Time Management

Staying On Target: How Time-Management Fuels Motivation, and Vice Versa

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Staying On Target: How Time-Management Fuels Motivation, and Vice Versa
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Staying On Target: How Time-Management Fuels Motivation, and Vice Versa

The relationship between motivation and time management is an interesting one. Being super motivated is great, but if you haven’t effectively managed your time, all that motivation will be wasted, as you get bogged down with inefficiency. Excellent time management skills means you’re more likely to accomplish your tasks effectively, skyrocketing your productivity. This then leads directly to your work being appreciated, leaving you feeling motivated to continue the cycle!

This relationship means that an understanding of time management is incomplete without understanding motivation, and vice versa. Motivation is derived from two sources – intrinsic and extrinsic. Extrinsic motivators are those external factors such as pay, company culture, and benefits. Obviously, an employee who is fairly compensated and passionate about working with a great team is going to perform better. More subtle are intrinsic motivators. These are from within; you want to do something because it is interesting and enjoyable to you.

So how does time management play into this? One study on the relationship between time management, job satisfaction, and motivation among university teachers in Pakistan demonstrates that employees with time management training report greater motivation, job satisfaction, and work/home life balance. Time management improves intrinsic motivation and job satisfaction by effectively controlling and planning time to reduce stress (one of the most critical factors in professional success). Through goal setting, prioritization, planning, and performance evaluation, time management helps make employees happy, healthy and motivated.

Here are 8 tips to help you manage your time like a pro to stay motivated:

1. Be realistic

At one point or another, most of us have probably taken on more than we can handle. It’s hard saying “no” when you want that promotion or raise. But being overworked can prevent people from practicing time management, leading to dissatisfaction and demotivation. This is why it’s important to be realistic – of yourself, your team, and your employees. Avoid burning out by setting realistic goals for yourself, both short-term and long-term.

Tasks don’t take everyone the same amount of time, and if you need a bit longer to achieve something and do it well, allow yourself that time. If you feel that you are being overworked and can’t keep up with the workload you’ve been given, have an honest conversation with your boss. Luckily, it’s a workers market (finally!) and any good workplace will know your value and be willing to give you the support you need.

Another thing to keep in mind is that there is a people dimension in time management. Your planning must reflect consideration for dealing effectively with other people and their influence on your time and schedule.

Select goals and schedule in advance

2. Select goals and schedule in advance

Planning out your day and your week ahead of time will do wonders. Think of your tasks and set out time blocks that allocate periods for each. Again, it’s important to be realistic and give yourself buffer time in case some things run long and time for small but frequent breaks. Scheduling in breaks also helps keeps you motivated because you have something to look forward to.

When you set goals that you’d like to accomplish for each day and schedule time to achieve those goals, you’ll feel motivated to work towards something rather than spending time figuring it out as you go.

3. Prioritize

Have you ever been in a situation where you have something super important on the agenda, but it also happens to be the most tedious task? So instead of getting that very important thing done, you engage in productive procrastination, working on the more fun tasks that are not pressing whatsoever, and scrambling to get the important thing done right before the due date.

This is why prioritization is critical. As much as we may want to put off the boring tasks, giving ourselves time to buckle down and work on urgent matters works out for the best in the long run.

That being said, balance is also necessary. If you know a particular task will be draining for you, schedule shorter periods to work on it and start further in advance. In the popular book “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, Stephen Covey explains that we should schedule time to achieve our priorities rather than prioritizing our schedules. So instead of just working on something important and urgent, we balance our schedule by blocking out time for important and non-urgent things. This helps us prevent and anticipate, rather than crisis control.

Adapt and adjust on the daily

4. Adapt and adjust on the daily

Life is unpredictable, so unexpected events are a given. You’ll often need to re-evaluate your goals to accommodate the unforeseen. When you expect the unexpected, it’s a lot less likely that this will affect your ability to adapt and accomplish. With adequate time management in place, tackling whatever is thrown at you won’t hurt the rest of your goals.

Adapting on a daily basis is important because life is dynamic. Giving yourself a chance to review your schedule each day allows you to reevaluate your plan and consider if it is still relevant and prioritized in the right way.

5. The four Ds

When planning out your schedule, try using the 4 Ds of time management strategy. They are: Do, Delete, Defer, and Delegate.

Do: If you have a task that needs to be done that takes less than two minutes, make like Nike and just do it! If it’s something that takes longer, allocate the time to do it (see above).

Delete: Decide if the activity will get the long-term result that you need. If it won’t, or has no perceivable benefit, simply move on.

Defer: When new requests come in that are both non-urgent and non-important, add them to a list to refer back to. This allows you to refocus on what is on your table now.

Delegate: It can be hard to let go, especially for us control freaks, but sometimes you just have to share the load. Think about whether your time is spent more productively by delegating the task or doing it yourself. If someone else can do it, let them.


6. Portability

Covey recommends that time management needs to be a factor on the go, meaning it should be an engrained personal habit and not just something we do at work.

We all occupy many different roles – in our business, personal and social lives. We are employees, parents, friends, mentors, romantic partners, etc. We’re often expected to give our time to each of these roles, and approaching time management as a portable skill that transcends the workplace helps us become effective in any position we occupy.

Each day, as you would for work, think about your different roles and set out 3 goals that you’d like to accomplish for each. Set the time out to achieve these goals. As you meet the needs of your roles, you’ll feel motivated to keep it up. Eventually, this will become habit.

Stop multitasking

7. Stop multitasking

While this may not be exactly what you want to hear, it’s the truth: multitasking is a myth. When trying to do multiple things at once, you’re really just shifting your attention between tasks. Multi-tasking isn’t practical, nor is it efficient. It really just wastes time and makes it more likely that your work will have errors. To help you focus on one thing at a time, try to take short scheduled breaks between tasks.

8. You don’t need all those apps at work!

We all carry a certain rectangular device in our pocket that is scientifically engineered to suck as much time away from you as possible. Yes, phones are absolutely dreadful for distracting us, but are also essential to how we work today. Try to avoid the whirlpool of distraction, where a text turns into a 30 minute Instragram scroll, by simply remaining conscious of your actions. Even just asking yourself questions such as ‘do I really want to scroll through my feed, or do I have work that I need to get done’ can make a big difference.

At work, simply relying on motivation as our drive to complete tasks is a mistake. The fact is, humans are complex, and we can’t be super motivated 100% of the time. Time management is therefore crucial to motivation, because it provides a structure through which we can stay on track to fulfil our responsibilities. And at the end of the day, what could be more motivating than reflecting on all you’ve accomplished, and being sure that you have the tools to tackle whatever else comes your way.

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