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Strategies for Time Management and Productivity

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1 Strategies for Time Management and Productivity
Jennifer Sintzel Learning Skills Counsellor The Student Development Centre

2 We cannot manage time! But we can control how we use it.
First things first… We cannot manage time! But we can control how we use it. Time is finite. There is only so much of it, and no matter what you do, you can’t get more. Time is the only resource that must be spent the instant it is received, and it must be spent at one fixed rate: sixty seconds per minute, sixty minutes per hour. Thus, the very notion of time management is a misnomer. For we cannot manage time. We can only manage ourselves in relation to time. We cannot control how much time we have; we can only control how we use it. We cannot choose whether to spend it, but only how. Once we’ve wasted time, it’s gone—and it cannot be replaced.

3 Time Self Management

4 Purpose of Time (Self) Management
Allows you: A sense of control To pace yourself To achieve balance To make time for the things you enjoy To increase your productivity All of which….. REDUCES STRESS

5 Building Blocks of Time (Self) Management
Self Awareness Plan Ahead Establish Priorities Weekly planning Strategies for Getting the Most Out of your Time

6 1) Self Awareness What tasks need to be juggled?
Make a list of the major and minor tasks you need to complete at work on a weekly or daily basis. Consider one thing you’ll look back on in one month and be pleased about accomplishing. Consider a task(s) at work you wish you had more time to do.

7 Obstacles to Time Management
Lack of or inattention to planning Unclear expectations Multiple or competing demands Being unorganized Lack of clear goals Low concentration Procrastination

8 Goal Setting Personal/Professional Values What is important to you?
Do your current actions reflect your values? Life values may help us determine how we use our time. 30 spare minutes: someone who values orderliness and needs a tidy space to think clearly may spend that time organizing their work space, while someone who places a higher importance on fitness may go for a run. When our values and our actions don’t match, we tend to feel conflict.

9 Time Management: Building Awareness
Rank your top 5 tasks/responsibilities for your profession What currently takes the most time? __________ ___________

10 Activity Log Consider using the following tool: Activity
Time spent per week Regular or Occasional Essential or Optional Priority: (high/ medium/ low) Run through a typical week in your mind essential/optional – need vs. Want Review your list and determine which activities will be kept Some tough choices may need to be made! Do these activities reflect your goals and priorities?

11 2) Plan Ahead! Begin by taking a big picture approach
Identify and set long-term goals Break into small, manageable tasks and schedule self-set deadlines for each For example, consider Mark Twain’s advice… “The secret of getting ahead is getting started; and the secret of getting started is breaking your complex, overwhelming tasks into small, manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.”


13 3) Establish Priorities
1) Plan Ahead! Begin by taking a big picture approach Identify and set long-term goals Break into small, manageable tasks and schedule self-set deadlines for each 3) Establish Priorities Consider the BIG things first! Regularly review what you need to complete Decide what is most important and number each in rank order When time is tight, postpone nonessential tasks

14 What are your big rocks? Here’s why… Draw on Flipchart and narrate.
Stephen Covey (1996) tells a great story about the real things that we should devote our time to: One day an expert in time management was speaking to a group of business students. He produced about a dozen fist-sized rocks and carefully placed them one at a time into the jar. When the jar was filled to the top and no more rocks would fit inside, he asked, “Is this jar full?” Everyone in the class said, “Yes.” Then he said, “Really?” He reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of gravel. Then he dumped some gravel in and shook the jar causing it to work down into the space between the big rocks. Then he asked the group once more, “Is the jar full?” By this time the class was on to him. “Probably not,” one of them answered. “Good!” he replied. He reached under the table and brought out a bucket of sand and started dumping the sand in the jar until it filled the spaces left between the rocks and the gravel. Once more he asked the question, “Is this jar full?” “No!” the class shouted. Once again he said, “Good.” Then he grabbed a pitcher of water and began to pour it in until the jar was filled to the brim. Then he looked at the class and asked, “What is the point of this illustration?” One eager beaver raised his hand and said, “The point is, no matter how full your schedule is, if you try really hard you can always fit some more things in it!” “No,” the speaker replied, “that's not the point.” “The truth this illustration teaches us is that if you don't put the big rocks in first, you'll never get them in at all. What are the 'big rocks' in your life? Your children, your loved ones, your education, your dreams, a worthy cause, teaching others, doing things that you love, your health; your mate. Remember to put these BIG ROCKS in first or you'll never get them in at all. If you sweat about the little stuff then you'll fill your life with little things and you'll never have the real quality time you need to spend on the big, important stuff.” So, tonight, or in the morning, when you are reflecting on this short story, ask yourself this question: What are the 'big rocks' in my life? Then, put those in your jar first.

