Good time management is a topic that I constantly revisit. For one very simple reason – it is so important. Poor time management is the cause of a multitude of imbalances that add up to a misalignment of our daily affairs – making everything in our world out of whack and more difficult to accomplish.
Price We Pay for Ignoring the Value of Time –
When we let time slip away from us we become more confused, stressed out, pressured, we suffer from sleep deprivation and, of course exhaustion, not to mention, a whole host of other factors that create absolute havoc in our lives.
Evaluate and Re-Access –
In order for us to have a better grasp on the time and to better utilize our resources we have to get a grip on how we use time and for exactly what purposes. Basically, we have to budget the time we do have by considering what it is that we are trying to accomplish and making those things our top priorities. We have to take a look at what we are currently doing that is letting time slip through our fingers and revamp our systems so that they work for us not against us.
Stepping Back to Move Forward –
One of the things that certainly can make time management so difficult is that there are so many ways we can waste it by just squandering it away but, in fact, we are the only ones that do have control of the things that vie for our time and our attention. In the book: “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Managing Your Time” the author, Jeff Davidson suggests that if we want to be more prudent about time we become our own time consultants. He states, that by asking ourselves in the third person, the simple question – What should he or she do next? We get a different set of answers than if we were to pose the same question directly to ourselves. Davidson claims this is because there is a semantic shift when we fill the role of observer rather than the traditional one of participant. Another recommendation he makes is to pretend that a coach is right here with us assisting us to create new systems that will result in the better allocation of our time and our resources.
To become a third-party observer we have to take special measures, the first of which is to be honest with ourselves. We have to step back to catch our breath and to temporarily re-evaluate our situation so that we can determine where it is that we are coming up short on time and why this is indeed – happening – repeatedly!
Precautionary Measures to Preserve Time –
Sometimes arranging for more time means that we have to create a time-line for ourselves and announce to all the time-bandits in our lives that we intend to meet it. By doing this we establish boundaries by still supporting the goals of others just not falling into the time trap of squandering away minutes or hours on the objectives others have set for themselves.
A Magic Formula That Works –
As previously stated good time management does not occur on its own. There is a formula that we can use that will help to bring it about. It is a three part strategy that allows us to lay the groundwork for a better and more efficient lifestyle one that will give us greater enjoyment because we can plan for it. The formula is based on three weekly priorities: (1) elimination of items in our life we no longer require (2) categorizing what we do need (3) the organization of these things in a manner that makes their use more efficient and our day-to-day existence one of greater ease. To utilize the magic formula we have to think in terms of project management.
Gaining Clarity in 15 Minute Increments –
One of my parent’s favorite sayings was “She cannot see the forest through the trees.” In my estimation the best place to start is with the “The 15 Minute Elimination Exercise.” It is a major piece of the time project management process. This exercise moves along very quickly because you set a kitchen timer for fifteen minute increments and then, proceed to get rapidly rid of as much of the clutter as possible in this brief frame of time.
Gaming out the task, by making it more fun and by making it more of a personal challenge is a great way to accomplish what you set out to do. It is not so difficult to rummage through and sort out our papers or obscure objects that we no longer value when we go at the chore in this manner. This fifteen minute exercise not only takes away the overwhelming feelings that we encounter when we start to imagine what it will cost us in energy and time to emotionally confront all the untidiness and items we have accumulated so that we can begin to envision how we can manage to proceed. Once we gain better clarity about how we are going to go about doing it all that is left is to take action. We can set the timer, do the work, see the outcome of our efforts and repeat the process as many times as is required and voila – project gets completed as planned.
Procrastination – Behavior Modifiers –
The nature of time is that if we do not schedule it we are at risk of squandering it. Procrastination is one of the main reasons why we lose track of our time – not knowing where it goes or how we spend it. Regina Leeds, author of the book: “One Year to An Organized Work Life” recommends, writing a list of all the things that procrastination has cost us. Procrastination occurs because of boredom, because we fear we will not be able to handle the challenge of a task (perfection anxiety) so we delay. Avoiding procrastination by learning to record where your time goes and identifying your typical time wasters really works. In taking these precautionary measures it will help us solve the mystery of where time goes and how we can better succeed at scheduling it.
I believe in completing tasks that I have taken the time out to plan for and to schedule for myself because every time I do, I build up my confidence, making it easier the next time to adhere to good time management. Working through a situation that I have agreed to take on and adding it to my list of accomplishments regardless of the size or its overall importance, is an indicator to me and, to others present in my life, that I am capable of managing myself and my world. This is a realization that can be very powerful!
Banishing Old Beliefs –
We can always acknowledge that we are not balancing our time properly or, getting the result we want from the minutes and the hours of our day. We can gain greater insights as to the value of time if we work and solving the mystery of where it is going. We can eliminate the excess in our lives and work toward being better organizers but… at the end of the day, good time management is more a result of diligence and follow-through. We have to see ourselves as good time mangers to believe we really can be. This mindset is imperative to time mastery. Everything we are and everything we do that pertains to the use of time and how we schedule it and execute it is up to us. We can support the good use time or we can undermine our efforts to management by not believing we can make it our closest collaborator. It’s really our judgment call.
What is the best time management tip you have ever heard?