Respecting Time

I once asked a Japanese acquaintance why being on time is such a prime importance for their culture. She answered, “Being on time means you respect the other person’s time.” It also got me thinking about how much do we respect our time as well to respect those of others.

I often complain that I have too much to do that I tend to get distracted and not get anything done. In order to better assess how I manage my time, I took a quick quiz from Mind Tools on “How Good is Your Time Management?”, and the results validates my current time management practices. I do have a lot of room to improve, I hope I don’t procrastinate! Hehe.

I got a mid-score and here’s what it meant:

“You’re good at some things, but there’s room for improvement elsewhere. Focus on the serious issues below, and you’ll most likely find that work becomes much less stressful.”(See more through this link)

I’m re-posting some of my results from Mind Tools here, so I’ll be reminded of it most of the time. Mind Tools have more tips and resources that you can use, so I recommended that you take the quiz and visit their resources through this link.

Goal Setting

Your score is 11 out of 20   

To start managing time effectively, you need to set goals. When you know where you’re going, you can then figure out what exactly needs to be done, in what order. Without proper goal setting, you’ll fritter your time away on a confusion of conflicting priorities.

People tend to neglect goal setting because it requires time and effort. What they fail to consider is that a little time and effort put in now saves an enormous amount of time, effort and frustration in the future. 

This is true. Usually at work, we are required to have a plan and I usually have a task list that I take a look up at when I get to the office, or when I shake myself awake while preparing for work. I usually mentally go over my task list to prep my thoughts up. But when it comes to personal projects or undertaking (like school) and my day-to-day tasks at home, I don’t really plan. I tend to rush to do things and lost steam midway. I do make efforts to set goals. But sometimes I lose track. I need to set these goals down on paper, so I don’t forget. (I will do it now before I forget and procrastinate!)


Your score is 21 out of 35   

Prioritizing what needs to be done is especially important. Without it, you may work very hard, but you won’t be achieving the results you desire because what you are working on is not of strategic importance.

Most people have a “to-do” list of some sort. The problem with many of these lists is they are just a collection of things that need to get done. There is no rhyme or reason to the list and, because of this, the work they do is just as unstructured. So how do you work on To Do List tasks – top down, bottom up, easiest to hardest?

To work efficiently you need to work on the most important, highest value tasks. This way you won’t get caught scrambling to get something critical done as the deadline approaches. 

I don’t compromise my time with my family and they are always the first priority. But at work, everything is urgent and a priority, I need to prioritize my priorities! I do tend to work on the easiest most of the time, which is not usually advisable. Though I try as I can to work on the hardest tasks in the morning when I’m not so tired and my mind is still fresh.

Managing Interruptions

Your score is 8 out of 20   

Having a plan and knowing how to prioritize it is one thing. The next issue is knowing what to do to minimize the interruptions you face during your day. It is widely recognized that managers get very little uninterrupted time to work on their priority tasks. There are phone calls, information requests, questions from employees, and a whole host of events that crop up unexpectedly. Some do need to be dealt with immediately, but others need to be managed. 

However, some jobs need you to be available for people when they need help – interruption is a natural and necessary part of life. Here, do what you sensibly can to minimize it, but make sure you don’t scare people away from interrupting you when they should.

I can’t seem to avoid interruptions at work, especially when the boss wants to get some tasks done right away on top of all other tasks that are screaming for attention. As I’ve mentioned in the previous paragraphs, I need to prioritize which of the priorities tasks is the most important! Sometimes when I lose track because of so many interruptions, I zone out.


Your score is 4 out of 15   

“I’ll get to it later” has led to the downfall of many a good employee. After too many “laters” the work piles up so high that any task seems insurmountable. Procrastination is as tempting as it is deadly. The best way to beat it is to recognize that you do indeed procrastinate. Then you need to figure out why. Perhaps you are afraid of failing? (And some people are actually afraid of success!)

Once you know why you procrastinate then you can plan to get out of the habit. Reward yourself for getting jobs done, and remind yourself regularly of the horrible consequences of not doing those boring tasks! 

I procrastinate as a result of zoning out when everything tends to be overwhelming. Sometimes my excuse for procrastination is that I am still processing the task. Or that I work best under pressure. But whatever it is, there is no good excuse and procrastinating  never fails to get me in trouble.


Your score is 7 out of 15   

Much of time management comes down to effective scheduling of your time. When you know what your goals and priorities are, you then need to know how to go about creating a schedule that keeps you on track, and protects you from stress.

This means understanding the factors that affect the time you have available for work. You not only have to schedule priority tasks, you have to leave room for interruptions, and contingency time for those unexpected events that otherwise wreak chaos with your schedule. By creating a robust schedule that reflects your priorities and well as supports your personal goals, you have a winning combination: One that will allow you to control your time and keep your life in balance. “

I am not really a good scheduler. But if I am successful in goal-setting and prioritizing, I could very well manage my time. How well I manage my time would show how much I value it and that of other people. And when other people see how much I value my time, they’ll value my time and their own as well. I better get into the habit of it then. 😀


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