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Don't ask for more time, manage it

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To be able to manage time, one should have clarity on goals one aspires to achieve. In a recent personal conversation with a training participant,...

To be able to manage time, one should have clarity on goals one aspires to achieve. clock1In a recent personal conversation with a training participant, he asked me for some tips on how to manage time. He is not alone; there are so many among us who like to know how to master time management. You ask any HR manager or training manager and they will tell you how often they receive requests for a training on time management. I am not an exception too. I vividly recall how fascinated I was when I heard of an especially designed diary which would help in managing time. I placed the order and celebrated having the newly arrived diary in my hand. To my utter surprise, nothing much changed in the way I managed my time. As I reflected, a question cropped up in my mind: "What is that every one of us is looking for? Is it really time management?" Is 'time' not something that is given and it is there for each of us equally? If so, perhaps, what we are looking for is how to make best use of the time that is given to all of us equally. When viewed from this perspective, then it may not be apt to call it as time management. In order to make best of time, we first need to manage ourselves and our thoughts. How to manage ourselves to utilise our time better? Here are the five dimensions that one should look at. 1. Goal Clarity: This is the most important starting point of taking charge of your time. Are you clear about what you want to do with your life/career? When there is no clarity on what you wish to achieve, then how does it matter what you do with your time? So, think for yourself and articulate your goals. They can be goals for next few years, next one year, next quarter or just for next one month. It is always better to start with a long term goal and then break it down to shorter time frames.
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2. Self Motivation: Many people carry out the above step of goal clarity after they attend a session or talk. But the critical aspect that keeps you going is your motivation to pursue those goals. If you are not energised by your goals, you will not be able to put in action the goals you wrote on paper. If you are not sufficiently motivated by your goals, it is important to revisit your goals and reset. They should energise and drive you on a sustained basis. 3. Organising Ability: Let us assume that you have your goals in place and you are sufficiently motivated to pursue them. The next important dimension is to have thought clarity on how you will organise your day or week around your goals. Try doing an audit on your last one week and check how you utilised your time and if it was in sync with your goals. If you had ended up doing several things other than pursuing your goals, it is a clear indication that you lack the organising ability to take control of how you spend your time. 4. Self Discipline: Taking charge of time calls for high degree of self discipline. If you articulated your goals, you are motivated and you also planned how you want to organise your day, it is a great achievement. However, what keeps you stick on is self discipline � a factor that gives you the staying power. Imagine how many times you planned something, practiced for a few days and then you had given up. 5. Managing Others: In an interdependent world, your time is also demanded by others just as you demand others time. It is therefore important how sensitively you manage others while implementing your daily schedule. Tightly planning every hour of your day and then getting frustrated when others demand your time is quite common. A practical way to deal with this aspect is not to plan the day too tightly. Leave a little space so as to accommodate others into your schedule. Ultimately, it is important to realise that time management is self management.
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