An old friend of mine once said to me, “There’s a myth that’s going around these days, the myth says: If you can manage your time, you can do anything!”. Four years from hearing this advice, I don’t believe it’s a myth anymore.
We all hear about time management and it’s importance, and people shout at us from time to time that we should time manage properly, but rarely do we hear a concise methodology of how to time manage!
In order to understand how to time manage, you firstly need to understand what time management is about. Time management is not about managing your time, because technically, you cannot manage something you have no control over! (Can you stop, start time?!) – Time management is simply managing yourself in a way that makes use of the time sphere we’re in. So how exactly do we that?
Peter Drucker, author of the famous book “The Effective Executive” (Highly recommended reading)), recommends three steps to managing your time, and he actually calls the chapter that deals with this: “Know thy time”:
- Analyze your time.
- Cut back unproductive demands.
- Aim to complete tasks in large chunks of time.
So let’s get into more details of how to follow the above three steps (adding the usual ProductiveMuslim Islamic twist to it ;)).
Analyze your time:
Record your time over a course of at least a week. I’ll be honest here, it’ll take a strong stomach to realise how much time we waste in a course of a week. But being truthful to oneself is the first step to remedy. There are 2 ways to record your time:
- Keep a diary with you recording what you do each hour
- Ask your friend/flat-mate/spouse to analyze your time, (as we tend to be nice to ourselves when we record our own time, and end up ‘cheating’)
Cut back unproductive demands:
Hopefully, after recording our time, a sad realization would dawn upon us, and that is, there’s a lot we can cut down from. e.g. do we really need to spend that hour in the cafe in the morning, or is it just better to make some coffee at home and read e-mails at the same time? Do we really need to spend 2 hour everyday just flicking through TV channels or internet sites or can we cut down from that time? (Note: please please don’t cut back from time for Allah! Some people in order to ‘save’ time, will not go to the mosque to pray for example, that’s not an unproductive demand to cut down on, that’s an essential demand which we better keep, so please don’t touch the religious stuff, we’re already guilty of not giving enough time to them, let’s not use this excuse to make it worse!
Aim to complete tasks in large chunks of time:
Isn’t it annoying when you are working on something so hard and you got really into it (sometimes called being in ‘The Zone’) to be interrupted by a phone call or an e-mail alert or text?! This third tip basically says that you should try to block time off in large chunks of time, (some people suggest that 90 minutes is the maximum they can concentrate at one time, but that’s 90 minutes of uninterrupted time). This technique will help you achieve much more by doing less, simply because you’re more focused at one task at a time. Doing one task in one hour, will end up taking you 4 hours if you are interrupted every 10-15 minutes. To help you block your time, refer to our Daily Taskinator.