You have an internal image and an external image. Human tendency is to adjust the behavior in line with the internal or external image. Internally if you feel proud, this will reflect in your external behavior. Similarly if others expect you to behave in a particular way because of your image, you will be disappointing them if you do not act accordingly. Whenever you act out of tune with your image, there will be an urge for self correction.
Open a ‘Personal Integrity Account’ today. You operate this account just like you operate your bank account by putting a credit and debit and arriving at a balance. Every time you do an act, which you had promised, credit 10 points to your Personal Integrity Account. Whenever you do not do an activity which you had promised, debit 10 points. At the end of the day before going to bed add the credit points and the debit points and arrive at the balance. This is your Personal Integrity Account.
This simple practice will make a difference in your internal image and will result in self-correcting tendencies.
While working towards your goal, you may come across people who may not share your priorities. People may demand more than what you can offer. You may not get the support you need from others.
You may be an excellent person in terms of planning and scheduling your appointments and planning for a day. However, if you suffer from the inability to say ‘No’, all your plans may be unrealistic since you will not be able to handle interruptions.
Many people mistake the ability to say ‘No’ as equivalent to refusal. Ability to say ‘No’ actually refers to the most important and critical attribute of ‘assertiveness.’ Assertiveness means being honest to yourself and at the same time accepting others as they are. It is the ability to handle interruptions in such a way that you say ‘No’ to unreasonable and impossible request in such a way that even after saying ‘No’ you do not damage interpersonal relationship and maintain good rapport.
To be submissive is to surrender your rights and do not stand up for your own views. Aggressiveness means always wanting to win and not recognizing that others may also have legitimate rights of their own. Assertiveness falls into the category between submissiveness and aggressiveness. Just like any other skill, assertiveness can be developed.
Log you activities for a week and note down the time spent in commuting from one place to another. Find out how much time is spent in travelling in a day and project it for a month, a year and your lifetime. You will be surprised to find how many years go in travelling alone.
If you are travelling on an average 20 minutes each way to your place of work, in a career span of 25 years you are spending 312000 minutes calculated for 26 days per month. This in turn means 1.78 years in your lifetime. Think how much can be accomplished in 1.78 years!
Depending on your mode of travel, consider as to what you can do while travelling. If you are travelling in a group, consider your options such as discussing office matters, discussing business conditions, etc. consider your options of reading a newspaper or browsing a book. Consider whether you should read the newspaper at home or while travelling.
Ask yourself “what is the best possible use of my time right now?” Whatever comes to your mind apply it. However, do it tactfully.
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Time is valuable. Time once spent cannot come back. Many times we complain that we do not have time. But if you carefully analyze, you can find a lot of ‘hidden’ time. One such is waiting time.
There is no such thing as waiting time. Every quantity of time however small is a resource whether you are waiting for something or working. While waiting also, you are doing some activities either by design or by default. Just calculate on an average how much time you spend waiting for something is in a year and in your lifetime.
Assuming that on an average you spend about 45 minutes per day waiting for something or the other (bus, train, meeting, person, telephone call, etc.) You spend 1350 minutes in a month, which means 16200 minutes per year! If you take the active life span of any person as 50 years leaving out childhood days, you spend 810000 minutes in waiting which is 4.62 years! Just think how much you can accomplish in 4.62 years of time!!
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If you consider the cumulative effect of small talk, you will be surprised as to how many years gone in this not so important talk. Day in and day out we are dragged into some conversation which may not add value. These are rumors are so interesting that we are drawn into them.
If you carefully log your activities for a week and analyze the same, your conscious will put you back in your normal course. You will discover a chunk of time that could have been used for constructive purposes.
I am not suggesting that you should become entirely focused only on your goal-related activities. Life is full of opportunities and challenges. One of the challenges is to refocus your attention on the priorities on hand. The easiest thing is to blame others for taking away your valuable time. The difficult thing is to analyze as to what you could have done to prevent it.
While it is not advisable to carry office work to home nevertheless it might be a good idea to have a small work place in your home, where you can sit and think about some important issues.
