The outburst of the global COVID-19 pandemic and the new norm that came with it, no doubt has changed the world upside down and managing time in the home, the workplace, academia, religious gathering places and other areas of our lives becomes a difficult task for everyone. Our normal schedules and usual way of doing things suddenly changed. Rescheduling, replanning, and reprograming eventually effects our time and our lives. Managing time with family, friends and other relational issues becomes stressful and many have become very violent, and lives have been lost due to over crowdedness of our time.
You might be wondering how to cope and concentrate during the stressful conditions created by the pandemic. Here are some of the tips that can help you to manage the time and help to focus on what you are doing so you can be more productive towards your goal.
Permit me refer you to the Book of books the Bible. Psalm 90:12 says, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (NIV). “Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom” (NLT). “Teach us to use wisely all the time we have” (CEV). “Teach us how short our life is, so that we may become wise” (GNT).
Get this settled in your mind:
Time management most often begins with setting goals. These goals are recorded and may be broken down into:
- a project,
- an action plan,
- or a simple task list or calendar of activities.
Activities are then rated based on urgency and importance, priorities assigned, and deadlines set. This process results in a plan with a task list or calendar of activities. Routine and recurring tasks are often given less focus to free time to work on tasks that contribute to important goals. It has been said, “take care of the minutes, for the hours will take care of themselves”.
Understanding, identifying and defining your long-term goals is the very first step for an effective time management. With the broader goal in the background, you can now set your short-term goals that will effectively lead you to achieving your long cherished long-term goals in your life. Managing time well enables you to be in control of your life; it allows you to act on situations rather than react to situations.
When reacting to situations you are ill prepared and under stress, your action will be far from your optimum capacity. At the heart of time management is an important shift in focus: Concentrate on results, not on being busy. This is one of the most important time management skills.
Daily break your tasks into perceived goals. Take them one at a time. It takes you from busyness to accomplishments.
According to the Pareto Principle, the ‘80:20 Rule’, 80% of unfocussed effort generates only 20% of results. While 80% of results are achieved with only 20% of focused effort. Time Management is about doing the right things and doing them better. You cannot do anything better and well without goal setting.
Being more specific. Let’s briefly look at Setting SMART Goals:
As earlier pointed out, goal setting is critical to effective time management strategies. Goal setting can be used in every single area of your life, including financial, physical, personal development, relationships, or even spiritual development.
Setting meaningful, long-term goals is a giant step toward achieving your dreams. It is also important to make sure that all of your goals unleash what have been called the three P’s of goal setting. They are:
- Goals should be set positively, so they would help you feel good about yourself and what you’re trying to accomplish.
- Goals must be personal. They must reflect your own dreams and values.
- When setting goals, be sure to consider what’s possible and within your control.
As you attempt setting smart goals, you must take into consideration the SMART Way:
SMART is a convenient acronym for the set of criteria that a goal must have in order for it to be realized by the goal achiever
- SPECIFIC: Your goals must be well-defined and clear
- MEASURABLE: Your goals must include measurable indicators to track progress
- ATTAINABLE: Your goals must realistic and achievable within the resources, time, money, experience, etc. you have.
- RELEVANT: Your goals must align with your other life goals. If you are a full-time businessperson with maybe a lower academic credentials. You decide to improve and upgrade your academic credential due to the demand of your business, meanwhile, you are also a married person. You should make sure that your long-term and short-term goals reflect and are relevant to your family development, your finances capability.
- TIMELY: Your goals must have a finishing date.
Developing the SMART Guide Strategy:
- Including this SMART Guide strategy in your approach should work to answer the following 4 W’s.
- What needs to be accomplished?
- Why are you doing this?
- Who will be involved in the process?
- Where will the necessary resources come from?
As you develop the SMART Way, you should:
- Prioritizing Your Goals
- When you are prioritizing, choose a goal that will have the greatest impact on your life compared to how long it will take to achieve.
- Emotionalizing and visualizing your goal will help you create the desire to materialize it into your life. One of the best visualization tools is having a vision board somewhere in your room or in a notebook.
- Prioritizing Your Time
- Time management is about more than just managing our time; it is about managing ourselves in relation to time. When you start to analyze and breakdown your life into elements it’s very easy to see 80/20 ratios all over the place. Focus On Your Passions, not professional nor material possessions.
Being Assertive: One of the strongest personal treats is being assertive especially in your communal involvement. When requests are made of you, no matter how less demanding it may be, but unrelated to your goals, or takes away your time and focus, you must learn how to:
- Say no, followed by an honest explanation
- Say no and then briefly clarify your reasoning without making excuses
- Say no, and then give an alternative
- Empathetically repeat the request in your own words, and then say no.
Guide to Developing an Effective Action Plan:
- Planning on turning your vision into reality. And what’s your best way to avoid challenges and problems during this journey? You need a solid action plan.
- We have outlined 7 steps below explaining how to write an action plan.
How to Write an Action Plan:
Note that some of the points on the steps might sound repetitious to you. What I am doing is re-emphasizing the importance of some of those points.
- Step 1: Define your end goal
- If you are not clear about what you want to do and what you want to achieve, you are setting yourself up for failure.
- Planning a new initiative? Start by defining where you are and where you want to be.
- Solving a problem? Analyze the situation and explore possible solutions before prioritizing them.
- Then write down your goal. And before you move on to the next step, run your goal through the SMART criteria.
- Step 2: List down the steps to be followed:
- The goal is clear. What exactly should you do to realize it?
- Create a rough template to list down all the tasks to be performed, due dates and people responsible.
