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How to Improve Your Time Management by Being More Assertive

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How to Improve Your Time Management by Being More Assertive

How to Improve Your Time Management by Being More Assertive

A post from our Time Management blog

      Written by Ashley Andrews
Assertiveness, praised in the workplace as it is, isn't a standalone quality.

It has a direct impact on many other markers of career and life success.

Would you, for example, have imagined that how assertive you are can influence how well you're able to manage your time?

Well, it absolutely can, and most of us would probably like to get a bit better at managing - and making the most of - our time. Because better time management skills set us up for a better day, month, year and beyond.

So here's how developing our skills of assertiveness can give us back our time; plus a host of other positive knock-ons.

How Assertiveness Helps Our Time Management

1.    We learn to say ‘No'

We're all occasionally guilty of setting ourselves up for a fall by taking on more than we can cope with - be it work-based tasks or social engagements.

We might feel that saying no to things makes us seem less competent in the eyes of our peers or close friends, but this is a misconception.

In reality, learning how and when to turn things down not only takes a load off our plate; in doing so, it means that we're able to perform our selected tasks and roles to a much higher standard and with a lot more energy, instead of underperforming because we're overwhelmed.

The beauty of learning to say no is that it gives us back autonomy, allowing us to allocate our attention carefully where we might otherwise drop the juggler's ball.

This applies not only to the workspace but to our personal lives too - where we might burn ourselves out by agreeing to every single invitation that comes our way. ‘Closing the door' on those invites that don't really matter to us gives us some all-important time to ourselves and, as a by-product, makes us much more pleasant to be around!

2.    We become better (and quicker) at making decisions 

A fundamental skill that assertiveness hones is the power of decision making. When we lack assertiveness, it can be easy to end the day without making any real decisions - having gotten nowhere on the list of tasks that we set out to accomplish.

Part of this is a lack of self-belief - feeling that our opinions and therefore our decisions aren't quite ‘worthy'.

But when we learn to be more assertive, we develop a confidence in ourselves and our decision-making abilities, directly and effectively communicating those decisions to our peers and loved ones. In doing so, we're saved from endless minutes - even hours - of procrastination and we have more time to do those things which are important.

3.    We're able to delegate better

Whether it's at work with subordinates, or at home with the partner and kids, there are always tasks that you can delegate to ease your own burden.

Unfortunately, being passive can often mean that you don't ask others to perform tasks, and you end up doing everything yourself.

Being assertive means that your subordinates will be performing the tasks that their skillsets allow that you have set them, and your children can attend to chores around the house, all leaving you time to focus on the more important issues, and dedicate time to those.

It's actually amazing how often you see a boss who is not acting assertively always looking flustered as they work flat out, yet their subordinates look relaxed, and if anything, underworked!

Now, we might find ourselves in a position of leadership (thanks to our amazing assertive qualities!), and this means that we're in charge of other peoples' time as well as our own.

In learning to delegate swiftly and effectively we ensure that we get the job done - whatever that ‘job' might be. Somebody else could do straight away what you would only be able to attend to in the future, so delegation often means tasks are completed that much sooner.

And remember: if we're responsible for a team that's struggling with its tasks, it will eventually end up impacting our time and, ultimately, our quality of life.

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4.    We're able to ask for help

Delegation is great if you can pass off an entire task to somebody, but sometimes you simply want help from somebody either doing a part of the job, or possibly to help you do something yourself in a better, more efficient way.

Passive people are more likely to struggle along themselves, which means that they take longer to do something, and maybe not at the level that the job could be done at.

In contrast, assertive people are confident enough to ask for help when needed, and this can make the job get done better, but also at a faster pace. Then you've got more time for other jobs again.

5.    It makes us better goal-setters

One of the things about assertiveness - or lack thereof - is that it influences our ability to think long-term. Without assertion, some of us might struggle to work out how we're going to get to the end of our Monday, let alone what we might like to have achieved in 6 months or five years.

Again, it comes down to a lack of confidence in our abilities, and a lack of self-belief in our ideas about what we want to do and what we deserve, or are capable of.

If we can't set short, medium and long-term goals for ourselves, it's almost impossible to manage our time effectively and, eventually, we might more or less give up trying. This can be a dangerous downward spiral; not only impacting us but our colleagues and our close friends and relatives. Developing these skills allows us to ‘think big'. Or small. Either way, it gives us back clarity and control.

6.    It makes us more productive

When we're able to clearly outline our goals and priorities for the days and weeks ahead, we're less likely to feel overwhelmed by the looming thought of "all the things" we have to do.

Without skills of assertion it can be pretty tough to get a handle on our priorities so that we can set such a plan in action and, more often than not, procrastination sets in.

Those who are good at decision making and have a confidence in their own thought process tend to be less ‘flappable' - meaning that stress and anxiety don't render them incapable of formulating a plan and sticking to it.

Those who are more assertive are found to be more productive due to their better time management skills and, therefore, more content in their daily lives.

7.    It gives us back our energy

When we're poor at managing our time, we probably don't realise just how much of a leech on our energy it is. But it's obvious really. We spend so much of our time rushing - to meetings because we've left the house too late and to deadlines because we've not been able to allocate proper time to getting work done - and this is absolutely exhausting, both physically and mentally.

Our sleep might end up suffering because we have so many ‘to do's' buzzing around in our heads, and this drains our energy and makes us lacklustre.

Then there's the inevitable stress that comes with poor time management, which even by itself is enough to make us struggle to get up in the morning. So by becoming more astute at decision making, planning and delegating, we're able to give ourselves back some time and repay some of the energy that we've been wasting.

Who wouldn't want to wake up feeling more refreshed and better fixed to deal with the day ahead?

In Conclusion

Acting in an assertive manner has an amazingly positive impact on your life. It helps re-energise, enable decision-making, set goals and priorities, say no, delegate, and ask for help.

These in turn then allow us to be spending the right amount of time on the jobs that need it, not doing the jobs that we can avoid, and seeing an increase in overall productivity.

So there you go, a way to improve your time management, that actually has very little to do with time management itself!

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