15 Stephen Covey’s ‘Priority Grid’
URGENT NON-URGENT IMPORTANT Do it now! Timetable it for later UNIMPORTANT Do it soon after first priorities Don’t worry about it The seven habits of highly effective people.

16 4) Weekly planning Begin with fixed tasks (eg. meetings)
Have realistic expectations Be aware of the time it takes to complete certain tasks i.e. writing always takes more time than you expect Expect setbacks Allow for flexibility Schedule your most challenging and important tasks at the time of day when you feel most energetic Evaluate and re-set goals


18 5) Get the most out of your time
Important Factors Optimize Concentration Remove Distractions Be Organized Combat Procrastination Maintain Motivation

19 1.Optimize Concentration
Consider factors that help you work best: background noise, silence? Working in short, frequent chunks, or for long, uninterrupted blocks of time? Play instrumental music Chart your energy levels Work on a dreaded or complex task at least a little every day Practice self-care: sleep, nutrition, exercise To be productive, avoid reading s too much. This goes for instant messaging, text messaging, blog reading, etc. They take up too much valuable time, and they interrupt your important work. Do these tasks at particular times, such as before heading out to lunch, or before going home for the day. A key productivity killer is the interruption. When you are interrupted you lose your train of thought. You need long blocks of time uninterrupted time to be productive.

20 2. Remove distractions 3. Be Organized
Check s, text messaging, etc. during designated times only. Download web-blocking software (i.e Strict Pomodora or “Waste No Time”) Set aside “worry time” 3. Be Organized Clear desk of all paper except the specific job at hand – this invites you to think of one thing at a time Organize according to: for action, for information, for reading, for waste

21 4. Procrastination: Putting off the doing of something intentionally or habitually
Break the cycle! Ask yourself -Why am I putting this off? - How am I putting this off? Procrastination is the worlds number one time waster

22 Why do I Procrastinate? Feeling overwhelmed Fear of being evaluated
Feeling like there is plenty of time Waiting to feel the crunch Insufficient prioritizing of tasks' importance Not sure how to do the task Burnout

23 How do I Procrastinate? Avoidance
Time Bandits: , socializing, cell phone, working on less urgent or easier tasks…. Internal distractions: e.g. negative thinking “I don’t have enough time,” “I won’t be able to do this well,” “ I don’t feel like this right now. Maybe I will later.” External distractions: e.g. noise, other people Each stretch of procrastination adds to the distance between you and your graduate degree. The American Psychological association reported that in 1978, only 5% of Americans considered themselves chronic procrastinators. Today that figure is 26%. Why the difference? The prevalence of high-tech items in out personal lives. It is easy to find an entertaining alternative to what we would rather not do.

24 Overcoming Procrastination
Challenge negative self-talk Record distracting thoughts Start small: Try task for five minutes, then five more Peer pressure: ask someone to check up on you Set realistic goals Give yourself a reward when you complete your tasks Remove distractions HALT (H: hungry • A: angry • L: lonely • T: tired) Identify unpleasant consequences of not doing the task The Pleasure-Pain Principal Give your brain permission to forget distracting thoughts by writing them down and knowing you can return to it later.

25 The Pleasure-Pain Principle Task: Writing Year End Report
Pleasure I will have from putting off task Pain I will have from putting off task Won’t have to think hard right now when I am not in the mood I’ll be more motivated later when I feel the “crunch.” Will be able to do easier or more enjoyable tasks I will feel guilty that I’m not doing work In the back of my mind I’ll still worry about the work I have to do My schedule will be thrown out: won’t be able to finish other tasks and/or meet deadlines now I’ll have to cram and then might be very stressed and not able to achieve high quality work Hard work is often the easy work you did not do at the proper time.

26 4. Maintain Motivation Other Motivation Strategies
Think about a past experience when motivation helped you to complete a complex task. What helped you to feel motivated? What helped you to maintain your motivation? Other Motivation Strategies Remind yourself of your goals and values Keep a log or journal of your achievements Reward your efforts and accomplishments Take breaks Believe in yourself! Combat negative self-talk Imagine how you’ll feel once you have completed the task Surround yourself with supportive or motivated people Reignite your passion – attend conferences Discuss the importance of motivation – link it to following through with planning

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