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#BTColumn – Time Management is Life Management

by Barbados Today
6 min read

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the author(s) do not represent the official position of Barbados TODAY. By Maya Kellman, Attorney-at-Law and Professor Dwayne Devonish

We live in a world with more currency than ever before. Whether it is the United States dollar, Sterling, Yen and most recently, tokens and cryptocurrency. However, what is the most valuable currency? Without a second thought, the answer that comes to mind is time – it can be neither created nor destroyed. It can be neither hoarded nor purchased back.

As an attorney who practises in the trial/litigation space, I see daily the direct correlation between time management and productivity. Failures to effectively engage in calendar management, delegate tasks and streamline processes can lead to missed timelines, sanctions and even unexpected constitutional motions being filed. For many business leaders, creatives and entrepreneurs, these issues are nuanced within their respective fields, but the ineluctable question remains – how are we spending our most valuable resource? 

In light of this context, we will succinctly explore the nature of time management skills, explain the importance of time management and advance a list of key strategies that can be employed to improve your organisational and personal life goals.

Time management skills defined

Time management is commonly used in both the professional and personal settings – whether it be in performance reviews or during a conversation with a loved one. However, it is a concept most people cannot readily define. A time management skill is any process or method that helps you save time and be more efficient in a given circumstance or situation. In a real and practical sense, it can include goal setting, planning, prioritising, efficiently using your calendar, creating routines, decision-making and delegating. It is all about learning to be proactive with your time instead of being reactive.

Further to its definition, the importance of mastering time management skills cannot be overemphasised. We have highlighted some useful tips that showcase the importance of practising effective time management. These include:

Reducing stress and enhancing wellness: Strong time management skills allow you to take control of your time, increase your energy and overall productivity in all your tasks. Prioritising your most important work daily means making the deliberate decision to prioritise your mental health and overall wellness. Invariably, these habits will reduce stress levels and burnout as you will be laser-focussed on the relevant areas of both your professional and personal lives;

Employing better life-work balance: Lack of time management skills can lead to internal stress as work begins to cut into your personal lives, either because of staying at work constantly to play catch up on tasks that have fallen behind or worrying about work during off time. However, managing your time successfully can lead to better life-work balance. This is seen through the creation of healthy boundaries for both work and personal commitments;

Engaging stronger negotiation skills: Knowing what your time is worth equips you with the confidence to negotiate professional service rates and contracts, ensuring you receive fair compensation for your work and time.

 Allowing fewer distractions – Developing and honing effective time management skills increase your focus and concentration on the most important and relevant tasks. Time management requires discipline and self-control to stick to predetermined schedules and avoid distractions. Developing these skills helps individuals stay on track and resist the urge to deviate from planned activities. Time management encourages individuals to identify and eliminate non-productive activities that consume valuable time. This may involve reducing excessive social media use, limiting unnecessary meetings, or delegating tasks that can be handled by others.


Strategies to improve time management skills

We will now advance a non-exhaustive list of strategies to improve your time management skills:

Lay the foundation for effective time management – Prioritising and delegating appropriate times for maintaining a healthy diet, exercising regularly and getting adequate sleep will aid in improving greater focus and concentration. Laying a successful foundation can appear like organising goals into necessary tasks, building your own trusted system, recognising the tasks you do on a regular basis and making room for new projects or tasks that must be done. Creating an environment where wellness is consistently prioritised can aid in improving efficiency throughout the day.

Audit your current time management practices: In the spirit of being committed to practising good time management, the first step is awareness. This allows us to first audit how we spend our days, weeks and months. How much time is spent fully focused on a task? What are you doing that could be delegated? How often do you get caught up with unrelated conversations with team members? These are some of the thought-provoking questions that must be considered when conducting ‘a time audit’ and seeing how you can change or improve your focus for full optimisation in completing tasks.

Remove distractions – Given the advancement of technological tools, comes the obsession of constantly checking social media feeds to always feel “connected” by the hottest trend or topic. However, solid time management demands that the environment created should be in a healthy and organised manner that is tailored to an individual’s style. With that being said, determine if you love music while you work or complete silence; or working from a cubicle or at your home office to ensure you create the ‘right’ environment to execute tasks efficiently.

Prioritising urgency and importance – An important time management strategy involves categorising tasks based on their urgency and importance. ‘Urgent and important’ tasks require immediate attention and have significant consequences if neglected. ‘Non-urgent but important’ tasks contribute to long-term goals and personal growth. ‘Non-important but urgent’ tasks often distract and divert attention from more meaningful work. Lastly, not important and non-urgent tasks are trivial and can be avoided or delegated. By effectively organising tasks across these four categories, individuals can focus on what truly matters.

Self-care – As human beings, we all get overwhelmed and worn at times. Take a break to spend time with loved ones, learn a new skill or engage in a ‘passion project’. Sometimes all we need is a moment of clarity and solitude to clear our overworked minds and refuel our bodies.

The busy life of the overly-competitive and dynamic business world pulls us in all directions. However, prioritising and committing to techniques and strategies that assist with meeting personal and professional goals in a balanced way will yield greater dividends in overall time management practice. Above all else, time management is truly life management and balancing both personal and professional elements allow for the greatest success in each.

Maya Kellman, Attorney-at-Law 

Professor Dwayne Devonish, Professor of Management and Organisational Behaviour, UWI ]]>

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