Have your own work area. Have the necessary stationery such as stapler, pins, punching machines, notepads, pencils, erasers, etc. This becomes your ‘home office’. Either you can do your personal work or if necessary, think about some office work in this place.
Just like you have a dining room, a kitchen, drawing room, this will be your ‘work room’. All these facilities will help you over a period of time to accomplish your goals.
The way you are organized will decide how effective you could be in terms of turning out what you have to turn out to be successful in your career. Some work may call for a careful reading and thinking. You may not get an uninterrupted time in office to do this carefully. Another advantage of you ‘home office’ is that, you are not likely to be disturbed by your colleagues or by your boss.
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Moving is different from working. Our time is spent in doing various activities. Moving from one place to another consumes time. It can be a movement of the limb. Or it can be just the mind wandering! All these movements cost your valuable time.
If you ask an industrial engineer, he will tell you what is a value adding activity and what is a cost adding activity. Every movement should be a well considered and well planned move.
Wherever possible, use both of the hands. On the most occasions we use one hand only. Some of the Japanese management techniques stress the use of two hands.
Take a look at your work area. Does it make you do unnecessary movements such as bending, walking etc.? Consider how you can eliminate the same. Plan your work area in such a way that it is a ‘work station’. Decide where your filling cabinet and your side tray should be.
The pace of work is the speed with which you turn out your work. You can be slow or you can be fast. The context is the environment. The context will decide your content and the pace of work. If your pace of work is out of context, you are bound to miss something which you have created.
How fast you think you can work is not important. What is more important is how fast you have to be working. I recall an old story I read somewhere: A tortoise started moving from the backyard of a house and took a week’s time to reach the rear portion of the house. It walked further and took a week to come to the central hall of the house. After one more week of moving, it come to the central hall of the house. After one more week of moving, it came to the front portion of the house. Then it took one more week to come out of the house to the open area. As the tortoise came out of the house, the house collapsed. The tortoise was very happy and said: ‘Thank God, I came out very fast. If only I had taken more time what would happened to me!
Some of us are like that tortoise. We are oblivious of the demands on our time and we are under the illusion that we are already fast. It calls for a self introspection to find out whether our pace of work matches the external requirement.
Everyday you receive a lot of paper work. You may also receive a lot of e-mails. All this paper work, e-mails, other communications may require your attention. Some of them may need your attention a little later. Some of them may be junk. Your efficiency and effectiveness will depends upon how smart you are in dealing with these information flows. You can follow the four D’s principle: Dump, Delay, Delegate, Do.
Dump: It means you can dump it or destroy it since you do not require it. Follow the principle: “when in doubt throw it out!” Ask yourself: Do I need this information? If the answer is no, dump it!
Delay: Ask whether it can wait so that you can devote quality time for doing this. If the answer is ‘yes’, put it off, so that you can give your full attention later on.
Delegate: Ask if there is somebody in your department who can take care of this paper. If the answer is ‘yes’, delegate it. However, follow it up with the person to whom you delegate so that he does it.
Do: These papers require your immediate attention and you have to do it immediately.
This simple 4D principle will give you some clarity for sorting out your paper work.
One of the basic things for managing time is setting correct priorities. The word ‘priority’ may appear to be very simple but many people are confused in interpreting it. When you say something is a priority, it means that it needs your attention.
There are two critical parameters to decide the priority urgency and importance. When you say something is urgent, it means that there is a time context attached to it. Whenever a task has to be completed before a specific period, it means that it will become urgent as time passes.
When a job is important, it implies that it is relevant with reference to your goal. For example, the customer is important because the goal is to make profit and the customer is important because the goal is to make profit and the customer can make it happen. Qualifying for higher educational degree becomes important because it will help you to reach your career goal. Improving your skill inventory is important because it will help you to reach your goal without tension.
Based on the above, you can categorize your activities into four major areas:
Important and urgent – this is a crisis issues.
Important but not urgent – this is the planning area where you have time to accomplish what you have to.
Urgent but not important – this is an area where somebody else may be benefited through not important for you.
Not important and not urgent – this is called waste area where any time spent is waste of time because there is no useful outcome from this.