A Self-Review Is An Important Part Of The Revision Process Time Management – Planning and Organization

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Time Management – Planning and Organization

INTRODUCTION

Wealth and Time are like Siamese twins. They go together, inseparably. In advocating his thirteen daily virtues, Benjamin Franklin once said: “The way of wealth, if you desire it, is as plain as the way to market. It depends chiefly on two words: industry and frugality. That is, waste neither time nor money, but make the best use of both”.

Unfortunately, all men are guilty of time wastage to various degrees.

You are familiar, I suppose, with the often repeated prayer of confession: “We have left undone those things which we ought to have done and have done those things which we ought not to have done”. What is the real dilemma people face? It is not shortage of time. It is problem of priorities.

The time- tested tools and methods you would find in this paper are an obligatory starting point for optimized time-management. However, they will remain idle tools and unprofitable until you apply them, and this depends on your:

(i) Degree of motivation to manage your time

(ii) Ability to reconsider your attitudes, and

(iii) The will to change deliberately, gradually and permanently.

DIMENSIONS AND CHARACTERISTICS OF TIME

Dimensions of Time

– Past Time: This is irrecoverable.

– Present Time: Available for management or harnessing.

– Future Time: This can be planned for effective use.

Characteristics of Time

– Time is transitive. Lost time is eternally irrecoverable.

– Time abhors vacuum. An unplanned time is automatically occupied by something flimsy and unprofitable.

– Time is an equalizer. All people of all races and status have equal amount of time per day. The real difference between people comes from the use to which they put their own God-given time.

– Time is a scarce resource, a fluid asset. The flow of it can neither be slowed down nor stopped. It is available whether or not one requests for it and passes whether one is aware of it or not. It must therefore be monitored, planned, invested and not spent.

– The flow of time often comes with opportunities. Watchfulness is required to identify and utilized the opportunities embedded in time. As the common parlance goes:”opportunity knocks but once”.

WHY MANAGE TIME?

As with many things that are “free gifts of nature”, the thought of managing time never appeals to the uninformed. Time is supposedly plentiful. If time passes, another would come. Why then should we manage time?

The following are the main reasons why everyone must manage time.

1. Man is made and timed. The human being is programmed to last for a time. In addition, many activities of life are time-bound. Certain activities are more appropriate at certain phases of life. “Make hay when the sun shines”

2. There is the time value of man. A person’s life acquires value over time, and this is dependent on how he/she utilizes his/her time and accompanying opportunities. Destiny is tied to time. What you fail to use rots away.

3. From no (1) above, time is really not abundant. There are only 24 hrs (or 1440mins.) in a day, yet responsibility and activities of life increase as one phase of life gives way to another. The optimum allocation of this limited time among family, friends, fun (including rest) and business is the objective of time management.

4. Your own allocation of the scarce time among the various demands of life actually shows your value system.

5. The entire universe operates under the law of timing and seasons. A time to sow and a time to reap. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to work for money and a time for money to work for you.

6. It is God’s desire for man to manage his time. Time comes in endless flow from eternity to eternity, and God sees it all at once. The breaking down of eternity into days is God’s way of encouraging us to manage time. Every day is a new opportunity to manage better.

7. Time management guarantees rest. Nevertheless, no rest is worthwhile unless rest that is earned.

UNMASKING REAL TIME-WASTERS

1 Misplaced priorities

2 Procrastination

3 Lack of concentration owing to anxiety

4 Anger and unforgiveness

5 Telephone calls

6 Unoccupied colleagues

7 Mediocre or Inexperienced subordinates

8 Perfectionism

9 Queues and Traffic jams

10 Inability to say “No”

11 Unstructured meetings

12 Disorganized environment

13 Failure to delegate

TIME MANAGEMENT DEVICES/TECHNIQUES

A. Present time

1 Insulation – adoption of methods to insulate the manager from attending to irrelevances. An assistant or secretary screens and re-directs letters, calls and visitors. Grouping activities to some preferred time. Separating your social activities from your official ones. This method is pretty difficult where a boss is there to pass things to you at will which you must cope with in addition to your daily plan.

2 Isolation – physical withdrawal to eliminate disturbance

3 Delegation

4 Simplification – simplifying work processes. Filling cabinets, Calculators, computer programmes, having a place for each item.

5 Prioritizing – Practice TIE. (Time involve, Importance of task/activity, Effort required to accomplish the task.

6 Meetings should have structured agenda.

B. Future Time

1. Diaries

2. Desk and Wall calendar

3. Computers

4. “Thing to Do Today” Pads.

5. Table Trays – In tray and out tray

GENERAL TIPS ON TIME MANAGEMENT

1. Set life’s goals as clearly/ specifically as possible with deadlines. This keeps one focused and strengthens one’s resolve to resist distractions.

2. Focus on the critical few activities that make the largest contribution to your goals. The Pareto Principle states that, generally, 80% of what people do contribute only 20% to their life’s goal(s); 80% of life’s goals are attained via 20% of our activities. Subject your “Things to do today” list to this rule of the critical few versus the trivial many.

