People that have known me for a number of years often ask me how I manage to do all the things I am doing, so well. I am not blowing my own trumpet when I write this, but anyone who knows me fairly well, will agree that I tend to get quite busy with various activities. For that reason, I felt that maybe I should share how I approach such activities, so that those reading this may try to replicate at least some of those, and hopefully will benefit from my experience. I have noticed that I can do multiple things around the same time, and appear to be getting successful at those. There is a name for this- MULTITASKING. Some think it’s acquired, some feel it’s learned, others think it’s genetic, and points of view vary.
However, I tend to think that a large part of it has to do with your own ability, which is acquired over time. I wasn’t always like this- in fact, my parents still have this opinion of me as being bit lazy ;-) (Well, maybe in the last few years that opinion has gradually regressed I hope!)- But as I became more comfortable with my surroundings and my work habits, my ability to multi-task increased.
Firstly, you have to prioritize what is most important, and then second more important, third, and so forth, in terms of what you want to do. Automatically, this means you do not INITIATE any activity that does not hold priority for you. In other words, do not start something you do not intend to finish. This is exactly what I do in my life. I take up a task only and only if I know I can take it to some level of completion. If I am doing something but realize that it is no longer in my priority list, I still take that task to completion but then I do not pursue it further as a new activity until I have time for it. However, if something else is important to me, I make sure I give it some percentage of my time.
Secondly, work in days and hours, not in weeks and months. If you are working on a project, it is good to plan every day as compared to every week. Therefore, a diary (physical or virtual) is always very handy. I do that physically, i.e., I keep a diary on which I write daily events. It is much more efficient to think along what you wish to achieve in 10 days time, as compared to thinking that you have two weeks to achieve it. When you think like that, suddenly you will realize that you can work in terms of hours and even minutes, thereby allowing you to multitask!
Getting back to multitasking, how can one do it? My experience is that thinking in hours and days greatly enhances this ability.
For example, there are 24 hours in a day. For sleep and related routine, 8 hours. I work 8 hours. I spend roughly 4 hours quality time with family. That leaves me with 4 hours for other stuff that I want to do. In a week, that adds up to 28 hours, and in a month, 840 hours!
If you think about it, that is a lot of time to do various things. That can include extra meetings, follow a hobby, catch a few good movies, exercise, go on holidays, and so many other activities. For a student, similar thinking can enable you to plan everything that you want to do (well, within limits!) in a week or in a month, if you plan accordingly.
Thirdly, and this may come as a surprise to many- is that you have to give time to yourself to RELAX also. How? You may ask, when just a paragraph ago, I mentioned about planning in hours and days. The answer to that is, if you manage your time exactly as I have mentioned above, you will be surprised to find the time every day, for things that relax you- listen to music, watch some TV, read a book, talk to friends, go for a walk, bicycle. However, that comes with practice. If you learn to manage time very well, all of a sudden you will find more and more time for relaxing due to your increased efficiency of carrying out your required activities.
Lastly, mental discipline is something that keeps me grounded, and keeps me on top of the activities I am involved with. The ideas I shared in the previous few paragraphs mean nothing, if I don’t stick to my plan. So, if I don’t think in hours and days, or if I don’t prioritize my activities, or if I do not let myself relax, then there is simply no way I can do all the things I really want to do.
So, guess how I managed to write this article for you all to read? Well, I took it out of my relaxing moment, as sharing this information is relaxing me. Since I am writing my own experience, it doesn’t require too much thought, and is easy to type on my keyboard. In a few minutes, this article will be finished, I will grab a cup of tea or coffee and focus on my actual work- that of a scientist who has to write research proposals and reports besides checking out what is going on in my laboratory! Oh, that, at the same time as I update myself with what all is being discussed in Tweeter and Facebook. I also have a stage production coming up very soon in which I have a small role. Not to forget to cycle back home after work as part of my exercise.
Good luck with time management!
The Way I do it
Kanchan Goth Rana
I don’t particularly use any time management tools to manage my time better. However, there are some techniques that I follow, like using time management clock in my cell phone so that it reminds me of my to-do tasks.
The other thing that I do to manage my time is, planning my work and college schedule ahead of time. When unscheduled activites pops up, I try to spend some time on those activities as well. I also keep a checklist for my assignments and works so that I don’t miss deadlines.
Multitasking is something everyone does these days. It’s hard not to multitask, given all the things we have to do and all the streams of information coming at us non-stop.
Juggling several tasks at a time is hard and it leave us tired. It’s kind of hard multitasking because the brain gets too juggled. So while multitasking it’s important to give it a break as well. Do something that you enjoy.
I find it difficult to juggle a full time job as a teacher and also concentrate on my studies. Hanging out with friends has become rare, the most amusing thing is that we have to check our schedules to fix the date. There are times that we even find ourselves postponing our long awaited get together because someone could not make it due to their work. Since I have to keep up with my studies, I do my college assignments in the evenings. As a result, I usually sleep at around midnight, which I know is an awful habit but I don’t have any other option.
Multitasking may save time, but I am poor in handling more than one task at a time. The proverb ‘ never put your foot in two boats’ because you cannot give your 100% in either one fully applies to me.
I think multitasking does help with time managment. Nowadays, I often find myself making a ‘to do list’ where the most important thing comes on the top of the list and those things that aren’t that important comes on the bottom. In this way, I am able to save time, as well as control my temper. For example, some months ago, I was a Facebook addict and had to go through my Facebook page without any reason constantly. But now, I have limited my Facebook time to one hour a day, this has helped me manage my time.