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.
Most professionals are successful in spite of themselves. How much more productive could you be and less stressed with better time management? NOBODY works best under pressure. Unless painted into a corner, some people lack the self-discipline to focus on completing a task. This is a favorite statement of procrastinators and perfectionists who fear that their best efforts may no be good enough. They avoid being measured by letting things go until the last minute then claiming, “I COULD have done this better IF I had had more time.” By not managing your time, you deny yourself the opportunity to do outstanding work. These methods lack integration, focus and an opportunity to plan your future. The test time management tool is an integrated system that allows for easy retrieval of information, tracking of projects, is focused on goals and records key decisions. Most time management experts agree that the average person can gain 2 hours per day through the use of time management techniques. Rushing to meet forgotten deadlines, or worrying about things that you need to do breeds stress. The added flexibility one enjoys through time management techniques actually promote creativity and spontaneity. You don’t have time NOT to learn hoe to manage your time!
Establishing specific goals is the first step in effective time management. This is absolutely critical, and it is often overlooked. Your goals set the focus for how you spend your time. As you become more adept at using your time effectively, you find that you make greater progress toward your goals.
People often confuse goals, or objectives, with priorities. Quite simply, priorities are objectives that have been ranked in order of importance. There are, however, five common priority setting traps. Do you “choose” your priorities simply by responding to things as they happen? If so, your priorities are really choosing you. Clarify your priorities by determining each task’s importance and level or urgency. This means negotiating with people to respond in a time frame that’s convenient to you and agreeable to them. “ It’s just easier to do it myself?” You need to ask yourself these questions: Am I trying to avoid conflict? Does the task at hand require a medical degree? But do their requests really demand your immediate attention? If not, give them a specific time or date when they can expect you to respond. They may squeak a little more initially, but eventually they’ll get your message and your priorities will remain your priorities, not theirs. “ It doesn’t look like anyone is really going to start working on this report. I guess I’ll do it.” Setting your priorities by default guarantees that truly important tasks will be put on the back burner. To prevent this, before taking on that report, ask yourself when the report is due and whether it’s really your responsibility. If it isn’t, determine who is responsible and ask them to give you periodic updates on their progress. If you wait until you’re “inspired” to complete a task, it probably isn’t going to happen. Instead, remind yourself that completing the task might have a pay-off. High-priority items won’t always be the easiest and most pleasant tasks on your list, but dig in and do them anyway, and you’ll be glad you did.
How are you spending your time? Research of high-performing organizations suggests that the most successful people spend 65 to 80 percent of their time on activities that are “important, but not urgent.” Such activities include training and education, goal setting and relationship building. The typical person spends about 15 percent of his or her time on those activities and much more (50-60 percent) on putting out fires for “urgent, but not important” activities such as interruptions and handling other people’s priorities.
Learning to recognize and then focus on that 20% is the key to making the most effective use of your time. Twenty percent of your colleagues, staff and patients probably give you 80 percent of the support and satisfaction you need. They are your true advocates and you need to take care of them. Let’s look at some examples to implementing the 80/20 rule.
All of us have significant tasks that occur more or less regularly. Who decides when you do these things, at what hour of the day? You do. Now add to that the idea of your personal energy cycle. Most of us have certain times of the day when we’re more energetic, mentally fresher, and other times when we’re less effective. Many people have an energy “dip” right after lunch (Siesta!). Study yourself for a few days. Are you a slow starter, or do you do your best work first thing in the morning? Plot your own energy cycle, and plan your day around it. Schedule your key tasks for your best working times, and work on those tasks at the same time each day.
If you don’t have goals, you may not be aware of where you’re heading so it won’t really matter if you procrastinate. That’s one way to rationalize it, but it won’t get you very far. You’ll be more likely to tackle an unpleasant task if you see the larger value in it. Decide that the project is important enough for you to schedule its beginning and completion dates on your calendar. If it’s not important enough to merit calendar space, then perhaps you should drop the idea of working on it. Even scheduling something to start six months or a year from now is better than waiting for a block of time that’s never going to come. No one can do it all, so choose carefully what you will do in this lifetime. If you’re doing something important to you, then you aren’t procrastinating. There should be no guilt in admitting that you’re working first on what’s most important and letting other tasks wait. But, if letting things wait leaves you feeling a loss financially, personally, professionally, or in terms of your self-esteem, then you need to get tough on procrastination. Avoiding something unpleasant is the #1 reason why people procrastinate. Don’t do it yet=prudent postponement If you’re not sure what to do, putting off an unpleasant task may be wise.
