Article Date: 11/1/2011

Manage Your Most Valuable Resource
o.d. to o.d.

Manage Your Most Valuable Resource

Apply the same principles to time that you do to money management: Develop a budget and prioritize.

By Walter D. West, O.D., F.A.A.O.
Chief Optometric Editor

The first thing to understand about the process of time management is that your time is yours and yours alone. It's interesting. When you find yourself running out of money, you take steps to manage and protect it. Yet, your time is more often managed with much less intensity and criticality even though once it's been spent, it's gone forever, and there's no earning it back.

You know that time is a finite asset, just like money, and you should be applying the same principles to it as you do with your money. Do you have a time budget, or do you consider your time allocation, and have you thought about your future time needs?

Does multitasking work?

There are some tricks people have used that make them feel like they get more done. For instance, multitasking — many individuals and businesses encourage multitasking. Many believe multitasking can actually be accomplished and that it improves their efficiency and productivity (as well as the productivity of their employees.)

Multitasking is like a self-inflicted attention deficit disorder. You can't do two things at once, so you have difficulty staying on task. The bottom line is that you can do one thing well or try to do two things at once, and do neither well. It's not a matter of doing more things simultaneously. It's a matter of how you sequence the tasks, how you prioritize the tasks and how well you focus on what's important, as opposed to being distracted by things that you might think are urgent, easy to accomplish or fun to do.

Don't let the tasks rule you

Additionally, when you let your tasks begin to rule your life, you may find yourself feeling uneasy about those things that aren't getting done or about how much you still have to do. None of us can prioritize effectively when we're alarmed. Deciding a course of action on the fly can lead to mistakes that will take more time to correct later. Remember: A deep-sea diver who panics and heads for the surface too quickly gets the bends.

The secret of time management

Even though you may already be making a list, learning how to prioritize and doing a better job of saying no, you may still find yourself frustrated. It's then you know that you need a system. There are many systems on the market, and you will need to evaluate what is out there. During your research, you'll learn more about what's available and what best meets your needs. It's best to choose your time management technique first, and then the tool to support it rather than try to adapt your technique to the available tools.

One of the most important advantages of improving your time management skills and appreciating the value of your time is that you'll get your life back under control. All of a sudden, you'll be able to accomplish more in less time. You'll gain a better sense of what to delegate or perhaps eliminate from your to-do list altogether. OM

Optometric Management, Issue: November 2011