Thursday, September 24, 2015

3 Keys Thursday: 3 Keys to Effective Time Management

Photo credit: Dodgerton Skillhause
The semester has begun, and I feel as though time is managing me rather than vice versa. As I sit down to write this, for example, it's 11:14 PM -- about 24 hours later than I'm usually finalizing a Three Keys Thursday post, and yet I'm just getting started.

How ironic that the post I planned for today is on time management. Fortunately, two of the three keys are brought to you by people wiser than me.

Zoom in, zoom out. This one was inspired by Marcia Ramsland, who talks about managing time horizontally (from the beginning of the week to the end of the week) and vertically (from the beginning of the day to the end of the day) in her book Simplify Your Life. Doing only vertical time management gives us tunnel vision and creates pressure to get it all done in a small space of time, while managing time only horizontally may leave us planning in generalities and neglecting the step-by-step process necessary to get to the things on the weekly calendar. Balancing the two helps us balance small tasks and big ones.

Pencil it in: Set a time or it won't get done. I first read this in a book by Julie Morgenstern, and it makes a lot of sense. Making lists is a great start, but often, if we don't assign times to things, they don't get done. If something's been lingering on your to-do list, pencil it into your calendar so you can get it off the to-do list.

Make time to manage time. Ironically, it takes time to manage time, especially when you're trying to coordinate multiple schedules. Pausing to take a look at what lies ahead each day (or the day before) and each week gives us a better sense not only of what we have to do, but of time itself.
Still, despite the best strategies, time management is an imperfect process. Time is a non-renewable resource that often seems to run out much sooner than we'd like, and when it comes to time management, a certain amount of energy is required. When we feel overwhelmed or exhausted, it's hard to look at to-do lists and calendars and weave them together into a pattern that makes sense. At our house, Friday dinners have become our opportunity to talk about what everyone has planned for the upcoming week, and to coordinate our calendars so we all have some idea of what lies ahead. Admittedly, I'm more enthusiastic about this than anyone else in my house; perhaps that's because I'm the one who needs it the most.

Especially this semester.

See you next Thursday. After all, I've got it on my calendar.

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