Time is the most democratic of resources: we all have the same number of minutes and hours in a day. So why does it work fine for some people but others never have enough of it?
How can we make the best possible use of it, especially at work?
There are three essential pillars that we should keep in mind when we want to manage time effectively: PRP, which represents the three fundamentals of Planning, Responsibilities and Proactivity.
Good planning means understanding how to make a comprehensive list of activities. We need an overview of the tasks to be performed, with timing, priorities and deadlines attached. It’s usually most effective to plan in writing rather than trying to keep everything in your head. If we reduce the load on our memory, we are better able to keep the overall vision in mind. Moreover, it has been shown that doing more concrete planning helps to motivate you. So create a written plan to keep the situation under control and monitor the status of your activities regularly, to prevent you forgetting something important.
Another suggestion is to allow for contingencies during the planning phase – these are unexpected events that arise and could otherwise derail the plan. Experience shows that it is best to plan activties for only about 60% of the time available, then use the remaining 40% for contingencies.
Defining and respecting exact responsibilities is equally important. We need to understand and actively identify roles, functions and skills within the team, if we truly want to optimise time.
Finally, on proactivity, taking a proactive approach is often vital, both to manage situations in a positive way and above all to avoid being overwhelmed by stress.
Sometimes we find ourselves needing to do things that involve people outside our department or even outside our company, over whom we have no direct control. It’s sensible to ask yourself: “What aspects of this situation can I manage directly, what aspects can I influence and what should I just accept?”. A proactive person will focus their leadership efforts in the first two areas (direct and indirect control areas) and understand their own limits in the third area, thereby taking responsibility for time management themselves. A passive person allows the responsibility to diffuse across the third parties, but in doing so usually just builds their feeling of helplessness, stress and frurstration because, “It does not depend on me… It’s not my fault “.