I sang along happily with an old favourite by John Rowles on the radio:

” Mm mm mm mm ….
If I only had time, only time
So much to do
If I only had time, if I only had time
Dreams to pursue
If I only had time, they’d be mine”

(Songwriters: P Delanoe, Jack Fishman, Michel Fugain)

I wondered if you ever wish that you would have more time? Can you confidently decide on what needs to be done first or don’t you know where to start? Do you complete one task at a time or in a panicky state, do a little bit of everything, finishing nothing.

Charles Bruxton once said:”You will never “find” time for anything. If you want time, you must make it.”

Is there such a thing as finding time, making time or managing time? Are your hours just flying by? Most time management programmes give advice on prioritising, avoiding procrastination and achieving balance. Some indicate that one should increase productivity, while others tell you to simplify – but why is all this advice so hard to follow?  It is important to acknowledge the fact that we are all unique and function in different ways at different times and at different energy levels to be able to use our time effectively.

Where to begin?

To become a better time manager, you need to know who you are, considering your likes, dislikes, needs and desires. Assess yourself in order to discover who you are and what is of importance in your life. Is it quality time with family and friends or success in business that you are looking for? What dreams do you want to pursue? Make your dreams or your destinations tangible by writing them down. Establish why they are important to you? This will motivate you to work towards reaching them one at a time. Look at the following table as example:

Dream /Life Goal (What?) Reason (Why?) Tasks (How?) Choose deadline (When?)
PhysicalGoalGood health I’ll be HealthierHave more funHave more energy

Get things done

See a dieticianEat healthy foodsExercises for back

Walk for life

Drink water

Immediate (0-12 months)Short term (1-5 years)Medium term (5-10 years)

Long term (10+ years)

Download My Dreams Chart.

Develop your dreams / life goals

You can achieve almost anything you want.  Be clear on what you want in each life category, i.e. work, family, friends, spirituality, physical, mental, self. These long term goals give meaning, balance and direction to your life.

Create baby steps or tasks, to realise your dreams. Determine when you need to achieve each goal by and write the dates next to them. Order does not matter at this stage.

Set up your weekly planner with the activities needed for you to achieve your goal in each category. This will make you understand how each activity or task fits into the bigger picture and makes it easier to do.

Check whether your life is in balance by highlighting the activities for each life category in a different colour and adjust your time allocation to fit into your daily schedule.

How long will it take?

Most people have To-do lists which are mostly just about what needs to be done and no thought goes into how long it will take.

The first step to good time management is estimating time for tasks.

There are a 168 hours a week. Keep a time map for two weeks of everything you do. Tie each task back to your life category. Now you’ll have a good idea where you spent your time and how time is wasted. If there is too much of one colour you’ll notice where too much time is spent. You can correct imbalances in the use of your time for the different categories and not over schedule your days. Master this skill and you’ll be able to schedule your time more realistically.

Now you can effectively work in your planner as you know exactly how long each task takes. Calculating how long things take is a skill anyone can master, be realistic, things take as long as they take. If you miscalculate time you’ll take on more than you can handle. Different people take different time on tasks because of skill level, level of concentration and energy level. Factor in your energy levels and preferences about pace and interruptions. Adjust your schedule accordingly.

A good time manager will always factor in hidden time like travel, time to set up, clean-up time, interruptions and unexpected problem time.

See time is a container and anything you put into your day should be meaningful, important and rewarding. This will motivate you to find shortcuts for routine tasks, delegating and diplomatically saying no.

Time management is the ultimate self improvement. It is the foundation that will enable you to achieve your goals in every aspect of your live and give you the time for the things that really matter. I trust that this will put you on the path of pursuing your dreams and making them yours.

Heidi Meyer

Professional organiser

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