Our everyday-time stresses are usually caused by having too much work to do in a given amount of time, or by using available time ineffectively. One critical aspect of effective time management is the discipline of analyzing how we utilize our time.
Below are a few practical questions to help reflect on how we spent our days.
- Did I start my day with a clear plan on how I would use my time during the day? Did I prepare a to-do list and assign priorities to tasks on the list? Did this plan give me a sense of control over my time?
- Did I work on the most important tasks at times when I tend to be most focused and productive?
- Did I concentrate on my priorities? Did I feel rushed? How much unplanned time did I spend on pressing problems that demanded my immediate attention or added little value in the context of my goals?
- Did I examine my schedule and priorities before committing to new assignments?
- Was I effective with the use of my time or was I just efficient in the tasks I completed? Did I do the right things to meet my organization’s, team’s and personal goals?
- How will my accomplishments help me progress towards my short-term and long-term goals?
- Did I delegate responsibilities and tasks well? Did I use my associates (administrative assistants, subordinates, subject experts, and other resources) effectively?
- How well did I use my buffer-times: time when waiting for the dentist, time during the train-commute to work, etc.?
- What interruptions and time-wasters did I encounter? Did I attend unimportant meetings or get non-critical telephone calls and email? How could I have avoided these time-intrusions?
- Did I spend too much time deliberating over minor decisions?
- Did I spend enough time with family and friends? Did I spend enough time on my fitness, leisure and spiritual activities?
- Did I accomplish everything I had hoped to accomplish? How many tasks do I carry forward to tomorrow’s to-do list?
- Did I complete a list of things to do for tomorrow and assign priorities to them? Did I leave my workplace, desk and other personal spaces organized?
Ask these questions at the end of each day. Seek what you can learn from the experience of the day and what you can do to make every next day better than the previous day.