Zen of Time Management

Time is an alias for life, isn’t it?

If you say you spent four years learning Engineering, it implies that you devoted four years of your life to learning Engineering that you will never get back.

Time is an irreplaceable resource. Effective use of Time increases your effectiveness and improves your life’s quality.

Here are a few steps to help you with your time management:


  • Observe how you spend time daily. Keep track of all the significant activities that attract your time and attention. Do this for at least 15 days and see the pattern.
  • Visualize and set up your ideal daily routine and develop a habit of setting priorities for the year/month/week/day. Then spend time on high-priority items and leave low-priority items at bay.
  • Identify the time-stealers and adopt Anti-time-stealing techniques to deal effectively with the time-stealers:

A2Z of Anti-time-stealing methods is as below:

a. Break down the projects into smaller chunks of tasks. Remember, you can effectively eat an elephant one piece at a time.

b. Understand and work on your top three MITs (most important tasks). To understand MITs, you must learn to set up goals and be clear about how achieving the set goals will make you happier.

c. If you are like most people, you work in a team, so what if you remember your goals, but your team doesn’t? Remind them and align them such that for every team member, your goal becomes an important goal.

d. Delegate whatever you can. Identify the common pattern of tasks. While delegating, make sure that you have set specific expectations along with clear acceptance criteria.

e. Discuss time-saving ideas with others. Not surprisingly, you will find a few more ideas you would not have known. Use the ones that serve you.

f. Make sure that you and everyone on your team respect the deadlines as if it were a criminal offense to miss a deadline. How about setting up a culture where “beating the deadline” is respected more than anything else?

g. Organize yourself to accomplish a thing from start to end. Don’t fragment your time.

h. Reserve a day of quiet time for yourself in a week. Use “Do not disturb” signs for uninterrupted work. If you can, turn off Notifications on your mobile/tablet device. They distract more than people!

i. Effectively use secretaries or assistants to screen out time stealers. How about keeping a habit of checking Facebook only 15 mins a week?

j. Consolidate email, chat, and telephone time. Set a fixed time for answering the calls, answering your emails, and responding to Text/WhatsApp messages. Keeping Skype, Google Talk, or any other Chat window open with an “Available” status is not productive.

k. Eat that Frog! Don’t put off unpleasant tasks. Work on the most unpleasant tasks first. They are the ones you are avoiding because you are afraid (of something you know in your gut!)

l. Use your idle time to improve your skills and character. Reading books, listening to inspirational audio, and watching YouTube are some of the proper uses of your idle time.

m. Reduce Alcohol Eliminate alcohol from your weekdays if you can. If you cannot, then maybe a small glass of wine is okay, but no more.

n. Understand that working from home is no brainier; in most cases, most people find it difficult to manage because of the usual distractions

o. Don’t chase perfection. Perfection is a perception, and often, perfect from a perspective won’t be perfect from others.

p. Use your prime time for the MIT. For many people, their prime time is the morning time when they are fresh. Whatever it is, use it to carry out your most important tasks.

q. Make a habit of keeping a capture tool to capture your great ideas and save them for later use.

r. Follow the 80/20 rule. Plan for 20 percent of your time to act effectively for the rest of 80%. It’s known as the Pareto Principle also.

s. Audit your Time Record. Observe your time-spending pattern and see if you need to make a change. (Hint: 9/10 people would want to!)

t. Be clear about WHY and then focus on What. In most cases, focusing on “how” is not necessary and leads to micromanagement which eats up your time.

u. Wake up one hour early than your usual wake-up time. If you wake up one hour early and work on your MITs, you will get more done in less time.

v. If you travel to your workplace by public transport, use that time to work on trivial stuff so you don’t need to work on them during the daytime.

w. Consider how many OTPs you are getting on your mobile for which you must be a postman. Consider changing the mobile no used for such SMS to someone else’s.

x. Don’t participate in all the meetings. We all get a lot of requests to attend the meetings in which we don’t have to play any significant role other than being a spectator. Avoid participating in such meetings.

y. Hire competent people. If you hire less qualified people, so you have to pay lower salaries, you will teach them a lot and discover that they will move on after learning from you. Waste of time. Consider hiring a less number of people but able ones.

z. Consider creating a simple system for all the repetitive tasks. And consider automating as much as you can.

The above A-Z is not a complete list of anti-time-stealing methods. Still, I hope they will provide you with intending to look at your behaviors critically from the time-management perspective and implement the zen of time management in your life and work.