Posted by Olexandr Prokhorenko on 11th May 2011

Time Management: What is Your Time Bandit?

Time management skills are something that we all need to learn in our personal as well as working life. When you have and practice good time management skills then your productivity will go up and your stress levels will go down, a very important goal for all of us.

Do you ever find yourself running around like a mad person trying to get everything done only to collapse at the end of another long day and realize that you actually accomplished very little that you set out to do? Does it seem like no matter what you need to get done something more important always crops up to derail your plans?

There are a few things that you can do to help improve your time management skills so you can get more of the things that need to be done, done. The very first of which is to realize that you can not manage time you can only manage how you spend it.

No matter how hard you try there are still only a total of 24 hours available in any given day. Out of that 24 hours you need to devote around 8 hours to sleep and at least 2 hour to goofing off to be productive.

Did I just say you should devote time to goofing off? It’s true, you should always factor in a few minutes of everyday toward doing something that you enjoy for no other reason that it relaxes you. Too much time devoted to work with no play will only create more stress. Everyone should have time to de stress.

Time management is all about a change in certain habits. Habits you may or may not realize that you have. The tips below are designed to help you discover how YOU waste time and how you can go about changing your time wasting habits so you can get more done with less stress.

Discover where you waste time: We are all guilty of at least one time wasting activity and many of us are guilty of several. The “time bandits” are something that we do without realizing we are doing that steals minutes if not hours from every day. For instance I myself am a surfer and avid email checker.

When I am doing research on the internet prior to writing something I tend to get side tracked into surfing instead of staying on topic. I also habitually check my email and answer it every few minutes. This may not seem so bad but I found I was spending several hours of every day dealing with emails and surfing the net for fun. Other people spend hours on the phone talking to friends.  

Discovering what your “time bandit” is, is half the battle of changing that habit. To discover what your “time bandit” is spend 1 week keeping track of what you do every minute of the day. For instance when you take a phone call mark down whether the call was business or personal and how long it took or when you check your email make a note of how long you spend. This way you may begin to see where all your precious time is actually going.

Once you discover what your “time bandit” is you can take steps to change the habit such as carving out a schedule for yourself.

To create a schedule that will help you get control of your personal “time bandit” decide how much time you can afford to waste on each activity. For instance my schedule calls for 15 minutes first thing in the morning to catch up on email then another 15 minutes around lunch time. I even set a timer so I know when it is time to go back to work.

I also set specific time goals for how long I allow myself for research on the internet and set the timer for that. Somewhere in the back of my mind is the tick tock of the timer which forces me to bookmark interesting off topic stuff instead of investigating it right then. This trick has greatly improved my concentration on the topic at hand which allows me to actually get more done.

Perhaps those who spend too much time on the phone should set aside an hour a day to chat with friends and family but turn the phone off when work is in progress as well as make it clear to everyone that you are available at such and such time to chat. You can also get a hands free set for your phone and chat while doing other things such as grocery shopping or driving. Do NOT drive and talk on the phone without hands free set. It can be dangerous and is actually illegal some places.

Sometimes simply becoming aware of what your “time bandit” is can be enough to help you manage your time more wisely. Other times you need a timer or other external way to help you control the problem but with diligence you can address the bad habits and reclaim some of your lost time to become much more productive.


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