- It’s important that you make sure that your entire team (family, friends, etc.) are involved in this process and has access to the information you have developed as action plan. This way everyone will be aware of their roles and responsibilities in the project.
- Make sure that each task is clearly defined and is attainable. If you come across larger and more complex tasks, break them down to smaller ones that are easier to execute and manage.
- Step 3: Prioritize tasks and add deadlines:
- It’s time to reorganize the list by prioritizing the tasks. Some steps, you may need to prioritize as they can be blocking other sub-steps.
- Add deadlines, and make sure that they are realistic. Consult with the person responsible for carrying it out to understand his or her capacity before deciding on deadlines.
- Step 4: Set Milestones:
- Milestones can be considered mini goals leading up to the main goal at the end. The advantage of adding milestones is that they give your team members opportunity to look forward to something and help them stay motivated even though the final due date is far away.
- Start from the end goal and work your way back as you set milestones. Remember not to keep too little or too much time in between the milestone you set. It’s a best practice to space milestones two weeks or some weeks apart.
- Step 5: Identify the resources needed:
- Before you start your project, it’s crucial to ensure that you have all the necessary resources at hand or a firm commitment to complete the tasks. And if they are not currently available, you need to first plan to acquire or secure them.
- This should also include your budget. You can assign a column of your action plan to mark the cost of each task if there are any.
- Step 6: Visualize your action plan:
- The point of this step is to create something that everyone can understand at a glance and that can be shared with everyone.
- Whether your action plan comes in the shape of a flowchart, or table, make sure that it clearly communicates the elements we have identified so far – tasks, task owners, deadlines, resources, etc.
- This document should be easily accessible to everyone and should be editable.
- Step 7: Monitor, evaluate and update:
- Allocate some time to evaluate the progress you’ve made with your team.
- You can mark tasks that are completed as done on this final action plan, bringing attention to how you’ve progressed toward the goal.
- This will also bring out the tasks that are pending or delayed, in which case you need to figure out why and find suitable solutions. And then update the action plan accordingly.
Dealing with and Overcoming Procrastination:
Procrastination means delaying a task (or even several tasks) or putting things that should be a priority off. The ability to overcome procrastination and tackle the important actions that have the biggest positive impact in your life is a hallmark of the most successful people out there.
Why We Procrastinate?
- No clear deadline
- Inadequate resources available (time, money, information, etc.)
- Don’t know where to begin
- Task feels overwhelming
- No passion for doing the work
- Fear of failure or success
- Continuous frustration – Have you ever made or heard comments like, “I hope,” “I wish,”
- Boredom – Boredom is a way of life, and a great escape for not using present moments constructively.
- Impotent goals – We never get around to accomplishing our goals. Our comments are always loaded with “I will’s”.
- Always having unsolved problems – Have you ever felt like trying to put out new fires?
- Waste of the present – The past is history and tomorrow is only a vision, but the procrastinator waste today.
- Unfulfilled life.
- Poor health/poor maintenance – We put off visiting the doctor to have a checkup for the lump in our breast or the unusable tiredness. Then it is too late.
- A life of indecision – When we put off decisions, we are forfeiting important opportunities.
- Poor human relationships –The people in our family, our church, our work, and our community become restless around us if we aren’t capable of doing anything.
- Fatigue – With all the above energy drains working against us, no wonder we’re tired at the end of the day.
Nineteen ways to Overcoming Procrastination:
- Recognize the futility of procrastination as a way of living.
- Break down overwhelming tasks into small tasks.
- Face unpleasant tasks squarely.
- Delete it.
- Ask for advice.
- Remove distractions.
- Do a start-up task.
- Take advantage of your moods.
- Think of something important that you have been putting off.
- Make a commitment to someone.
- Give yourself a reward.
- Give yourself deadlines.
- Resolve to make every day count.
- Be decisive and have the courage to act.
- Refuse to be bored.
- Practice doing absolutely nothing.
- Ask yourself. “What’s the best use of my time and energy right now?”
- Ask yourself, “What is the greatest problem facing me, and what am I going to do about it today?”
- DO: If a task can be completed in two minutes or less, do it immediately.
- DELETE: If the material is trash or junk, delete it.
- DEFER: If the task is one that can’t be completed quickly and is not a high priority item, simply defer it.
- DELEGATE: If the task is not yours to do, then delegate it.
Although this teaching is coming to a close, we hope that your journey to improve your time management skills is just beginning especially during this crucial and critical season in your life?
Let me give us some words from the Wise:
- HARVEY MACKAY: Time is free, but it’s priceless. You can’t own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep it, but you can spend it. Once you’ve lost it, you can never get it back.
- NAPOLEON BONAPARTE: Take time to deliberate, but when the time for action arrives, stop thinking and go.
- BENJAMIN FRANKLIN: You may delay, but time will not.
The Apostle Paul in Ephesians. 5:15-17; 15 says. “Act like people with good sense and not like fools. 16 These are evil times, so make every minute count. 17 Don’t be stupid. Instead, find out what the Lord wants you to do” (CEV)
What I believe he is saying is, because activity is not necessarily accomplishment, I advise you to:
- Analyze your lifestyle – v15
- Utilize the present – v16
- Prioritize what is important – v17
While everyone, every day, gets the same amount of time, not everyone gets the same results. Therefore, once again take another look at the Scriptures we started with:
Psalm 90:12; “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (NIV). “Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom” (NLT). “Teach us to use wisely all the time we have” (CEV). “Teach us how short our life is, so that we may become wise” (GNT).