Feb 18, 2009

Seven Sins of Time Management

Another day goes by and you didn't get to the gym, finish the report, complete your tax return, or organize the holiday. There's too much to do and so many things eat away at your time. Your vices may not be deadly, but they slow you down. You won't be smothered in brimstone or fire, or force-fed rats, toads and snakes for your sins, but you will be running around like a headless chicken. Learn to conquer your foibles and make more of your time. Here are seven sins that lead to wasted time and how to avoid them.

Vanity - Pride comes before a fall and that won't make you look very good.

All that time spent competing for the spotlight, dressing up yourself and your work, and pooh-poohing the efforts of others because only you can do it right helps you create an impression ... but is it of substance or moonshine? The time you spend telling people what you're doing, adding bells and whistles to a report, and re-doing others' work because they didn't do it quite right, would be much better spent concentrating on adding quality and perfection to content rather than packaging. What key things must you do to fulfill your role? If you don't know, then find out, do them, keep doing them, and stop talking about it. Do the right things right and your results will speak for themselves.

Greed - What you keep for yourself, you'll pay for in time.

The more you do yourself, the less others have. Your colleagues want fulfillment too. It's common to carry over work from a previous position or occupation into a new role, just to keep your hand in. But what about the hands and minds of those working with you? You know you should delegate and share the load, so why don't you? Either you don't trust your teammates or you're trying to fill your time to avoid your real tasks. If you don't let others try things you mastered long ago, they'll never learn, you'll never learn to trust them, so you'll continue to interfere. Do everyone a favor and start working as a team. Leave other's work to them and leave at a decent time tonight.

Envy - You want what's not yours to have, so don't waste time stressing over it.

The promotion goes to that young dude who's still wet behind the ears. It's just not fair, is it? Maybe it is fair. What does that green-eyed monster lead you to do or not do? Withhold co-operation, maybe? Ignore requests? Work to rule or do more than everyone else? Keep knowledge and information to yourself? Spend time day dreaming or net searching for what could be, if only? Focusing on what's not happened just adds stress to your life. Life is a bowl of cherries. Ignore the pips, enjoy the sweetness and you'll get through more in less time with your just desserts.

Gluttony - You want more time, but let's face it, there's a set number of hours in a day.

You need more time to finish the report, prepare the presentation, talk the customer into buying, make the decision. The more time you have the more you want. Why is that? It's likely you face one of several challenges. You lack some skills, you procrastinate, or you don't know when to stop. The remedies are simple. Spend time mastering the skill you lack- learning the skill will take a lot less time than working around your ignorance! Get down to it. It may feel good to have a cleared email box, to have tidied your desk, or to complete any of your other minor tasks. But these are simple and aren't high priority. Concentrate on things you MUST do, not what are easy to do and on the face of it look like a lot. Get into the habit of scheduling time for your important tasks. You keep your appointment for the dentist, so keep your appointment for working on the marketing plan. This also helps if you suffer from not knowing when to stop. Set aside a time to achieve a task and stick to it. Remember the 80/20 rule. Only 20% of what you do really matters. Focus on these things and achieve 80% of your results. Spend 80% of your time on the 20% that matters and you'll be terrific.

Sloth - All that activity at night makes you sleep all day.

Ever wondered why you can't be bothered, can't get motivated, keep having coffee breaks and end up working into the wee small hours? You're in a vicious cycle of late night working, lack of sleep, weariness, slow production, daytime disappearing down a sleepy hollow, leading to another late night, and on, and on. Get out of it. Focus on the cost of your late nights and daytime lethargy. What's it going to feel like if you continue like this? Feel it badly. Feel it hurt. Then change it. Move away from what you don't want to what you do want. Focus on the pleasure of leaving work on time, spending time with friends or family, taking in a movie, getting to the gym. Imagine awakening fresh and ready for the day. Think of all the good reasons why this lifestyle makes sense. You'll be motivated to do it. Think you can't do it? Then you'll be right. Think you can do it? You couldn't be more right.

Lust - That craving for power, success or recognition blinds you to what you really love doing.

The temptation to keep on lusting after something can become a habit your body no longer enjoys. Are you too busy making a life you thought you wanted rather than getting a life? It's common to demand more of yourself, to want more out of life and to chase the masses of opportunities that abound. But is the future rosy if it consists of working long hours, foregoing holidays, living to work? What don't you want in your current life? Write down five things you can do without then toss them away. What one thing must you really have? Are you spending time getting it? If not, stop what you're doing and make time to go for what matters.

Anger - Stamp it out.

It won't fix anything, it won't do any good, and it may make things a whole lot worse. Dealing with difficult people or situations can make you seethe and lose your cool. You know it's not productive to get into an argument with the bank clerk, or take a hammer to your computer. Take control of your moods. You can choose how to react to a situation. Do you want revenge? No need to waste your time. What goes around comes around, so let Father Time, not your time, take a misdoer to task. Anger will distract you from what's important. Concentrate on the present and future, learn from the past and move onwards and upwards.a

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