Teach Yourself Time Management

Blog | People Skills Development

What’s it all about?

Well as the cover and title of the book may suggest, it is a practical, informative guide on how best to increase your time efficiency and improve your time management. Bird splits her guide into 12 chapters covering everything from your personal goals and priorities to the process of sharing this knowledge through time management training.

Patience and Discipline – these are the two attributes most needed through the process of learning to manage your time. Bird stresses that changing habits in order to become more effective with your time will not happen overnight nor without noting down your movements at the beginning, which can later be analysed to show your “time wasting”.

  1. Personal Priorities and Goals – Bird encourages readers to take some time to sit, think and write down all their goals in life, think of what is important to them and how would they like to change. A good example is “I’d like to spend more time with my family. Once that is complete, think about HOW you are going to achieve that e.g. “I will make sure I leave the office at 5 o’clock so I am home in time to read to the children and put them to bed.”
  2. Knowing how much time you have – Keeping a time log will help you to understand how much of your time is useful and highlights areas you could cut out. For example, Tom has his breakfast and then sits with a cup of coffee and the paper for 15 minutes. Instead of that, Tom could take his coffee in a portable cup and read his paper on the train. Thus, he now has 20 extra minutes of time to be productive.
  3. Planning your time – Whether you use your phone calendar, your laptop calendar or a traditional paper diary Always Plan Your Time. This way we avoid those awkward double bookings resulting from jotting dates down on scraps of paper. By keeping dates and times in your diary, you will be able to make sure your time is organised and stress-free.
  4. How to use your “transition time” effectively – This is all about using travel time and “dead time” during your day. If your travel to work on public transport, you could catch up on some emails and cut down on coffee breaks, using it to organise some paperwork instead. These small and simple changes can make you realise how unproductive some parts of your day are.
  5. Conquering Procrastination ­ – This is where Bird’s attribute of discipline proves to be the most important. She engrains into the reader’s mind “If you don’t start, you can’t finish”. This encourages readers to be proactive in their decisions regarding projects, emails, drafts etc.
  6. Being able to say “no” – As much as we like to please people, learning to say no to everyone including your boss, is an important skill to have. Bird suggests the technique of turning refusals into acceptances. For example, you cannot meet your friend at the pub tonight because you have a presentation due tomorrow, so you say to them, “I can’t meet you tonight, but shall we go Friday night?”. You have rightly prioritised work but have also shown your desire to see your friend.
  7. Subdue your phone – Phones are incredibly useful but distracting. Once again discipline is a way to put your phone away and concentrate on your work. When taking calls, make them brief and jot down any messages or notes that are important. Being able to efficiently handle phone calls is imperative in a busy work environment.
  8. Master your meetings – Decide which meetings are important and which are wasted. The ones you attend should be followed up, check the progress on projects or presentations. If they have not been started, find out why. Is more information needed or do they need advice on where to start?
  9. The art of delegation – Being able to decide whether a piece of work needs your attention or can be delegated to a colleague can be decided through Bird’s table of importance and urgency. If it is both important and urgent, complete the piece yourself now. If it is important but not urgent, schedule it for later. If it is unimportant but urgent, delegate it! And if it is both unimportant and non-urgent, why do it?
  10. Time management training – Time management is a great skill, but it is no use to you working effectively if the rest of your team do not. Encourage them to evaluate their phone time, transition time and their priorities in life. Becoming an effective team together will create strong and valued relationships that will provide stability in times of crisis.

How did this book impact me?

This book empowered me to re-evaluate how I spend my time and be realistic about how productive a particular activity is.  As someone entering the world of fast-paced business, this book was advantageous to me in terms of changing and creating habits early on. By following the advice of Bird, I can put myself in a fantastic position when in work environments.

This guide kickstarts personal development for any who reads it, encouraging you to make positive changes in your life that will benefit you mentally and physically. However, these changes come at a price: effort, patience and discipline. You must be willing to sit down and take the time to understand and implement the techniques in order to get the best possible results. For those who are constantly feeling overwhelmed by work and are unable to balance their time, this book is a must-read. The consequences of integrating these techniques can only be positive.

Any limitations to this book?

The one thing to say about this book is that, whilst being incredibly informative and useful, you need ample time to read it, concentrate on the theories and reflect on them afterwards. It is the only way to retain the knowledge and techniques contained within the guide.

About the Author

Polly Bird is a prolific professional writer of several guides like Time Management. During the past 20 years that she has been a professional author she has also raised a family, run a home, been a campaigner, successfully studied part-time for a PhD and become a bookbinder, so her strategies are tried and tested!