in Management, Self-Help

Zen of Time Management

Time is an alias of life, isn’t it?

If you say you spent the four years on learning Engineering, it implies that you devoted four years of your life to learn Engineering.

Time is an irreplaceable resource. Effective use of Time not only increases your effectiveness but improves the quality of your life.

Here are a few steps to help you with your time management:


  • Observe how you spend time on a daily basis. Keep track of all the significant activities that attract your time-attention. Do this for at least 15 days and see the pattern.
  • Visualize and set up your ideal daily routine and develop a habit of setting priorities for the year/month/week/day. Then spend time on high-priority items and leave low priority items at the bay.
  • Identify the time-stealers and adopt Anti-time-stealing techniques to deal effectively with the time-stealers:

A2Z of Anti-time-stealing methods is as below:

a. Break down the projects into a smaller chunk of tasks. Remember, you can effectively eat an elephant one piece at a time.

b. Understand and work on your top three MITs (most important tasks). To understand MITs, you must learn to set up goals and be clear about how achieving the set goals will make you happier.

c. If you are like most people, you work in a team so what if you remember your goals, but your team doesn’t? Remind them and align them such that for every team member, your goal becomes an important goal.

d. Delegate whatever you can. Identify common pattern of tasks. While delegating, make sure that you have set the specific expectations along with clear acceptance criteria.

e. Discuss time-saving ideas with others. Not surprisingly, you will find a few more ideas which you would not have known. Use the ones that serve you.

f. Make sure that you and everyone in your team respect the deadlines as if it were a criminal offense to miss a deadline. How about setting up a culture where “beating the deadline” is respected more than anything else.

g. Organize yourself to accomplish a thing from start to end. Don’t fragment your time.

h. Reserve a day of quiet time for yourself in a week. Use “Do not disturb” signs for uninterrupted work. If you can, turn off Notifications in your mobile/tablet device. They distract more than people!

i. Make effective use of secretaries or assistants to screen out time stealers. How about keeping a habit of checking the Facebook only 15 mins a week?

j. Consolidate email, chat and telephone time. Set a fixed time for answering the calls, answering your emails and responding to Text/WhatsApp messages. It is not productive to keep Skype, Google Talk or any other Chat window open with “Available” status

k. Eat that Frog! Don’t put off unpleasant tasks. Work on the most unpleasant tasks first. They are the ones you are avoiding because you are afraid (of something that you know in your gut!)

l. Use your idle time in improving your skills and character. Reading books, listening to inspirational audio and watching YouTube are some of the proper uses of your idle time.

m. Reduce Alcohol Eliminate alcohol from your weekdays if you can. If you cannot then maybe a small glass of wine is okay but no more.

n. Understand that work from home is no brainier, in most cases, most people find it difficult to manage because of the usual distractions

o. Don’t chase perfection. Perfection is a perception and often, perfect from a perspective won’t be perfect from the others.

p. Use your prime time for the MIT. For many people, their prime time is their morning time where they are fresh. Whatever it is, use it to carry out your most important tasks.

q. Make a habit of keeping a capture tool to capture your great ideas and to save them for later use.

r. Follow the 80/20 rule. Plan for 20 percent of your time so that you can act effectively for the rest of 80%. It’s known as the Pareto Principle also.

s. Audit your Time Record. Observe your time-spending pattern and see if you need to make a change. (Hint: 9/10 people would want to!)

t. Be clear about WHY and then focus on What. In most cases, focus on “how” is not necessary and leads to micromanagement which eats up your time.

u. Wake up one hour early than your usual wake-up time. If you wake up one hour early and work on your MITs, you will get more done in less time.

v. If you travel to your workplace in public transport, use that time to work on trivial stuff, so you don’t need to work on them during the day time.

w. Consider how many OTPs you are getting on your mobile for which you have to play the role of a postman. Consider changing the mobile no used for such SMS to someone else’s.

x. Don’t participate in all the meetings. We all get a lot of requests to attend the meetings in which we don’t have to play any significant role other than being a spectator. Avoid participating to such meetings.

y. Hire competent people. If you hire less qualified people, so you have to pay less salaries, you will end up teaching them a lot of stuff and discover that they will move on after learning from you. Waste of time. Consider hiring a less number of people but able ones.

z. Consider creating a simple system for all the repetitive tasks. And consider automating as much as you can.

The above A-Z is not a complete list of anti-time-stealing methods, but I hope they will provide you with intending to look at your behaviors critically from the time-management perspective and implement the zen of time management in your life and work.