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I decided to write about time management for this post because it seems to be something that many people grapple with. We all have so much to do whether you’re a busy professional, a student, or in job search. Being in job search is a job in of itself if not even more demanding.
One of the ways you can effectively manage your time is with goal setting. I wrote about goals in my previous post. Having a buddy system can keep you accountable for the things you have to do. Let them know what your short term or long term goal is.
Get organized. Clean up the clutter around your desk, office, house. These are distractions, you want to eliminate distractions. This also includes TV, email, video games etc. One needs to focus on the tasks they have that are on the list. It’s important to do, that is why it’s on there so eliminate the “stuff” that is going to make you lose focus.
Block out time on your calendar to do certain things. Maybe it is only checking email at certain times a day or put your cell phone away and on silent and only check it at a specific time (this is another distraction).
Take time to check in with yourself mentally each day for 10 minutes. Close your eyes and unplug from what you are doing. Are you on track with what is on your list. Where are you in what you want to get done? Take additional 30 minutes a week to do the same thing to reflect on what you have accomplished that week and what you still want to do.
The last key point to make in time management is an exercise I learned a few years ago. We all have a lot on our plate with things we need to do or want to do. Imagine a clear container, a large rock, some pebbles, and some sand. If you put the rock in the container first followed by the pebbles then put the pebbles in the container, they fall around the rock. Lastly, add enough sand so that the container is filled to the top. Putting these items in the container in this order, everything fits perfectly but if you remove the items from the container and put them back in the container in any other order, your container will overflow. These items represent the things you need to do in your day (your list). Imagine the tough items to do on your list as big rocks, do them first. Then the rest will be easier to do, they fall into place. If you don’t, you’re throwing your day out of balance causing your container to overflow.
Let’s talk about setting goals as it applies to professional development. Setting goals is like having the light at the end of a tunnel. They give you a target to aim for. Once you have hit your target you can celebrate your successes. I’ll break down the most effective way to set a goal with what is called a SMART goal.
SMART Goals are:
Specific – As in what is the specific action.
Measurable – Can it be measured? Completed a self-study coarse? Took a test? Got certified in something etc.
Aligned – Is it relevant to what you want to achieve?
Realistic – Is it feasible? It’s great to have ambitious goals but make sure they are something that you can manage and then celebrate when you achieve them.
Time Bound – Set an end date. For example I will have read my book by the end of the month.
In order to set a goal it is helpful to take inventory of one’s self and really know one’s self. What is it that makes you want to achieve this? Is it to be financially secure? Is it to gain credibility or additional knowledge in a particular field? Or is it to accomplish something you’ve wanted for years and you have yet to do it? It’s about one’s mindset. Where are you right now mentally? While you’re reading this blog what else is going on in your head? If you’re like me you have a lot of different thoughts and ideas racing around all at the same time. Sometimes you just need to slow the >insert expletive here< down, clear your thoughts. What does success look like to you? An exercise you can try is to make a success collage. Grab images from magazines or whatever you have available and select the images that represent your goal or the success of that goal. What do you see? What stands out to you? Sometimes having this visual representation in front of you can bring some clarity to what you need to look at closer. What is your short-term goal? What is your long-term goal? If your goal is a big one try breaking it down in parts or different stages.
What are your relevant skills that you can apply to reach you goal? If your goal is to go into sales, can you sell? If your goal is design clothing, do you know graphic design? Be optimistic what are you good at? What are you strengths?
If your goal is land a position in a certain industry, what is going on in that particular industry now? If it is company specific, research the company. Have they just had a lay off or are they hiring? Do you know how well they are performing? Did you research the company? Do your homework: Google them, follow them on Twitter, check them out on LinkedIn.
What is your financial plan? How long do you have to meet your goal? Do you have the financial resources to meet the goal? If you’re making a transition in to a new industry it’s a good rule of thumb to have at least 6 months of salary saved in order to give you time unless you have other financial resources available.
Learn to be patient. One must be tolerant so as not to get frustrated and feel defeated. Stick to your plan. For every door that closes another one opens.
Have a support system. Look to your friends and family. Let them know what you are doing. Even have someone to keep you accountable and on track of your goal. Check in with them or give them a status of where you are in achieving what you set out to do. Having someone to keep you accountable is a very good way to keep you on track. I ran a marathon once. It took 6 months of training and it was one of the most painful experiences of my life. If I were in it alone I would have never finished the race. I had a team to keep me getting up at ungodly hours in the morning to train and keep me training. We were in it together. Even during the race I had friends that would not let me give up no matter how bad the pain got. They kept me on target, they wouldn’t let me quit, and I finished that marathon. It was difficult, painful, and took over 6 months to do it but now I can say I did it and I have my medal to show for it. Having a support system to keep you accountable is very helpful and they can give you feedback if they know if they know what you are trying to achieve they can even help introduce you to other people who can help you. This can be key. I’ll talk more about this “hidden job market” later.