Crisis Manager=This person is always putting out fires and does not concentrate on advanced planning or learning from mistakes to avoid future crises. This lack of planning compounds any underlying disorganization. Set a daily and weekly plan and stick to it. Anticipate problems Learn from the past Don’t ovverract Utilize electronic aids Undisciplined Procrastinator=a lack of self-discipline and enjoyment of socializing often lead this resident to procrastinate. Whether from fatigue or a lack of interest, absent self-discipline prevents him from achieving necessary goals. His socializing can either be a cause of or an excuse for the snowballing effect of procrastination. Develop self-discipline Match tasks to energy level Set deadlines for yourself Develop techniques to cue the end of social time. Easily Distracted=This resident allows himself to be readily diverted from the task at hand whether by people or events. A lack of focus and an inability to prioritize prevent him from being optimally effective. Use text pagers Handle calls efficiently Frame time for visitors/family meetings Set realistic deadlines Reward yourself on finishing Perfectionist Resitern=“I can do it best myself” is often this person’s motto. This belief, whether from fear of failure or another cause, prevents him from effectively using other team members to help the team function efficiently. The inability to delegate can apply both to those below and above. Estimate time better Resist taking over Learn to delegate Give clear instructions Support and coach as needed Learn to say no Systematically Inefficient=He allows the inefficiencies of the system to dictate his productivity. He is not able to develop personal systems to solve or, at the least, to deal with systemic inefficiencies over which he may believe he has no control.’ Avoid unnecessary meetings Handle paperwork as it happens Teach team members better use of time Propose solutions to system inefficiencies Non-Communicator=He is unable to communicate his goals and plans effectively to those around him. She does not provide or obtain regular updates on progress toward goals and does not define, for himself or others, their roles at the start of a new task. Understand/confirm who’s responsible. Be a good listener Clarify assumptions Ask for feedback Set time for progress reports Impulsive Wanderer=this person is often backtracking, retracing his steps because he made decisions too hastily and without all the facts. Do a thorough initial assessment Coordinate planning
Time ManagementTime ManagementJennifer Peel, PhDJennifer Peel, PhDDirector of Education,Director of Education,Graduate Medical EducationGraduate Medical Education(How much can you cram into your life(How much can you cram into your lifeand how much more can you handle?)and how much more can you handle?)
First things first…First things first…You can’tYou can’tmanagemanagetime!time!
Purpose of Time (Self)Management Stress=Managing time well can preventmuch of the stress we are subject to. Balance=Good time habits can enable usto achieve a more balanced life, withadequate time and energy for work, home,family, self.Mackenzie, 1997
Purpose of Time (Self)Purpose of Time (Self)ManagementManagement Productivity=If you can become moreProductivity=If you can become moreeffective with your time, you automaticallyeffective with your time, you automaticallyincrease your productivity.increase your productivity. Goals=To make progress towardGoals=To make progress towardachieving your personal and professionalachieving your personal and professionalgoals, you need available time. Nothinggoals, you need available time. Nothingcan be done when you’re out of time.can be done when you’re out of time.Mackenzie, 1997
Misconceptions about TimeManagement “Time management is nothing butcommon sense.” “I work best under pressure.” “I use an appointment calendar and a to-do list. Isn’t that good enough?” “I’m a spontaneous person. Timemanagement will take all of the fun out oflife.” “I don’t have time to learn how to do all ofthis.”
Building Blocks of TimeBuilding Blocks of TimeManagementManagementGoalsGoalsTask ListTask ListTime ManagementTime ManagementToolToolScheduledScheduledPlanning SessionPlanning Session
Planning Puts You in ControlPlanning Puts You in Control1.1. Set long-rangeSet long-range goalsgoals and objectivesand objectiveslinked to them.linked to them.
Planning Puts You in ControlPlanning Puts You in Control1.1. Set long-rangeSet long-range goalsgoals and objectivesand objectiveslinked to them.linked to them.2.2. EstablishEstablish prioritiespriorities among those goalsamong those goalsand objectives based on their long-rangeand objectives based on their long-rangeimportance and short-range urgency.importance and short-range urgency.
