Professionals give expert advice on time management
BY NOUR HABIB World Scene Writer
Monday, December 17, 2012
12/17/12 at 10:19 AM
With 2013 edging closer, New Year's resolutions may be on people's minds. And for many, those resolutions are hard to keep.
The problem may not be a lack of will power but poor time management skills.
"We all suffer from lack of time," said Lee Martin, a Tulsa counselor and life coach who is also the author of the book "Freeing Oneself: Breaking Through Your Barriers to Find Balance and Happiness."
Martin suggests devoting time to the things that you really value in life, even if it is a small amount of time.
For example, if spending time with your child is important, set aside half an hour one day to draw with your daughter, or take the kids on a quick trip to Dollar General.
"It doesn't need to be a trip to Disney World," he said.
Martin and other Tulsa-area professionals with experience in time management coaching offer tips to help people better manage and increase their time.
Priorities and lists
Sherie Barron, a Tulsa counselor and life coach, said making to-do lists is essential to effectively manage your time.
Barron recommends separating lists into daily, short-term and long-term tasks.
Prioritize the tasks on your
lists in order of importance.
Then, try to complete the three items at the top of your list, she said.
At the end of the day, review the tasks that have not been completed and decide whether to carry them into the next day.
Or simply to drop them from the list.
Prioritizing is also important when you are setting goals for yourself.
"What we value is where we need to be spending our time," Martin said.
Barron said to set yourself up for success, ask yourself two things when you're about to set a goal: Am I willing to work for it? And is it attainable?
"Sometimes, other people have goals for you," Barron said.
Examine your goals to be sure that they are what you want in life, not what someone else thinks you should want.
Break down your goals into pieces, Martin said, determining what you would like to accomplish monthly, yearly and in five years. Then revisit the goal occasionally to determine whether you're on track.
Breaking down tasks into small pieces also works for short-term projects, said psychologist Tom Brian, director of Counseling & Psychological Services in the Alexander Health Center at the University of Tulsa.
Brian recounted a case of a student who had not started on her thesis until her last semester and was sure she would not receive her degree because she would not be able to finish in time.
Brian encouraged her to spend five minutes a day writing her thesis, and by the end of the semester, she had completed it.
Breaking down projects makes them feel more attainable, and eventually you will spend more time working on a task because it is not so intimidating, Brian said.
The most productive people do not give 100 percent effort to every task they do, Brian said.
He said studies have shown that it takes the same amount of time and energy to go from 80 percent to 100 percent that it does to get from 0 percent to 80 percent.
Don't be a perfectionist. Learn to be at peace with telling yourself, "I did a good enough job," Brian said. That helps free up time for the other important aspects of your life, such as spending time with your kids, he said.
"We have to multitask in life," she said. "We try to be a good parent, a good employee or employer, a good partner, a good friend."
Decide how much energy you can afford to give each of these aspects of your life, she said. Don't give your best to everything, just what you deem is a reasonable amount of effort.
Take some time each day to relax.
Everyone needs "goof-off time," Brian said, or time "where you do nothing and you don't feel guilty about it."
Spend time doing whatever. Read, stare off into space, zone out in front of the TV. For some people, relaxing may even involve doing an intense activity that will drive away all other worries.
Find what relaxes you, and spend at least 20 minutes a day doing it, Brian said.
Martin says he is seeing a rise in stress and anxiety disorders because people have so much to do.
"You've got to carve out some time just to give it all a rest," Martin said.
More time management tips:
1. Limit distractions
Carve out specific time for things like social networking and surfing the Web. If music distracts you, avoid it. If you're distracted by a noisy office, train yourself to block it out, or consider noise-canceling headphones.
2. Take breaks
Some recommend taking a 10-minute break after 50 minutes of work. Others suggest taking your breaks when you feel that your productivity is diminishing.
Do not feel that you have to complete every task yourself. At home, divide chores or pay someone to complete some tasks, such as mowing your lawn.
4. Be flexible
Think of your schedules as hypotheses. Do not be discouraged if you do not stick to them. Re-evaluate regularly, and re-assign time for tasks according to your lifestyle.
5. Live healthy
Get enough sleep, exercise and eat healthy. It will improve your cognitive ability and you'll have more energy.
Sources: TU psychologist Tom Brian; Tulsa counselors and life coaches Sherie Barron and Lee Martin
Original Print Headline: Time Change
Nour Habib 918-581-8369
Illustration by JASON POWERS / Tulsa World