“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, a time to die, a time to plant and a time to pluck…..” (Eccles. 3. 1-14).
Do you often feel that you have a lot to do, but have not enough time? Well, You are not alone. There are quite many people who foolishly lament over the lack of time.
Paradox of time
No one has enough time, Yet every one has all there is
All have equal amount of time; Yet you have not enough time.
Do you want to learn to do your most important duties in time and in a relaxedwayenjoying it?. You can be helped.. But you have to have two qualities:
- Willingness to look at your own mode of spending time.
- Readiness to discipline yourself to take decisions and implement them.
Caution: This paper is to help you organize yourself better to be more effective in your mission. A healthy balance between rigidity and laxity is to be achieved when you implement the principles presented here. Remember, you are a human person, not a machine.
(At this stage you may introduce a group exercise: Discuss in small groups the following question and gather the answers in general session: 1. What are the ways your superiors, companions or collaborators and yourself misuse your time?)
A. Sources of misuse of time: Three major sources
1.Your superiors: They can be a source of wasting your time when:
2.Your companions, collaborators/subordinates
You misuse your time more than any one else. Then you are your own enemy. Your own unhealthy habits swallow much of your time
1. Procrastination, “I will do it tomorrow.
2. Don’t feel like, being lazy ,day dreaming
3. No time schedule or planning and clear goals
4. Too engrossed in one work, over involvement
5. Gossiping and useless’ conversations.
6. Not sure what you are to do today
7. Diffidence or incompetence about the work undertaken
8. Shift interest to unimportant works
9. No regularity: sleep late, get up late etc
B. Know your present work habits (Give time to write down individually their work habits)
Note your own tendencies in using your time. Set up many hypotheses about the use of your time. Select the main ones and check them in your daily life for a week:
C. Know Your Type
Do you work better in the morning or in the evening ? What are your productive hours? Shape your day around them. Make the best of your biological clock?
Are you an intensive or extensive type of a worker? Do you work in short spurts with high concentration with high productivity? Or do you work slow and steady and take long time to complete a task? Intensive worker needs more breaks than the extensive one.
Do you require people around you or are you task-oriented ? People oriented types like work that makes them in contact with people. Task-oriented people do better with tasks that involve less contact with people.
Are you compulsive type or the laid-back type ? Compulsive type over works and does not relax. He needs to learn to delegate tasks and prioritize. The laid-back type should discipline himself and guard against procrastination and piling-up of work. He is easily diverted by distraction and tends to be less productive. He needs to exercise will power and self-control to continue work when diversions come along by setting up deadlines for each part of the job.
Are you diffusion style or focused style manager/leader? Diffusion style leader works at several projects at once. They get stifled, if forced to take up only one project at a time. They should plan step by step for each project and check progress at intervals. Focused style leaders become totally involved and dedicated to one project till its completion. He needs to choose the most important work and delegate others to his collaborators.
(After explaining the above styles ask the group to share how they find these observations valid for their life)
If you do not know where your time goes, you are definitely not time-efficient. Do you have a sense of time or a time log which helps you to keep track of how you spend your day? Now Estimate where and how much you engage your time. Think of the last one week and make a chart:
A. Identify the following:
- Those things that do not need to be done at all
- Those things that could be done by somebody else.
- Those things that you alone can carry out in your role.
- Time of others you might be wasting
- Important leverage opportunities deserving more of your time
- Where you must exert more self-discipline
- Do you attempt more than is possible?
Discussion: Is it true that:
“The harder you work, the more you get things done”?
“The more active a leader is, the better will be his results” ?
“There is time for everything”?
The above statements are not true. It is important to work intelligently and in a planned way.
“Enough time for what?” What is important and urgent to do now? What really needs doing now? Is what you are working on now is the most important task.
Personal work: study, letters
(Give time to participants to prepare their time chart individually)
Now you can work at yourself by making use of your strengths and handling your weaknesses in spending time. Learn to handle your unhealthy habits. What is the meaning of the proverb “The strength of a chain is the strength of its weakest link” in this context?