PrioritiesPrioritiesFive Priority-Setting TrapsFive Priority-Setting Traps1.1. Whatever hits firstWhatever hits first2.2. Path of least resistancePath of least resistance3.3. Squeaky wheelSqueaky wheel4.4. DefaultDefault5.5. InspirationInspirationVaccaro, 2001
The 80/20 Rule (Pareto Principle) Theory of predictable imbalance The relationship between input and outputis rarely, if ever, balanced. 20% of your efforts produce 80% of theresults.Vaccaro, 2000
The 80/20 RuleWhere are you? You’re in your 80% if you’re: Working on tasks other people want you to,but have no investment in them Frequently working on tasks labeled “urgent” Spending time on tasks you’re not good at Complaining all of the time
The 80/20 RuleWhere are you? You’re in your 20% if you’re: Engaged in activities that advance youroverall purpose in life Doing things you have always wanted to do orthat make you feel good about yourself Working on tasks you don’t like, but you’redoing them know they related to the biggerpicture Smiling
Implementing the 80/20 Rule Read less. Identify the 20% of thejournals you get that are most valuable. Keep current. Make yourself aware ofnew technological innovations. Remember the basics. Let your ethicsand values guide your decision making,and you’re bound to end up focusing onyour 20%.
Planning Puts You in Control1. Set long-range goals and objectiveslinked to them.2. Establish priorities among those goalsand objectives based on their long-rangeimportance and short-range urgency.3. Learn your personal energy cycle andsketch out an “ideal day” based on yourbest working times.
The Ideal DayThe Ideal DayMackenzie, 1997A Template forYour Daily Plan5:30-6:00 am Commute6:00-6:30 am Review Patient Charts6:30-8:30 am Rounds8:30-11:30 am11:30-noon LunchNoon-
Planning Puts You in Control1. Set long-range goals and objectiveslinked to them.2. Establish priorities among those goalsand objectives based on their long-rangeimportance and short-range urgency.3. Learn your personal energy cycle andsketch out an “ideal day” based on yourbest working times.4. Use the above three to create a plan forthe day and write it down!
Putting it All TogetherMackenzie, 19971.Start with long-range goals and objectives.2.Relate the day’s activities to those goals.3.Assign priorities to the day’s tasksaccording to their contribution to youroverall goals.4.Schedule tasks according to priority and tothe degree of concentration required.5.Stay on track, using the plan to guide youthrough crises and interruptions.
Time Wasters Management bycrisis Telephoneinterruptions Inadequateplanning Drop-in visitors Ineffectivedelegation Personaldisorganization Lack of self-discipline Inability to say no Procrastination Meetings Paperwork
Just say “no”Why is it so hard? Most of us have been taught that “no” isdisrespectful and even insulting. We tend to value other people’s time morehighly than our own. We have a need to cooperate and adesire to be liked. There are often unconscious concerns ofbeing thought of as lazy or selfish.
Just say “no”How do you say it? “I can’t do it right now, but I can fit it inlater.” “I am not the best qualified person for thatjob, how about asking…” “I just don’t have any room in my schedulefor the next few weeks.” “I can’t focus on that right now.”
Just say “no”How do you say it? “I have made a commitment to completemy current project/task ahead of anyother.” “Normally I would say yes, but I’ve had afew things come up unexpectedly and Ihave to deal with those first.” “I would rather say no than end up doing asecond rate job for you.”
Procrastination There’s a recognizable pattern toprocrastination. There are ways to stop:1. Set meaningful goals.2. Don’t believe in magic.3. Make good choices.4. Deal with the unpleasant. Do it. Don’t do it yet. Ditch it. Delegate it.Vacarro, 1999
Categories of Time Wasters The Crisis Manager The Undisciplined Procrastinator The Easily Distracted The Perfectionist Resitern The Systematically Inefficient The Non-Communicator The Impulsive Wanderer
Getting Started1.Begin each week by using your timemanagement device to examine your tasklist/schedule and plan the coming week.• Prioritize your tasks!2.Carry your planning device with you andstart each day by checking your task list andyour schedule for the next 3 days.3.Mark recurrent dates in your planner for theentire year.
Getting Started4.Use retrograde planning to assure that youdon’t forget special projects or deadlines.• Projects should be broken intocomponents and retrograde planningshould be done from the due date.4.“What is the best use of my time right now?”5.Take advantage of small bites of time.6.Plan activities according to your physiology.7.Build in time for exercise.