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Time Management 101 — Part 1

march-2013-calendar-16One of the issues experienced by survivors and those who have not experienced brain injury first hand, is we are all constrained by the number of hours in a day. Some people use the majority of their 24 hours sleeping, eating, napping, working, volunteering, playing, snacking, watching television, exercising, learning, or sharing. Other people divide their time evenly or unevenly among many activities. As described in an earlier post, some people are too overwhelmed by the options that they make no decision about how to spend their time. Regardless of how you choose to spend your time, there is a possibility you could spend your time more efficiently.

There is plenty of evidence that time management is a significant problem. For example, if you search for the phrase ‘time management’ in any of the popular web browsers, you will receive more than 200 million results. A search on Google results in 1.94 billion hits. There are thousands of books, videos, webinars and seminars that address the topic of time management. Although each time management expert may focus on a specific management strategy, the two facts shared by all the experts include a belief that people mismanage their time and a solution to time mismanagement exists.

To improve time management, I recommend the following actions:

  • Prioritize your activities.
  • Plan for tomorrow, today.
  • Sleep when you are tired.
  • Take medicine as prescribed by your doctor.
  • Avoid using stimulants to stay awake.
  • Exercise at least 30 minutes per day at least five days per week.
  • Check your email and social media accounts briefly, no more than three times per day.
  • Avoid multitasking and interruptions.
  • Be flexible.

Due to the length of this article, I will divide the content into two or more posts.

Click here to read the next post in the Time Management 101 series.

Prioritize Your Activities

This solution addresses two problems – the need for a To Do list and a strategy for completing tasks on the list. Many people simply exist without knowing what they are trying to accomplish. In other words, they either do not have an accurate To Do list or they do not reference the list. In addition, those who have an accurate Priority ListTo Do list and refer to it regularly might complete activities from their list in order of simplicity or in alphabetical order. The problem with completing activities in order of simplicity or letter is that you may complete several activities that are not urgent then have no energy to complete the urgent activities.

My suggestions are to:

  • Create a To Do list for every day including weekends and holidays.
  • Refer to the list regularly throughout the day.
  • Prioritize every activity on the list in terms of urgency.
  • Complete activities on the list in order of their urgency.

Plan for Tomorrow, Today

Before you go to bed each night, create a prioritized To Do list for the next day. This step is extremely important because it trains your brain to think about the things you want to accomplish, it teaches your brain to think in terms of priorities, and it ensures you have a reasonable plan for the next day from the moment you get out of bed.

Sleep When You are Tired

Sleeping CatMany people believe that they can simply push forward to complete a task when they are tired. Although this strategy may work, it is certainly not a great time management strategy. When fatigue starts, productivity drops tremendously. What you could achieve in one hour if you were alert may require several hours to complete if you are tired. A general rule is you need at least eight hours of sleep every day. If possible, take a short (one hour or less) nap when you are tired or simply walk away from what you are doing, stretch a little, and think about something else. Working only when alert is a great time management strategy.

Questions

Do you have a written list of activities you want to complete for each day of the week? Does your list contain only SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time sensitive)? Have you prioritized the activities on your list in terms of urgency? Are you looking at your list regularly? Are you planning your day based on your priorities? Are you pushing yourself to complete tasks while you are tired or do you sleep when you are tired?

Scott
Even after brain surgeries, chemotherapy, and radiation treatments to eradicate his brain cancer, Scott continued to work; continued to study; and earned professional certifications from the Project Management Institute, American Society of Quality, and Stanford University School of Professional Development. How were all of these achievements possible at a time when Scott was struggling with the hurdles of brain injury? The answers are in this blog.

6 Responses to “Time Management 101 — Part 1”

  • Damian says:

    i find the articule very helpfull and keeps me guided with working these skills. If I dont use these skills to organize my day I waste my time on things of less importance.

    • Scott says:

      Damian, I am happy to hear that you like the post. If you would like any help with time management or any other subject related to your cognitive therapy, feel free to let me know. I will help how I can.

  • Esther says:

    I find time management very challenging. Blocking out sufficient time during specified days, hours, and minutes to complete desired goals. I end up spending a great deal of time doing things that are urgent, overdue, or soon to be overdue. I do work into the wee hours of the night because I am slow and desire the satisfaction of completion. I do manage to complete some projects; they are usually the ones I can do, prefer to do, and want to do; rather than the things that I have repeatedly failed at in the past.

    • Scott says:

      Esther, although time management is a challenging skill to learn, it is also one of the most important skills. Those who judge us (supervisors, teachers, family, and friends) tend to evaluate us based on the importance of what we accomplish rather than the quantity of what we did. For example, your teacher will not care if you read the next 16 chapters, but you neglected to complete the homework that is due today.

      One of the best ways to demonstrate accomplishments to yourself and others is to create a written time-management plan. Creating a plan is fairly straightforward — include every task you want to accomplish in a to-do list then prioritize all items in the to-do list.

      As I see it, the reason why you are always fighting fires is not because you are slow but because you are too fast. You might consider slowing down, documenting and prioritizing all tasks before you rush to accomplish anything. Then, address the high-priority activities rather than the easiest activities. This strategy will enable you to dedicate your thoughts and actions to the most critical activities while you are focused and alert. You can complete the lower-priority items when you have less energy or you can move lower-priorities to another day.

  • Cheryl says:

    Time management 101 is a great article. I need to be reminded on the process and benefits because I don’t use the system for my day to day things. I do use it when I am planning something big, like our upcoming family Easter dinner and egg hunt. It always serves me well in those cases, therefore I need to use the system in my daily life. Thanks for a good read:)

    • Scott says:

      Cheryl, you made an extremely important point in your comment — all compensation tool are only good if they are helpful to the person who uses them. There is no reason to force yourself to use a compensation tool unless it works for you. I’m not suggesting that people decline to use a tool before they try it, and I am not saying that all tools are perfect out of the box without customization. The fact is that people are most likely to use a tool that works for them. Thank you for sharing your comment.


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**** About The Author ****

During the past 13 years, I have been diagnosed with cancer, brain injury, balance issues, stroke, ataxia, visual impairment, and auditory challenges. I have overcome significant adversity! I can explain how to overcome your challenges. I am a very active Toastmaster and a motivational speaker.