How do you want to Manage your Time when you can’t stop the world from Spinning?
Time management training is a popular topic. Often bosses will book their employees in for a time management workshop with the expectation that the facilitator will raise a magic wand, abracadabra, and done, all time management issues are resolved. The staff has been sorted and on we go, hoping that the magic has happened!
This couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s not the SMART acronym that’s going to be the cure; it’s like a medical practitioner giving you an antibiotic to cure an illness without actually establishing the root of the problem.
I have personally presented hundreds of time management workshops; the group and their management expecting the same magical result!
Time management in its purest form cannot exist. You cannot manage time! And if there was a way you could, it would mean having to stop the globe from spinning. We all know that’s impossible. What is it about time management that we want to achieve?
No matter who you are, where you’re from or where you work, what gender you are or how old/young you are (or pretend to be), and no matter what race you are or faith you follow, every human being has 24 hours in a day. Many embrace the challenge of doing the impossible within this allocated time frame, while others just can’t seem to get it right. How often do I encounter a single working parent with three kids who are studying, providing and working full-time to sustain their families, yet they still seem to find the time to live and love…ok and collapse!
The point is, the more you do, the more time you seem to find the time to do, and the less you do, the less time you seem to have. The secret, in my opinion, is routine and discipline.
I’m not suggesting you lead a robotic life, but rather following the principles of ‘take and replace’, ‘do it now, not later’, ‘take control of what you want rather than allowing others to control you with what they want’, and finally, find passion in what you do, that will help with your procrastination.
Ok, it all sounds easier said than done but think about it logically. If I don’t love what I do, what motivation do I have to be at work on time? (Granted there are legitimate reasons why I may be delayed such as accidents on the freeway, strike action or natural disasters).
If your current job is not your life’s calling, accept the fact that it’s not forever, just for now, and find something that you can enjoy within that job and focus on that.
Then consider how you work.
Here are some tips:
- Plan for only 50% of the following day. You have to allow for the unexpected. Commit to the full 50%.
- If lists don’t work for you, have the electronic ‘sticky notes’ on your computer. That way, as you switch on your computer, the first thing you see is what you need to do. Add and delete as you see fit. Or add different lists for different projects.
- Use electronic diaries – but only if everyone else in the company is using them as well. Synchronize diaries and allocate time for ‘you’ time. It’s not a crime to allocate some gym time or down time for yourself – you owe it to your life. Besides you’ll perform better having had some personal time.
- Know at which times of the day you are more productive, when you have more energy or seem to get through so much more. Those are your power hours. Use these hours to be productive, and leave the quieter time for administration work.
- Learn to say ‘no’. You don’t have to be rude, blunt or obnoxious. A simple ‘no’ because you legitimately cannot take on any more work or can’t go somewhere is well accepted. Best you say ‘no’ now instead of not delivering later.
- Try not to over promise, or give yourself too short a time to do the tasks. Be honest with your commitments and offer longer time frames.
- Engage in a briefing first thing every morning either with your boss or staff member/team to discuss your expectations for the day and theirs.
- If you need time out to conclude a task that requires your fullest attention, inform the receptionist to hold your calls for 2-3 hours and take messages or divert your calls. Switch off your cell phone in the process too. This is common practice by the way.
- Finally, assuming that you are at senior management level, taking short power naps of 20 minutes is highly recommended to re-energize and offer clarity in afternoon decision making.
Supposing you have the ‘disease to please’, consider this; people will generally take advantage of a person who says ‘yes’ to everything. You are being ‘nice’ and you think that people love you more for it. The sad reality is that people will generally use and abuse your generosity, not because they’re mean or nasty, but simply because you invited them in.
The question to ask is: “how often do you say ‘yes’ when you wished you could have said ‘no’? And because you have engaged in this commitment, it buggers up all plans of what you had intended to do. You’re now handling too much and your time management goes flying out the window. I guess I’ll be seeing you in my training room soon. Just remember, I call a spade a spade and I don’t do magic! But you do leave wanting to make a shift!