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As ‘time paucity’ threatens to become the plague of this new century, Business Optimizer reexamines the importance of effective and balanced time management – and offers some tips to avoid burnout.
How many times have you got to the end of your working day and wondered where all the time went?
This sense that there just aren’t enough hours in the day is, unfortunately, all too common. But, with effective time management, it needn’t be that way.
Why is time management important?
Effective time management helps you achieve your most important daily tasks, make space to work towards the long-term life goals you have, and improve your work-life balance.
Prioritization and organization are key.
Organizing your desires into clear goals and setting them down on paper is the first step. Once you have articulated your goals, you can start to break them down into key milestones and what you need to achieve each month, week and day.
Life Gets in the Way
Of course, no matter how organized we are in terms of planning, life has a tendency to throw a few curveballs every now and again.
Understanding that we can’t anticipate every event, and making room in our schedule to accommodate the urgent events and tasks we haven’t anticipated, is important if we are going to be able to stick to our plans.
The discipline to not let these unexpected and urgent tasks throw us completely off course is critical if we are to finish the day content that we have moved closer to achieving our goals. This requires us to know the difference between urgent and important and to prioritize accordingly.
The first signs of burn out
If we are unable to prioritize effectively and spend too much time firefighting, it can lead to overwork, stress and, eventually burnout.
Burnout is physical or mental collapse caused by overwork or stress. There are a few early warning signs that we must be aware of:
- high levels of stress or anxiety;
- lack of engagement and poor attention span;
- feelings of resentment or disconnection;
- disrupted or lack of sleep;
- low energy and exhaustion;
- excessive worry or self-criticism;
- and a weaker immune system and physical illness.
Being able to manage your time effectively and switching off at the end of the working day is crucial to guard against burnout – as well as to protect your family and social life.
The importance of quiet time
In a 2017 article in Harvard Business Review, Justin Talbot-Zorn and Leigh Marz argue that switching off has another benefit: it delivers a boost to your inspiration and creativity.
They argue, “the busier you are, the more you need quiet time” and cite fellow HBR contributor Hal Gregersen who wrote: “it’s tough to make room for truly different perspectives or radically new ideas. It’s hard to drop into deeper modes of listening and attention. And it’s in those modes of attention that truly novel ideas are found.”
Talbot-Zorn and Marz suggest punctuating meetings with five minutes of quiet time, walking in nature, going on a media fast, and trying a meditation retreat.
Instead of seeing quiet moments as a waste of time, they argue we should “embrace these moments and see them as what they are: time well spent.” So, perhaps, another key element of your time management strategy should be to allow yourself some moments of silence.