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The Secret of Time Management: Practical Tips

The sentence “I don’t have the time for…” has become a routine phrase in our lingo. The problem of time is definitely a dire conundrum we young people face in the 21st century. “Time is precious” – though quite a clichéd sentence, is an accurate expression. Go about and ask any young person in 2014, what the most valuable thing in their life is, and they will answer “time.” Then why do we struggle so much with time management?

“I don’t have the time for…” At the Youth Time Summer School back in 2014, Aoife Prendergast, a Dublin based scholar, academic and researcher led an exciting workshop on time management. She particularly focused on the challenges young people face when it comes to managing time and some tips to overcome these challenges. To little surprise, the usual suspects were procrastination, over-committing and lack of planning - the real troublemakers when it comes to time management. Recently, we caught up with a young Doha-based 23-year-old PR executive, working for a multinational London-based communications agency. Hooriya Hussain has absolutely no time on her hands. And in our short five minute conversation, she said “I am so busy with work, life and everything in between that sometimes I wish that I have the superpower to just pause time! I just want to stop time so I can slow down, get some rest, catch up on my sleep, be with myself and finish my work. Oh how I wish.” It seems like a common thought in today’s day and age. “I am so busy with work, life and everything in between that sometimes I wish that I have the superpower to just pause time! I just want to stop time so I can slow down, get some rest, catch up on my sleep, be with myself and finish my work. Oh how I wish.” It is no argument that the “quest” for time has taking over our lives. The Internet is filled with pseudo-philosophers sharing their insight on extending the hours in a day from 24 to perhaps 30 or 36. These radical ideas are stemmed from this desperation caused due to the lack of time. There simply is no time to excel at work, be happy in one’s personal life and be content with oneself, in just 24 hours…or at least many argue that. Last year the Financial Times even did a story on how Workaholics Anonymous groups are propping up online, catering to the depression and anxiety caused by over-working. On one hand, there is the lack of time, while on the other, there is the waste of time. Young people around the world will vehemently agree, whether admittedly or embarrassingly, that procrastination is their number one enemy when it comes to managing their time. It is easy to be distracted by social media sites and the allure of the television remote. The distractions for young people are many and there are one too many things keeping us away from managing our time well. Here are the top five things we believe every young person should keep in mind, while managing their time: Have a plan A common saying goes “those who fail to plan, plan to fail.” Having a plan is critical! Be it a simple short-term plan for the week, or a long-term plan for the year or the next ten – make a plan and try to work towards it as hard as you can. Do not be disgruntled or saddened when things do not go according to plan though. Make sure, however, that you have set a realistic, plausible and attainable plan. Got a plan already? Great! Now work on a plan B and plan C, because crises can hit at anytime and a contingency plan would save the day when plan A fails. Use a system of planning that you trust. It could be your phone or the calendar on your laptop. It could even be the old-school method – a diary or a scheduler. Do what works for you. Have. A. Plan. “Those who fail to plan, plan to fail.” Prioritize We are constantly bombarded with obligations and commitments throughout our day. Left, right and center, we see things thrown at us – chores, work projects, family commitments, errands, and the lists goes on. Take some time to yourself every once in a while and reflect on what your priorities are. Jot them down and workout your plan accordingly. We have to balance work and life, and this can be a daunting task; especially in 2014. Once you have your priorities clear, it becomes easier for you to dedicate time to the things that matter to you. Some days, work is a priority, and others it could be family, friends or just simply being by yourself. Make sure you work towards dedicating the appropriate amount of time to each of those priorities. Be proactive Being proactive can be considered the opposite of procrastinating. With your plan worked out and your priorities set, try your best to be ahead of your schedule, rather than chasing it. Putting things off until the last minute only adds unnecessary pressure and anxiety, which can be avoided with a tad bit of being proactive. Think about checking off those tasks on your list, ‘now,’ and reward yourself with some stress-free relaxation time later. Be selfish Being selfish may sound like a very negative trait, but sometimes it is absolutely necessary to put yourself first. We put our minds and bodies through so much strain and stress, with little to no knowledge of what benefit it will bring us. If the task at hand that you are so committed to and are investing so much time and effort into is not bringing you the mental, physical and emotional satisfaction you hoped it would, maybe you are wasting your time with it. And wasting time is the worst way to manage time! Do not be afraid to say no There is so much to do in our lives, and so little time. And we feel obligated to bite off more than we can chew. We say yes to more work in the office, we say yes to more family dinners, we say yes to more outings with friends; but we say yes without realizing that we cannot afford to say yes. The fear of missing out, or commonly called #fomo in the twitterverse, is something all young people face in the 21st century. And because of this fear, we feel obligated to overwhelm and overbook ourselves in things that we cannot afford to be a part of. Do not be afraid to say no. Opportunities will come and go, but your health and well being, both physically and mentally, will be impacted if you do not manage your time effectively. Saying no is the first step towards clearing up that cluttered, busy schedule. Next time you feel like your schedule is going haywire, follow the above five steps and bring back the “management” in your time management. Remember! – The key to a perfect work-life balance is how well your manage your time.

Photo: Shutterstock

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