Shyamsundar Ramanathan in Tradesman and skilled workers, Directors and Executives, English Director - Head of Delivery QA • VirtusaPolaris Oct 7, 2016 · 4 min read · +500

A to Z of Time Management - 26 Tips to be at your Productive Best

A to Z of Time Management - 26 Tips to be at your Productive BestAs it is often said time is an equal opportunity employer. There are so many time management books and with the advent of technology we thought we will get more control which may not be the case. Here is my A - Z of time management which can help you towards getting the most out of the 24 hours we get every day.

Attention – You get in life what you pay attention to. It is important to pay attention only to the important things to you and ignore everything else. The more attention you pay to the things that matter to you the better control you have over your time.

Be focused – We all have 100 things pending. We have books we want to read, articles we want to write and multiple hobbies that we want to pursue. However with limited time we need to be focused only on the things that matter.

Clarity – All successful time managers absolutely know what they want out of their lives. They are also clear on their personal and organizational mission. Without crystal clear clarity you cannot be a successful time manager. Be clear on the objectives, vision and mission of your life.

Discipline –Time Management is a discipline and you need to view time as a perishable commodity. All successful time managers are disciplined with respect to meeting their schedule, managing their time and also ensuring no time is spent on meaningless activities. 

Energy – To get the most out of life with the time available you need to have a lot of energy. We have multiple demands with work, family and friends. To meet all those demands with a smile we need to maintain high energy levels. To maintain high energy sleep well, take adequate rest, exercise and eat well.

Forget Yesterday – This is the key as we will always have things which we could have completed yesterday but didn’t. If we keep thinking of the things that we didn’t complete we won’t have the energy to complete what is needed today.

Gift – View every 24 hours as a gift as it is indeed. Once you have this perspective you will automatically make sure you use your time effectively. The only question you should answer is “Is this the most valuable use of my time now.” If the answer is no you should change that activity with something more important.

Hours – Some people advise that most productive people look into 24 hours in terms of minutes and plan accordingly. However I think planning in hours is better. I believe you can concentrate on one thing for a maximum of 90- 120 minutes. So break down your tasks into 2 hour segments and block distraction. When you are working intensely block out social media and all notifications. 

Interest – Develop interest in whatever you do for a living. If you don’t have that interest then work becomes drudgery and you won’t have the motivation to manage yourself well.

Joy– If we don’t have any joy in whatever we do there is no point in managing ourselves with the time available. Make sure every day you engage in activities that provide joy. 

Don’t Kram – Don’t schedule every minute of the day because that’s when you feel overwhelmed just looking at your calendar. Make sure you have those unscheduled down times on a daily basis if possible to do the things that make your heart sing.

Love life – If you love life there is no need for time management as you will automatically want to make the most of the time available. So love your life and as mentioned earlier see it as a gift to showcase your remarkable talent. 

Manage yourself– We all get 24 hours but how we manage ourselves within that time is the key. Make sure you know what you are after and focus only on that. Warren buffet reportedly said “Write down 25 things. Then choose the top 5 and ignore the rest of the 20 things.”

No – No is the best word in your vocabulary of time management. The best thing to do is to never compare yourself with others. You might think others are doing much more than you but going down that path is not useful. You have to say no to the things that don’t move you towards your larger vision.

Overlook – If you have not used your time well in the past there is no point in brooding over it now. Just overlook all the things that happened in the past and just focus on getting the most out of yourself this very day.

Prioritize – As Stephen Covey says “Don’t prioritize your schedule. Instead schedule your priorities.” Make a list of items to be completed and then focus only on the top priorities for that day. Doing this consistently will eventually lead us to achieve all our important goals.

Quiet – In order to get the most out of every day you need spend some time being quiet. When you are quiet you get great ideas and your mind becomes clear. You also feel like you have more time when you have some quiet time rather than moving fast between task to task.

Reflection – This is best done through a journal. Every week note down what went well, what can be done better. Your life is worth recording. In the weeks when I do this I feel better about myself. There is always something we have done well in any week.

Stop doing list – We all have to-do lists but to be effective you need stop do lists. I think Peter Drucker was the first to mention this idea. For example you might have something like I don’t want to drink every week. This helps in ensuring you stick to your agreements.

Teachable – When you have a teachable attitude you are open to new ideas. This helps because if you are flexible and learn something new you will save some time implementing the new solution.

Upbeat – As a great time manager you need to maintain an upbeat attitude. You can do this by smiling, being enthusiastic in your communication and maintaining an overall optimistic stance. This will help you have more joy with the 24 hours you are blessed with. 

Vision - I know vision is always associated with leadership but to me all good time managers have a great vision on where they want to be in the future. They begin with the end in mind by executing flawlessly with the time available to reach the ultimate vision of the organization. 

Work – In time management you have to view your work in such a way that you are paid hourly. If you prioritize your work with the 9 hours per day and complete all the work then you free up sometime for other personal pursuits. Work has to be planned. 

Avoid Xtreme positions – There are some gray areas in time management. Be prepared not to adopt any extreme positions and be open to change in schedule. Being rigid will create internal discontent.

Yardstick – As a time manager you need to have a measure against which you will be managed. Metrics are the key to successful analysis. Have yardsticks defined for every part of your life and reflect on those weekly. 

Zenith – Your job as an effective time manager is to ensure you reach the zenith which means reaching the ultimate summit of your potential. Once you reach the predetermined outcome you have defined then your success is assured. Once you reach the summit you will know you have used your time well.

There you have it the A –Z of Time Management. Of course this is not easy to implement but a gentle reminder on what is really required to manage ourselves well on our life journey. Time management is the key to get the most out of life. I have written earlier on A to Z of ManagementA to Z of LifeA to Z of Leadership, A to Z of Love and A - Z of Success. Thanks for reading this post.

The views expressed here are my own and do not represent my organization.