Time management requires self-control
Self-Control requires planning
Planning requires setting priorities
Priorities can be set only in terms of goals
A.Check out on Indecision
Indecision is a decision not to decide! You can correct a wrong decision, but you can’t do a thing about non-decision.
B. Set priorities:
Two criteria to set priorities:
- Does it have long range importance or, where do I want to go in the long run?
- Does it have short range urgency? Does it require immediate action?
The 80/20 rule of Vilfredo Pareto
A vital few activities (20%) will produce the majority (80%) of the results
Ask yourself: Which activities belong to the 20% vita! activities of my ministry? Do I spend more time on activities that produce less results?
Concentrate on the impact areas- those 20% of things that give you 80% of the results
Explain the Pareto principle with examples from life. For example, in the vegetable garden the students prepared everything and planted a poor quality tomato seeds. After much hard work and waiting they got very small tomatoes. Selection of the seed is an activity that affects the result more than most other actions in vegetable garden. In formation what are those 20% activities that produce 80% results in becoming good Claretians? Discuss.
C. Planning: (Action plan)
Plan, Plan, Plan!
Failing to plan is planning to fail
Action without thought is same as Ready-Fire-Aim
If you want to succeed: Ready-Aim-Fire
Prioritize…. Prioritize….. Prioritize!!!!
1. Organize yourself:
A good decision requires some time be spent carefully on various factors, the chances of success or failure etc. Good results do not happen accidentally, but due to intelligent planning. It is the same with time management. A personal organization system is a must to be a successful person in your ministry as well as personal life.
i. setting goals for ourselves. Consider your short term and long-term goals while you plan your time.
ii. Write your key roles as teacher, formator, leader of group, companion etc.
iii. Have a weekly plan for each role which you ought to accomplish. Weekly plan provides greater balance and context than planning on a daily basis. A week is a single complete unit of time and scheduling priorities is easier done. In a weekly planning you can set aside time for recreation, exercise, and various other activities.
iv. Translate each goal into a particular day of the week in accordance with the requirements. Daily planning is like daily adaptation in response to the situation and prioritising the activities of the day.
v. Next draw a ,monthly plan. Impending crises, unexpected demands on your work could be fitted in the schedule.
vi. A Six-month, one year, three year plan makes you dynamic, in charge of your career and personal life.
2. Stick to your schedule and evaluate:
Any plan is worthless if you don’t stick to it. Allocate appropriate time to each task. Review your schedule each morning to ascertain how much you have accomplished. It will also help you to fit in the unanticipated factors that call for your attention. Set time for weekly and quarterly evaluation. Evaluation will allow you to gauge and follow up your progress and do the timely adaptation.
Enemies of planning
If you find it difficult to maintain a schedule and stick to it, you need to assess your strengths and weakness. Procrastination is the first enemy of planned life. You avoid the tension of taking decisions, but with it you avoid life too. Deferring, postponing, putting of decisions becomes a habit difficult to break.
When you decide on something, you are giving up all other possibilities. It causes “post-decisional sadness”. For example, after taking a decision you worry about giving up the other alternatives. Some people avoid this tension and sadness of giving up possibilities by not deciding at all.
– Failure to set objectives & priorities
– Allowing interruptions
– Waiting for all facts before we decide
Exercise: What are some of the common activities that seminarians tend to postpone? Groups make a list of them.
Delegate, Delegate, Delegate!
- Do nothing that you can effectively delegate when you have more important functions to fulfil in your responsibility. Delegating gets others involved in your mission and gets more things done.
- Give up do-it- yourself policy. A person who does everything himself to get results is a fool.
- Delegation multiplies results within a short span of time.
- Transferring responsibility gives you more time and energy for the activities that cannot be easily delegated. For example, a superior can delegate to another the duty of accompanying a guest around the premises. But He himself has to write the report of the community to the provincial.
How to delegate?
* give clear instructions * prioritize * set deadlines
- Agree on what is to be achieved or done.
- Manage by exception: have your delegate ask for you only when things in the delegated matter are not going according to the objective. Respect the principle of subsidiarity in delegating.
Do you allow interruptions? Why?
Do you have too little time or too many interruptions?
