One of the most common challenges people tell me is; their struggle with Time. In this ongoing struggle they finally label themselves ‘as lazy or a procrastinator’ or worst no good and simply give up.

Even though time is one thing that is granted to all of us in equal quantity, people continue to feel that others have more of it than they have. This is thanks to the pace of life that we are living with, in the 21st century, which is often overwhelming.

Our jobs are more demanding, our kids have more classes and after school activities, social activities are far more and it’s a tough task to keep up with everything that is going on around us, all the social media only adds fuel to the fire. And yet, we long to do other things that require a time commitment, things that give us a sense of achievement and fulfillment, that nurture our talents and interests… and we wonder ‘Will we ever be able to juggle everything and still do the things we enjoy?’

One of the factors contributing to our success is us managing our time to do activities that make us feel fulfilled over and above our professional engagement. Being a rather disciplined and structured person by nature (which also has its own follies, trust me) I have learned a few things towards efficient time management. They have helped me in charting my own success path in life and I am sure some of these, if not all will assist you as well;

One of the most efficient modern age technical invention is the calendar that is available on our electronic devices and is a must to manage time efficiently. A calendar helps in scheduling events, meetings and tasks and keeping a track on them. Our smart phones and Google apps are equipped not just to remind us but even allocate the required time needed for any activity. They tell us when to start, when to finish and how much time is remaining. Make use of the same. From birthday reminders to meeting schedules, all can be done on these smart calendars.

The evergreen To-Do-List is another method I have found very useful, even in the modern age, of electronics. Writing down what all needs to be done helps us to remember and priorities. We can be more realistic about what we can accomplish when we write down everything we have to do. To be efficient we deserve to have a restful mind. I have avoided having chaos in the head by writing what all I need to do.

Being clear about our priorities helps a great deal. Our family will most likely be our first priority. But if the occasional work project has to temporarily come first then that needs to be accommodated as well; however when we clearly acknowledge our priorities, decision about managing time becomes easier

We are not superhuman, even though we sometimes act and believe so. One needs to be realistic about the timelines we establish. Can we really get ready for the Ganpati festival in 2 days? Or for the annual official dinner in 4 days, along with the kids exams? Estimating how much how much time is needed to be fully prepared is an efficient way to create a reasonable timeline for big projects

When I learnt to say “NO” a lot of my time management issues fell in place. Interestingly enough I didn’t really have to say NO as such, as once I started to schedule my day and work, I often had to state my inability to do something because I was already pre-committed for something else. Saying no became so much more easier, and guilt free. If you are a professional like me, with time committed to a corporate job, then it’s unrealistic to think we’ll be able to attend every event at our kids’ school or oblige every friend in need.

When I planned and stared to use the to-do list and a calendar, I started to recognize the trouble spots during my week. I realized Friday’s after school were tough spot for me because my daughter had to go for basketball practice and my driver had prayers and on most Fridays went home half day. Plus, that’s the day that I usually had weekend planning to do in the office. Once I realized this, I was actually able to manage and juggle things around and solicit help from my husband and colleagues and eventually Fridays were no longer the monster that ate me up before my weekend.

I also learnt to be flexible, even though my calendar and to- do-list stated something, I was able to manage and slot unexpected things that were thrown in my plate. I was much calmer and able to switch things around in my schedule at much more ease.

One of my big time guzzlers were the meetings that I had to hold and attend, (some totally useless of course). Many meetings lack productivity and take too much time. I started to excuse myself from the meetings where I could (of course I had to exercise my good judgment on it). I stared to hold meetings with fixed start and finish time, with agendas circulated before hand to those attending, with clear mandates on who was expected for what. My meetings stared to be shorter, crisper and productive. There are various tools available on-line to learn how to manage the meeting, I suggest do find time to read up on them. Guaranteed at least 30 to 60 minutes time saved if meetings are well managed.

Interesting when I started to work at some of these things to manage my day and time, I suddenly had time for myself, for things that I enjoyed doing and couldn’t do as “I never had the time” before. I took up running regularly and was able to start coloring and took up NLP course that I wanted to do. This fueled me further as I felt much more productive on both professional and personal front.

Of course there are no hard and fast rules, one must manage the time in a way that works best for each one, however some of the above suggestions have worked very well for my clients who were struggling with time issues and had labeled themselves “Lazy”, they now see themselves doing and accomplishing much more than they had started with.

Start with small steps, one at a time and slowly watch the day change for you. Watch yourself become the expert at managing your time and thus your own life.

(Writer is a Life and Personal Branding Coach and practices in Mumbai, India)

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