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Introduction to Time Management

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Using your time

We all have the same amount of time each day. But how we use those twenty-four hours is up to us! Using your time to best effect takes a bit of planning - and you need to be realistic about your own personal abilities and capabilities.

Your time-management ability with your peers, and with internal and external customers, will have a direct impact on people’s opinion about your credibility. Why is this? Well, for example, if you say ‘yes’ to everything, then people will initially like you for your ‘can-do attitude’ and willingness to assist. But what if you actually can’t do everything that you promise? Over time, people will come to the conclusion that you can do nothing effectively at all, as you are always overwhelmed.

Defend your time

The first and most important thing to remember about effective time management is that you have to defend your time. Otherwise, others will waste it for you!

To ensure you can use your time effectively, you should be realistic about a number of things before you commit to completing any task. First of all, think about what you can and cannot achieve within a normal day. And also consider your own skills and knowledge. Are they sufficient for you to complete the tasks?

What is your personal commitment to the timeframe? Don’t forget to include the time required for planning, resourcing, completion, and review. And remember to take into account your own need to commute, eat, sleep, and have family time.

When thinking about the time needed to complete a task, you also need to consider the other people on your team. Are they equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge? Will they work faster or slower than you? Do you have to check their work? Do they have to check your work?

And consider the wider work environment. Think about the hidden agendas in the workplace. What’s high priority to you might be low priority to others!

Guidelines for responding to requests

One of the biggest time management challenges you face is effectively dealing with people who make requests on your time. You can use a few useful guidelines to help you respond to these requests:

  • Don’t apologize for saying ‘no’.
  • When replying face-to-face, always use a slow, calm voice when replying to people. If you’re replying via email, use as few words as possible.
  • Before you reply, make sure you understand what you’re being asked. Listen, paraphrase, and empathize with any request. Get to the root of the perceived problem as soon as possible.
  • However you decide to respond, always explain yourself clearly and simply. Repeat your answer several times if necessary, using the same language.
  • Use depersonalized language like 'The situation is...' rather than 'I think...' Avoid turning the situation into a potential personal conflict.
  • Remember, even if you've already said ‘yes’, you can change your mind and then say ‘no’ if your situation changes.

When it comes to time management, people often say “I don’t have the time" or "I can’t find the time.” Now, you could argue that people need to ‘make the time’ for important tasks. However, you have to do more than that. You should instead re-imagine the task in question, and ask yourself, "How important is it for me to complete this task?"

This is where priorities come into play. You may find that you cannot make the time to complete a work task, but you can find the time to go online and spend time checking out hotels and flights for your next vacation. What this shows is that you are not prioritizing the available time in your life. If you need the time, you will find the time. But, to do this, you need to prioritize the task that you need to complete.

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Kevin J Reid

CEO of Personal Skills Training, Senior Coach at Kevin J Reid Coaching, Co-founder and Communications Director of The Counsel.ie, and Lead Collaborator of LeitrimMade.com

  • A consummate and skillful international communications trainer, facilitator, and coach
  • Has over 15 years of learning development experience with individuals, teams, and entire organizations
  • Has facilitated communications workshops and training across numerous sectors in Ireland, the UK, Europe, America, and Africa

The following pieces of content from the Digital Marketing Institute's Membership Library have been chosen to offer additional material that you might find interesting or insightful.

You can find more information and content like this on the Digital Marketing Institute's Membership Library

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    Personal Skills
    Kevin J Reid
    Skills Expert

    When it comes to improving your personal skills in the workplace, four essential skills stand out: the ability to be more productive at work; the ability to adapt to a changing work environment; the ability to manage your time effectively; and the ability to deal with setbacks. This module focuses on enhancing your skills in these four critical areas.

    When it comes to productivity, you will learn about the difference between being busy and being productive, and techniques you can use to increase your output and to deal with unwelcome distractions and interruptions.

    The lesson on adaptability focuses on how to cultivate an adaptable mind-set at work, and how to find alternative – and innovative – solutions to problems by using tactics like brainstorming and mind-mapping.

    The time-management lesson explains how to prioritize tasks and set goals, how to save and create time, and how to eliminate personal time stealers such as excessively viewing email or attending too many meetings.

    The module concludes with a lesson on how to respond to setbacks in the workplace. You will discover the importance of demonstrating resilience in the face of adversity, and how to turn setbacks into valuable learning opportunities.