Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed because of all the business- and personal tasks you have to accomplish during the day, even though there is not even enough time to address half of them? I certainly was in such situations, many times in my life. The most severe situation I can remember of arose when I took over a position of an employee that went on maternity leave and therefore had been overcharged for months and left me a lot of work that wasn’t completed. Matters were complicated further by the fact that it was a department of my company with a completely different specialty and a lot of new tasks and duties I was unfamiliar with. My predecessor left me seven piles of files spread all around the office and – as I was very young – I really became distraught when I thought that I was from now on responsible not only to discharge the overdue work but also complete the daily work that was arising on a day-to-day basis. View days later I came to the decision to reduce my lunch time to 15 minutes and work up to 10 hours daily in order to reduce the chaos that the previous employee had left me. The spare leisure time I had in this phase was spent with recreational purposes or exercising in the gym, but I didn’t watch TV for hours. I came to think of a sophisticated time management that helped me to get rid of those piles of files in no time!
In the following, I will present you a holistic time management concept that allows you to reconsider daily routines according to their importance, which shall finally help you to reduce stress and manage your time more efficient.
Holistic Time Management
I. Is your sleep effective?
A misconception of many people is that prolonged sleep can compensate huge tiredness. So, a lot of us sleep even during the week 9 hours or more – not to mention the 10-11 hour “sleep sessions” at the weekend – which is not only clearly too much but also decreases the time you have left for the rest of the day. I had colleagues that went to bed as early as nine o’clock, because of feeling so exhausted during the day. But instead of having a recreative sleep they lay awake in bed for hours – which closed a vicious circle, as it didn’t help them to get rid of their tiredness at all. Experts are recommending varieties of healthy sleeping durations, but it is always about 7 to 8 hours. Some even advise to only sleep 6 hours daily, which definitely wouldn’t be enough for me personally. It is important that you find the most effective sleeping time that allows you to immediately fall asleep when going to bed waking up in the next morning full of energy. Say for example you shorten your non-effective 9-hour sleep to seven hours you win two hours daily that you can invest to get all your tasks done during the day.
In general, I would say that it doesn’t really matter if you are a late or an early riser, as long as you stick to the system that fits your biorhythm best. I, for example, am a late riser and have problems with my biorhythm when I’m trying to pressure myself into an early-rising-rhythm. Nevertheless, it is very important that you take care and notice the signals your body sends you and to change your waking habits and your sleeping duration. Lack of sleep can have negative effects on your health.
II. Time management at the office
In order to cope with all the tasks in our professional life, it is necessary to develop effective time management techniques. An effective time management system ranges from seemingly simple things, such as having a well-assorted table that helps you not to get distracted by having to spend lots of time searching for files, folders and other things in a mess, up the time management technique of the organizing, prioritizing and elimination of tasks. These are the – what I would call – basics of time management and are discussed in the two articles I have linked to in the above. The second article I linked to shows you exactly why it is not effective to try to fulfill all upcoming tasks as quickly as possible but to prioritize each task and focus on only the most important ones, during times of stress and high workload.
Invest a few minutes for scheduling. I highly recommend taking some time in the morning (up to ten minutes) to plan the upcoming business day. When planning your daily schedule it is important to separate important task from less significant responsibilities. Set yourself priorities! Likewise, you could also divide your work according to its maturity, whether it has to be done immediately or does not hurry and can be addressed later on. You may, for instance, implement a scoring system based on these two criteria (very important and urgent, unimportant and no need to hurry). This helps you to be able to tell immediately whether a task can be put aside to have more time remaining for important things. Once you finished all your important work you can concentrate on those things with minor importance.
It is advisable to concentrate on the most important tasks (if possible) in the morning hours during seven to ten o’clock am, because your physiological willingness to perform is on an absolute climax during this time. You should really avoid important tasks between one and three o’clock pm. During this time span, you will have reached the lowest point of your concentration of the working day. I realize of course that it is inevitable to carry out important duties and responsibilities during your mid-afternoon energy slump. You can counteract fatigue and listlessness by inhaling fresh air and physical exercise.
III. Time management in everyday life
In order to become aware of the amount of time you spend for random – or even time consumptive – activities, I would like you to take some time and to think about the amounts of time you spend daily with the following activities:
- Computer (games, the internet, etc.)
- News (Sports, celebrities, politics, etc.)
- Reading books, newspapers, magazines
- Relaxing / daydreaming
- Telephoning, Chatting
- Listening to music/radio
Did you know that the average American watches on average more than 6 hours TV, daily? These are some really impressive numbers and most might say, “I don’t watch TV for 6 hours every day,” which is quite correct. But when considering that most watch television while having breakfast and dinner, spend an entire weekend to watch the full series of their favorite soap or go to bed with the late night news, it easily sums up to 6+ hours – on average. Then, think about the time you spend chatting with friends, surfing the internet or watching videos on YouTube, which further increases the amount of time you could use more effective.
The first rule of the concept of holistic time management:
A) Avoid time-consumptive activities:
The first rule asks you to renounce (or at least reduce the consumption of) activities like watching television, playing computer, surfing the internet (without no aim), seeking for news about the life of celebrities, naps and excessive relaxation in your daily routines.
I am well aware that it won’t be easy to renounce on all these things completely, especially in the beginning. Therefore I recommend you to implement this concept step-by-step by reducing these activities every week a little bit more.
B) Taking advantage of the newly gained time:
Second rule. By renouncing more and more unhelpful activities you will gain more and more time you can spend to implement and effectively integrate the concept of holistic learning into your daily routine.
For example, if you waive your favorite series on TV you have some more time to do something purposeful like studying a little bit more or developing another skill that could help you to become successful.