Thursday, March 28, 2013

Elements of Effective Time Management Part I

Time goes by at the same rate no matter what one does. One can not speed it up or slow it down. Unlike the other resources that one manages, there is no way to control time. The best one can do is take charge of oneself in the framework of time, investing oneself in those things that matter most in one’s life.
Effective time management requires reducing the impact of the time stealers and increasing the effectiveness of a manager in getting the things done that need to be done. The following are the important elements that combine to enable a manager eliminate distractions, interruptions and inefficiencies in the work process to make the most of time management.

A. Evaluating How Time is Used
The first step of effective time management is identifying how a manager is using his time. This can be done by activity time log to managing time better is to find out how managers are currently spending their time. Keeping a time log is a very effective way to do this.

Through an activity time log, managers can make a list of the activities or tasks that they spend time on. The very act of measuring is often enough to raise their unconscious habits into their consciousness, where they then have a chance to scrutinize and change them.

Time Log requires that managers track all the tasks – including the routine tasks such as commuting, reading a newspaper, eating and attending telephone etc. - in a systematic way and note the successive sequence from the start, through the end of the day.

1. Using the daily log on the worksheet, record your activities for a 24-hour period.
2. Include the start and end times for each activity.
3. If more space is needed, continue keeping the log on the back or on another sheet of paper.

Based on the analysis of Activity Time Log over some period, it is possible for managers to calculate their daily efficiency ratio. Daily efficiency ratio is the amount of time spent by managers on the work divided by the total amount of time they spent in the office.

Efficiency Ratio = (Time Doing “Real Work”) / (Time Spent “At Work”)

Assuming that managers have done only 15 hours of actual productive time in a week (60 hrs), the Daily Efficiency Ratio of a manager is only 25% of the time.

B. Goal-Setting
Why is goal-setting so important in time management? From the time management perspective, a person’s life is a sequence of big and small choices and decisions. It is those choices that a person really manages, not the flow of time. A key difference between successful and unsuccessful managers is the quality and practicality of the goals they set for themselves. Goals state clearly the measurable and specific results to be accomplished by the managers and the timeframe to attain them.

Goal-setting is the wisdom that comes from practical experience that helps managers direct their conscious and subconscious decisions towards success. The process of setting goals helps managers choose where they want to go in personal and professional life. By being aware of precisely what they want to achieve, they know the efforts required for it. Goals help in monitoring the day to day activities and ensure the activities are progressing in the right direction. There are two types of goals managers can set for themselves – rational goals and directional goals. Rational goals are specific, short-time goals focusing on the questions-

• What do I want to accomplish?
• Why am I doing this task?
• Who are all involved in the task?
• What are the expected outcomes of this task?
• When can this task be expected to be completed?

Directional goals (also known as domain planning) are long-term goals with no predictable outcomes, focusing on the question - What do I want to accomplish? To stay focused, managers should aim and visualize these goals. They should identify possible quarters from where they can pool up the support and required resources needed to put together and accomplish those goals.