For personal growth, learn to overcome common time utilization problems and learn effective time management with the tools, systems, and skills in this article. An effective personal growth program will include a time management strategy, using time management systems and tools for effective time utilization.

Many lifestyle changes, such as beginning a personal development program, flounder and wither because the well-intentioned planner doesn’t allocate time to spend on personal growth activities.

Time Utilization

It might be more appropriate to replace the term time management with time utilization. With one’s lifetime of unknown duration, it makes sense to effectively utilize time to maximize desired life experiences. A lifetime will pass no matter how it is utilized.

Common Problems in Time Management and Utilization

Each of the following problems can result in ineffective time utilization. The personal growth graphic maker should evaluate each of these concerning her use of time.

  • Lack of Self-awareness – Lacking an overall awareness of time management and utilization. Failing to recognize where time is being spent.
  • Non-relevant Activities – Lacking self-awareness, activities not relevant to desired personal growth goals may dominate one’s time.
  • Time Wasters – Engaging in activities habitually, without consciously deciding whether the activities align with desired personal growth and desirable time utilization.
  • Interruptions: Interruptions disrupt continuity in thinking and often divert a person from the intended tasks occupying them before the interruption.
  • Lack of Priorities – Approaching each day without a to-do list, or having a daily to-do list where each activity is given equal priority fails to recognize that some activities are simply more important than others.
  • Perfectionism – Perfectionists commit too much time to activities attempting to achieve perfectionism in each.
  • Multi-tasking – Attempting to carry on several tasks simultaneously actually wastes time according to recent studies.

Time Management Strategy, Systems, and Skills

The following time management tools, systems, and skills will be a helpful ineffective use of the personal growth planner’s time.

  • Time and Activity Log – As with any lifestyle change, self-awareness is the first step in making a change. A fleeting feeling that time is being wasted may be the impetus to make a change, but to make an improvement one will need to know the activities that are occupying time; for this, a time and activity log will be useful.
  • Pareto’s Principle – Utilizing Pareto’s Principle helps the graphic maker utilize time to the best advantage. Pareto’s Principle states that eighty percent of any activity’s benefit arises from twenty percent of the effort. You’ve probably experienced this yourself—in any group, a small number of people contribute the most to the group’s goals. To apply this to your development plan, concentrate on a small number of activities that provide the greatest personal growth.
  • Prioritized To-Do List – Probably no one thing contributes to productivity as much as a well-structured to-do list. An effective to-do list will have the day’s activities listed in priority order and will be realistic in terms of what can be accomplished. Identifying one or two absolutely “must-complete” activities at the very top will assure that the most important things will be accomplished. Try this useful time management tool.
  • Fixed Times for Routine Activities – A study by Rescue Time of half a million PC-user hours found that 44% of their time was spent on instant messaging, e-mail, and social networking. Instead, establish fixed times for these activities, such as checking them twice each day, morning and afternoon.

More Time Management Tools

Busy people incorporating personal growth into their daily lives will appreciate these additional time management tools.

  • Minimize Phone Interruptions – Refrain from answering each phone call, instead of letting routine calls go to voice mail. Respond to voice mail twice a day, notifying co-workers and family of the schedule. Have family call a cell phone in emergencies and utilize caller-Id to be responsive to expected or important calls.
  • Quiet Times – Interruptions from visitors account for much loss of time. Those working in an office — including a home office — can establish “no-visitor” times, times when non-urgent visits are highly discouraged so that you and other co-workers can work without interruption.
  • One Task at a Time – Multi-tasking — splitting time among several activities — is often encouraged as a productivity tool. However, studies show that rather than increasing productivity, multi-tasking decreases both productivity and quality. Instead, focus on one activity at a time, completing it before moving on to the next priority on the to-do list. If interrupted, deal with the interruption and then immediately return to the activity underway when interrupted.
  • Say “No” – Learn to say no in a positive and caring way. Many people feel it is discourteous and unhelpful to refuse requests from others. However, taking on an unwanted activity can cause resentment and self-anger, as well as diverting you from the personal growth activities intended.

Be Productive and Mindful Too

Life isn’t all about accomplishing activities. Be mindful of the process of personal growth, enjoying and fully experiencing the process of learning, changing, and growing.

Use these time management tools and skills to accomplish desired life goals while allowing time for mindful meditation and enjoying the process of living spontaneously.