3. Delegate – Delegation gives time leverage. Delegate the 80% low pay-off activities. Delegation frees one and his time to focus on the vital 20% activities. Demand accountability on delegated tasks. The longer the review intervals, the further from track your project can drift before corrective action is taken.

4. If you have no one to delegate to, schedule the 20% critical activities to your peak, productive time when your energy is high. The trivial 80% can come up later during low energy time.

5. Do it NOW. Do not wait until all things are perfect. Perfectionism is a major time waster. Some people spend a lot of time planning, aiming and aiming without shooting. Fear of failure is another time waster. Be prepared to fail your way to success, if necessary.

6. Plan your work the day (or night) before. Have a mental picture of the future desired state and plan towards it. Research has shown that rehearsal of your plan before actual performance improves goal attainment. A day unplanned leaves one open to the chance of being carried away with other people’s plans or get carried away with the mass of humanity who have no goals, no plans, no future. 7. Learn to say “No,” to people and events particularly those time wasters. Practice insulation or isolation occasionally to enable you focus on vital issues of your life, else you will fit into other people’s plans or their planlessness.

8. Handle paper only once. Either attend to its demands, delegate it, file it or throw it away.

9. Free your self from the bug of past failures and the drag of tomorrow’s anxieties. These are the greatest thieves of energy and time.

10. Learn to proact your react.

11. Practice layering: Using your waiting time productively. For instance, you can listen to quality messages on discs while driving, or reading while being driven in a car or riding on a bus.

12. Do a four-quadrant test daily or weekly. Take a blank piece of paper and divide it into four quadrants. Write down every activity you engaged in during the period under review. In Quadrant I: List all routine activities. Quadrant II: All that happened unexpectedly. Quadrant III: Things that others delegated to you. Quadrant IV: Activities aimed at achieving your goals. What do you find? You may find that routine things, emergencies, other people’s agenda take up most of your time, leaving none for your dream. This exercise, done continually, will train your mind ensure that a daily due attention is paid to issues or tasks that relate to your life’s goal(s).

13. Balance your life. Lack of balance leads to friction and a retardation of speed, as is the case with mechanical things. The following resources of your life need to be developed concurrently if you must achieve a balanced life: your brain, body, being and relationships.

Your brain: This is the most powerful computer. Most people only use a tiny proportion of their potential. Take time to develop your brain (mind); you would be amazed what you can accomplish per unit of time.

Your body: Fearfully and wonderfully made. It is made to last. By taking better care of it and undertaking some exercise, you could be more productive, and make it last longer.

Your being: This is your spirit/soul. This is your essence, your being or spirit side. A well developed spiritual part is the only guarantee of a correct perspective of life in the face of daily pressures. With perspective, you can be more grounded, more tranquil, more at peace because of divine partnership.

People/Relationships: What is life without people? But not all people can contribute (meaningfully) to your life’s goals. The same approach to managing a portfolio of assets may be applied in cultivating a “portfolio” of human relationships. Some need strengthening, others need to be discontinued. Some people need help.

IN – TRAY EXERCISE ON DECISION MAKING

PRIORITY AND TIME MANAGEMENT (PLS RANK 1-10)

A. It is 10 am on Wednesday, just two hours to the long expected examination in one of your core subjects. You expect a compulsory question from one of two seemingly difficult topics. It will take one hour to do a thorough revision.

B. There is a call from the porter’s lodge. Somebody is waiting to deliver an “urgent message” from your mother.

C. Your GSM phone is ringing

D. Your bosom friend and course mate reported sick to campus this morning and is receiving treatment in the clinic. You need to visit the clinic to determine his fitness to write the pending examination. Estimated time – 20 minutes.

E. Your childhood friend and former school mate has just walked into your room unannounced to inform you of his/her wedding to which he/she is inviting you as best man/chief bridesmaid. He/she wants to discuss other “issues of mutual interest”.

F. Your room mate traveled to Kano four days ago and was expected back yesterday. He/She has not returned neither have you been able to establish contact on phone. You wonder why. There is need to urgently establish contact.

G. As president of the Student Union Government, you desire to see the Vice Chancellor to brief him on certain rumblings among the students. You have just been informed that the V.C may soon be on his way to Abuja for a meeting with NUC officials.

H. A mail man has just walked in with a letter marked “CONFIDENTIAL”. You notice a NANS stamp on the envelop. You guess it is in connection with a proposed strike by students nationwide for which a 21-day ultimatum was served on Government. The ultimatum ended yesterday.

I. Today is final day for submission of memoranda on the proposed adjustment of the academic calendar of the University. The Student Union position is on your table for final vetting and signature. The Secretary General is waiting to receive it for submission. Vetting and signature would take 15 minutes.

J. You perceive the odour of an electrical fire in your room.

By Emmanuel Nwachukwu

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