolutes with it comes to time management or work-life balance, but these questions help to focus the mind when we are navigating the shades of grey.
The aim is to have our decision-making process, about where we focus our time and attention, as conscious as possible. Of course, these trade-offs are not one-offs, it’s an on-going activity.
You can be the most organised, focused person, but if you have no energy to give to the day, well not much is happening. When it comes to managing our energy the acronym ‘OWNER’ is a neat reminder of the essentials. We are the owners of our energy levels after all.
O = Oxygen – Sometimes we have to remember to breathe. Purposeful breathing paradoxically energises us but also calms us down.
W= Water – There is a direct correlation between hydration levels and concentration levels.
N= Nutrition – My broad rule of thumb here is that the more naturally colourfully the food is, the better it is for me
E= Exercise – We have to expend energy to create energy.
R= Rest and Relaxation – To paraphrase Stephen Covey we need to take time out to sharpen the saw.
In recent weeks I’ve been paying particular attention to how I manage the transitions. By this, I mean how I manage to move from work to personal life mode, between meetings, from desk work to client-facing work. I’m conscious of how I’m feeling throughout the day and manage my energy levels accordingly.
Whilst they tend to be ‘should’ lists, having some sort of ‘to do’ list is a threshold competency when it comes to organisational skills. (Ink it don’t just think it!) We can have a few variations on ‘to do’ lists. How about a ‘not to do’ list, supplemented with a ‘to learn’ list. (I read recently that Leonardo da Vinci kept such a list.) We could also have a ‘to be’ list, we are human beings, not human doings.
A favourite list of mine is a subset of the never-ending ‘to do’ list. A ‘today’ list. What would I be happy completing today? Anything more than this is above and beyond. In simple terms, my ‘to do’ list has a ‘happy to complete today’ segment. It helps in leaning away from the guilt or frustration that arises when we close the day with more on the ‘to do’ list than when we started, despite having worked a solid eight hours.
The nature of this interconnected world is that other people will pull on your time, energy and focus. As a result, we have to actively work on keeping our own priorities in view. Our own well-being should always be fairly high on our agenda. So a few truths not to lose sight of-
We have all figured out ways to manage our time to the best of our abilities. But just as our phones get a software upgrade every few weeks, our habits around how we organise ourselves often require upgrading too.
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You may also be interested to read my post on how to achieve work-life balance and to ensure you don’t miss any of my updates do sign up to my newsletter below.