Some causes of interruptions from yourself:
- A false self image on the assumption that only I can answer their questions. Pretending to be almighty with a stock advice for everyone on all occasions. Assumed role of the saviour of everyone around. Obsession to fix everybody’s problems.
- Fear of offending. “If I express my lack of availability now, the other may be offended”.
- desire to appear available: “Call me or drop in any time”.
- Good guy syndrome: “You can count on me to help anytime”
– When you stop something to do something else which is not important, you are interrupting yourself. It takes more time to familiarize yourself with the task than to finish in the first place.
IV. Some tips:
- 80% of your mail and paper work can be handled and disposed of the first time. Usually only 20% is taken care off by most people instantly.
- Put a check mark on the paper right hand corner every time you handle a paper. This will show how many time you look at the same thing without taking action.
- If your time budgeting is unrealistic, correct it when you assess your successive failures.
- If you are a procrastinator, you need to be more firm with yourself. If you are ‘conscientious’ workaholic, you need to stop pushing yourself too much
- If you tend to allow many interruptions, find out a quiet hour of planned unavailability. Shut your door, allow no interruptions, think and plan.
- A neat, clean, well organized office can have a profound effect on how quickly and well things get done.
- A workable filing system is a must in any organized activity. Maintain a proper filing system which enable quick retrieval, accuracy, minimum effort, and easy accessibility.
- Have a place for everything so that you don’t have to waste precious seconds searching for paper clips, staplers, pens , memo pads etc.
- Handle a paper or memo only once. Don’t put it aside or it may be lost.
- Comment directly 011 the paper whenever possible.
- Keep a ‘procrastination’ drawer where you can store papers till they need to be worked on. But don’t procrastinate working 0n them. Devote an hour every week to it.
- Clear your table at the end of the day. It is the surest way to get cracking on tomorrow’s work.
- Don’t waste time brooding over past failures and mistakes. It is self-defeating.
- Don’t take decisions under emotional stress. It may lead to foolish, impu1sive decisions contrary to long term goals.
- Take corrective, firm and prompt action with lazy collaborators/subordinates. Don’t wait for a better time, or you will end up paying for it.
- Don’t neglect your health and personal life.
How to say ‘No’ without offending
Most people find it impossible to say “No” even though they know they would be simply wasting their time for fear of offending others. The inability to say “No” leads you to activities which you don’t respect yourself for doing. By allowing others to exploit you all the time, you build up resentments in you. You can learn to say ‘No’ when it is needed. Some tips:
Certain emergencies and crisis situations may arise due to circumstances beyond your control. Stressed situations can be avoided by certain preventive measures.
- Reduce working hours, do not skip meals, take more time for prayer and relaxation Review progress of any task at every stage so that any crisis could be anticipated and handled at once.
- Do not over crowd your schedule with too many activities. Always provide time for reflection and thinking.
- Never cover up an approaching crisis. Never hide it or run away from it. If you avoid, consequences could be worse.
- Alternate solutions. Anticipate problems that may arise and the ways to deal with them
- React positively to a crisis instead of pressing the panic button and get worked up emotionally. Consult your interiority in prayer and take the matter to your superiors, guides etc. to gather courage to face difficulties.
- Think calmly and formulate a plan of action to handle the situation.
There are four types of activities. Your success depends on your capacity to discriminate and attend to those that give you best results.
Type of activities
Too many people focus only on ‘A’ where the crises grow bigger and bigger and knock down the person. To get relief , thev turn to “D” or “B” paying no attention to ‘C’ activities. ‘C’ activities have a tremendous impact on success. Those who stay off ‘B’ and ‘D’ and cut down ‘A’ to size by spending more time on ‘C’ are effective persons.
Urgent and important
Urgent and not important
Not urgent, but important
Not urgent not important
Discussion in groups: What are the “C” activities in your current stage of formation? How can you effectively take care of them?
It is by attempting to reach the top at a single leap that so much misery is caused in the world.-William Cobbett
Waking up this morning, I smile. Twenty-four brand new hours are before me. I vow to live fully in each moment and to look at all beings with eyes of compassion. – Thich Nhat Hanh
– Paper prepared by Mathew cmf.