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Matthias, a Creative Writing masters student at Brunel, offers some practical advice on how to juggle everything on your 'to-do' list.
Time management: awful term. The kind I’d hear in a board meeting (and I’m not a big fan of those). “Stocks are down and we need more money so Blah Blah-Blah-Blah Incorporated can stay in business. In order to do this, we will be implementing a four-step plan. The first step: Time Management. No employee of this company will see daylight until stocks are back up!”
You get the idea. Except, you don’t.
Cast aside the joke about board meetings, time management isn’t just a business term. I used to make a false dichotomy between ‘business’ things and ‘artistic’ things, which I respectively found ‘boring’ and ‘fun’. I fancied myself artistically inclined than business-minded, and to an extent, I still fall into this trap. Even writing about time management seems to be a waste of time in and of itself.
But it isn’t.
You and everyone you know is a time manager to some extent. Whether or not they’re a good one is another story.
It’s your attitude to time management that determines whether or not you’ll come home from work to only an hour’s Netflix break because you have to go back tomorrow; whether you’ll blow the whole night off on a Netflix binge because tomorrow is free for you; whether you’ll skip the binge for an evening out with the friends you haven’t seen in over a month; or whether indeed you’ll do anything else.
The notion of time management does sounds a bit complicated, but I’d like to suggest that it can all be boiled down to one concept: priorities. Better still, a question: what are mine?
Answering this is usually simple but rarely easy. It’s usually simple because you usually know why the tasks you do a day, month or year, matter to you. It’s rarely easy because saying ‘yes’ to one thing usually means saying ‘no’ to three others, and who in 2016 wants to say ‘no’ to things they like?
As a Christian, the prompting of the Holy Spirit can make this even more interesting. In my ongoing experience, I can put down my plans for the day, week and even for the month. It’s almost always when I am so sure that I know what I’m doing that the Holy Spirit moves with one of the following:
Matthias, good plan, bad time to do it. Push it back.
Matthias, good plan, you’re leaving it too late. Do it today.
Matthias, you’re overstuffed your day. Take it easy.
And my favourite:
Matthias, get rid of all these plans. I’ve got a better idea.
It’s tricky, no doubt about it, and good luck making it easier. But here’s a practical suggestion on managing your time:
• Make a note of day-to-day tasks, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you forget
• Keep a note of the things that are genuinely time-bound (e.g. booked outings, holidays etc.) and the things which you want to do straight away but really can do anytime (e.g. Netflix)
• Keep your promises – first come first served, unless something of a higher priority comes up. If that does happen, tactfully say so
• If you make a plan that is open-ended, note it down anyway with a little note that this plan might fall through. But until it does fall through, you are booked
• Look after yourself – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health are all priorities
• Let your day-plans incorporate work and pleasure as appropriate. All work and no play makes Jill a dull girl, all play and no work makes Jack an irresponsible lad.
• If you’re like me and are restricted by super-rigid time structures, just make a note of the day or week that it needs to be done and see that you do it then
• Listen to the Holy Spirit – let your time be a gift to Him, and let Him take you on adventure with it (I’m still learning this one)
Happy time-managing adventures!