How to get the most out of your time

I was really excited to give a presentation on time management to Middlesex University Dubai students this week. Managing the reading assignments, course work and holding a full-time job is a true challenge. No wonder they wanted to learn how to maximise the 24 hours we all have available.

This presentation came at the righttime. My own week has been a crazy busy and crazy good week for me. My team at work is entering its hot period and there’s still so much to prepare. Sometimes, I wish I could work more but that’d be at the cost of my private life. And I love my private life.

Over the last few days, I helped my neighbour prepare for her job assessment. Hearing how well she did was a fabulous reward for the time we worked on various excel spreadsheets. A client is looking for some additional help on one of his organising projects and this morning, Tony Buzan presented his mind mapping methodology at a breakfast meeting. After tomorrow’s Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon, well, 10k for us, I’ll call the spot on the couch to crash.

I’m sure you’ve jam packed weeks. Maybe not just once in a while but for you, it may have become a regular occurrence. How’re you coping with the constant adrenaline rush? And the feeling of stress? While I don’t believe you can have it all like SJP showed in the movie, how come some people seem to manage their maxed out calendars better than others.

They all are clear about what they want and what’s important to them.

What’s your goal?

Before you start the week, day or an activity, ask yourself what you’re planning to get out of it. We all have short-term tasks to complete (think about cooking dinner), there are also medium and long-term goals. Whether this is pursuing an MBA or preparing for retirement, lay out your objective in a SMART way. SMART goals are defined by being:

  • Specific (e.g. complete the MBA at my local university)
  • Measureable (e.g. obtain a pass grade)
  • Attainable (yes, I’ve already an undergrad degree)
  • Realistic (it may be challenging to combine it with my full-time job and looking after my family)
  • Time bound (e.g. by summer of 2017)

Who steals your time?

Interruptions are part of our daily life. When trying to concentrate on a task, eliminate any distributions as much as possible. Even if the question only takes 30 seconds, it will take you 2 minutes to get back into your activity.

Interruptions log

Keep this interruptions log for a week. Could these questions, calls, emails or meetings been avoided? Often, colleagues don’t realise the difference between urgent and important. Set up a team meeting where you together define the criteria for these.

What’s your priority?

If you want to find out what’s important to someone, check their calendar and receipts. Taking this statement one step further, if you don’t schedule time for it, it won’t get done.

Write down all your projects and tasks and then rank. The most urgent and important one would be marked 1 and your least important and least urgent 25 (or whatever number you finish with). As you look at your daily plan, put your number 1 marked task at the top, then the one ranked 2, then 3 and so. Fold the page and hide all tasks, except activity number 1. Work on that one. When you’re finished with it, uncover your task marked 2.

How do you organise your work?

Some people say they need the adrenalin rush and the pressure when working on a project last minute. Pulling an all-nighter may be okay once in a while, not on a regular basis. If you know of a deadline, work backwards from that date until today. Break down the project into smaller parts. Set dates to complete them to ensure steady progress. This will help you achieve quality results without being frantic and anxious 2 hours before it’s due.

Learn to say “No”

As you’re learning what’s important to you and what you want to make time for, it also means letting go of other activities. Watching TV as relaxing as it may be at times can also be a great time bandit. When you’re signing up for a new work project or agree to accompany a friend to a new arts class, it may take you away from your priorities. Balance is key. To strike that, you may have to say “No” to helping your colleague a 5th time on the same question or going out for a 3rd time in a row.

How are you managing your time every day, week or month? What steps have you taken to optimise your available time? If you’re still stressed or rushing from appointment to appointment and like to get in control of your commitments, contact me. I’d love to work with you and help you increase your productivity.

Until next time,



One thought on “How to get the most out of your time

  1. Thank you Agni. I will keep all this in mind and I hope I can manage my priorities much better.
    Take care

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