Learning Time Management Skills With A Twist!

Learning time management skills involves more than putting together project plans, schedules and daily or weekly "to do" lists. In this article I discuss my realization that if I wanted to be good at managing my time in my personal and professional life, I needed to incorporate some of the wider "life management" techniques into my time management repertoire.

I believe that in order to be truly productive, those methods you usually relegate for organizing your life such as sorting out clutter, organizing your home and taking care of yourself need to be combined with traditional time management skills .

So It's More Than To Do Lists?

learning time management is more than a to-do list

Yes, my suggested approach is to go further than prioritisting and to-do lists.

Confession time - although I'm advocating for a shift from the traditional time management techniques to wider life management techniques, I do love those "to do" lists. I always feel so efficient - I love ticking the boxes and feeling proud of myself for achieving and completing tasks. Sometimes I put stuff on my list that I know I'm going to be able to tick off in 5 minutes and worse, sometimes I put stuff on my list that I've already done JUST so I can tick it off!! Come on, don't judge me - I'm sure that some of you have done this once or twice in your life!

Don't get me wrong, when I say that learning time management skills involves more than this, I still think these lists have their part to play in managing time effectively but they need to be used in conjunction with other life management techniques.

How Did I Learn This?

At one stage in my career, my manager went through a spate of implementing lots of time management workshops for our team. Co-incidentally, I was completing an in-house management programme (which was heavy on the time management essentials) and at nights I was researching information to help me sort out my messy house.

After a couple of months, I was implementing the techniques I had learnt from the courses and was trying to keep my desk tidy and organized so that I could develop the habit of being tidy. Surprisingly, I started to become much more productive in my job and even better, I started to feel like I was in control of both my workload and my homelife.

After some thinking about it, I realized that although I was scheduling my day better, writing my lists and project planning my projects and these were helping, it was also the additional techniques I had learnt that were giving me an edge.

Simple techniques like having a tidy desk - this meant I wasn't wasting time looking for files. Likewise, organizing my paper in-tray - this meant I didn't have to look for through a whole bunch of paper for one document. These two techniques, amazingly, were actually freeing up my time.

Need further clarification? Read on and I'll show you what I mean.

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Time Management & Life Management - An Example

Someitmes the best way to get my meaning across is to show you what worked for me.

Meetings!! I always tried to get out of them but if I really had to go then my goal was always to ensure it wasn't a waste of my time.

In order for me to achieve this, the following factors had to be met.
  • The meeting had to start on time (or I had to at least be there on time).
  • The right documents (agenda & minutes of last meeting) had to be in my hand
  • I'd have to have pre-read the information we would be discussing in that meeting so I could contribute to the outcome.
  • I had to know where to find the file holding the documents
So how did my suggested combination of time management and life management skills achieve this? Well, I made sure that:

  • I scheduled my time - left enough time between meetings to arrive early for the next one
  • Preparation time had been set aside in my calendar to pre-read the documents we would be discussing
  • I employed an efficient system for dealing with incoming paper (agendas etc) to ensure that this stuff would get filed straight away into the correct place.
  • I had an organized and tidy desk so I knew where that file was located on my desk.

What does this mean for Learning Time Management Skills?

Well, what my experiences showed me was that if we are thinking about learning time management skills we need to widen the scope from the traditional techniques. I think scheduling and prioritizing are very important (and we will cover these in other articles) but we also need to focus on the life management skills like organizing and reducing clutter because these too help us to manage ourselves and free up our time - and surely, that is what we all want after all! What exactly did I do? Well keep reading, click on the links on the nav bar or above (when I get them up) and you'll find out!

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