Maybe you’ve decided that this is the year that you’re going to do a better job of ‘managing’ your time.
But, if you listen to Richard Dutton, a retired professor of Managerial Behavior & Organization Studies from the University of South Florida, it is impossible to “manage” time.
“Time cannot be managed. It is completely independent of us,” Dutton said.
“We can use time. We can’t replace time,” said Dutton, formerly of the Muma College of Business at USF.
It’s also impossible to “save time,” added Dutton, during remarks he delivered as part of a free lecture series offered through the university’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, also known as OLLI.
When people — especially college students — think about their personal resources, they tend to consider money to be their scarcest resource, Dutton said.
But, he said, that’s not true.
“Time is your scarcest resource. Today will never ever happen again. So, how you use your time today is critical. You can make more money. You can work more hours. You can’t make more time,” he said.
There are, however, ways to be more efficient and to make better use of your time, Dutton said, during his talk at the Jimmie B. Keel Regional Library.
Here are some ways Dutton suggests to help you make better use of your time:
- List your objectives
- Rank the objectives based on importance
- List actions that you need to take to achieve your objectives
- Prioritize those actions
- Schedule your time based on your priorities.
It’s important to have a manageable list, Dutton said. He suggests a list averaging five items. Avoid making lists that have more than nine items, he said.
It’s also important to know when you are most effective, Dutton said. Be aware of your personal productivity cycle. Some people wake up raring to go; others fare better later in the day.
It’s also important to discern the difference between being busy and being effective, Dutton said.
“We need more focused thinking,” he said. “When we prioritize things well, we do the right things, not just the obvious things.
Schedule your most difficult tasks during your peak productivity periods, Dutton said.
Be sure to protect yourself from interruptions when you are doing your most difficult work, he said.
“Our mind is not good at solving problems that are complicated or difficult when we only have little splinters of time to work with,” he said. “We need chunks of time to solve complicated problems.”
When people are zoned in on a problem, their concentration can be broken by an alert they receive on their Smartphone, he said.
So, be sure to minimize disruptions by insulating yourself from telephone calls or people popping by for a chat, he said.
He also recommends grouping less important tasks together and doing them at the same time. That may mean reading through emails, returning telephone calls or doing busy work that has to be done but is not as important as other work you need to accomplish, he said.
Technology is useful, but needs to be used wisely, Dutton added.
“Sometimes we make ourselves busier than we should be. When you send out an email, you get an email back, right?
“Now you have to send another email.
“This is a never-ending cycle.
“Can’t we just talk?” Dutton asked.
One of the downsides of technology is the constant interruptions it creates, he said.
“I want to be the master of that phone. I don’t want it to interrupt me,” he said. “It’s my phone. I turn it on when I think I need it.”
Another way to accomplish more with our time is to master the art of delegation, Dutton said.
“Multiple yourself by letting other people have a part of the project, have a part of the action. You can help develop them, and, in the future they may be more and more and more helpful,” Dutton said.
Tips for having effective meetings:
- Have a time limit
- Have a written agenda
- Consider conducting the meeting in a room without chairs — that tends to speeds things up.
Tips for choosing which line to wait in:
- Get behind a single shopper with a full cart, rather than several shoppers who have fewer items.
- When there are a series of lines, choose lines to the left. People tend to choose lines to their dominant side, so be sure you are giving all lines a fair shot.
- Look for female cashiers, they tend to be faster in processing details.
- Avoid chatty cashiers, regardless of gender.
- Look at what people have in their carts. Don’t get behind people who have items that can complicate the transaction, such as someone who has lots of produce that must be weighed, or someone who has lots of coupons.
- When there is a choice between a single line that leads to one cashier, or a line that leads to several cashiers, choose the one that has more cashiers. People tend to be more concerned about how long the line is than they are about how fast it is moving.
Published January 4, 2017