First off, let me apologize profusely for the extremely long title. It was necessary and you’ll see why in just a bit. Along with your forgiveness, I will also ask you to do two things that are instrumental in making this article work for you.
- Read all the way to the end
- Be honest with yourself (no really, just be open and honest)
Now that we have all the formalities out of the way, let’s get started. We’ve all at one point or another, resolved to manage our time better. Very few of us make it through the week without being completely overwhelmed and feeling like there aren’t enough hours in the day. Bold overachievers make more hours by borrowing from the night hours and cutting down on sleep. While these people keep our doctors and hoteliers well paid, this may not be the lifestyle that you’re interested in adopting when you think of time management. So what’s going wrong? You’ve made a plan, you’ve broken it into tasks, you’ve set deadlines and all the other lovely things you’re told you should do and you still feel like you’re not getting ahead and in fact, you’re getting more and more tired of being behind.
Technology made it worse!
In today’s world for example, we have the convenience of paying bills online, in days gone by you would have to shower, get dressed, leave the house and stand in a line for what felt like forever to get a financial transaction done. So aren’t we saving time with all the modern inventions and gizmos? We have a device to keep us from getting lost, an app to call a cab, indoor exercise machines so we save time going to the gym, our own phones on our hips so that we don’t have to use the community phone (yes, that was once a thing), an app for banking, a library app, so why do we feel like we have less time? Well the very short answer here is that we keep stuffing more things into our day because of the illusion of all this time we thing we have saved up. Which brings me to why our time management plans are not working. Here goes:
- We save an hour and we try to force two hours worth of errands into that space. We are poor at budgeting our time. We overbook and over extend ourselves and should learn how to say no a bit more often.
- We are doing too many things! Pay attention to this one because this is where it gets real. We believe that we can do it all and have it all and in reality we can’t, well not all at once anyway. Before you turn away let me explain. If you’re a working parent for instance, then you’ll have a lot of these types of problems. Do I go to the client dinner or do I go home to catch dinner with the family and tuck my children in? Do I attend the PTA meeting and have my boss think I’m less reliable or do I keep working and miss out on my child’s progress report? The harsh reality is that quite often you have to choose. You will have to choose between being a great parent and an okay employee or an okay parent and a great employee. So choose. If you try to do everything you will end up doing a sloppy job at everything and you’ll end up being a poor employee and a poor parent.
- We choose quantity over quality. Do you spend your time doing many things to overcompensate for who you think the world needs us to be? If you find yourself doing this, stop, focus and purge. It’s just like a closet bulging with clothes we hardly wear, once we purge those things we no longer need to make us happy, doesn’t it feel better?
- We fill our day with low level tasks by staying away from high value high gain tasks. High value high gain tasks give us great returns but are, for one reason or another, completely intimidating. Find out why that is. Do we shy away from a task because we don’t know how to do it? Do we shy away because we know how to do it but it seems unpleasant? These tasks will not go away by busying yourself with other tasks that give you little or no returns. As the famous author Brian Tracey recommended…Eat that Frog! Find out what’s keeping you from doing your high value tasks and fix it.
- We’re holding on to bad habits and before you start to feel bad rest assured that we’ve all done it. We’ve done a schedule and we’ve resolved to spend an hour a day on the phone and yet four hours later we swear it’s not that bad. I do it too except I make it look respectable. I am watching the news and keeping up with African history etc. I tell myself. Respectable or not though, it is still wasted time that could have been better spent being productive and pursing the goals you set out.
- We don’t make our goals realistic. Shoot for the stars if that is your aspiration, but don’t discount the research and planning that you have to do. Budget that in so that you don’t feel like you’re in over your head.
- We don’t take enough rest days. No matter what is going on a rest day or two is always in order. You aren’t doing yourself any favours by sneaking in work on your rest days. Rest days don’t only rest our bodies but they rest our minds and they actually make us more productive in the long run.
I hope these tips helped. Please let me know if they did and which one you liked best. Also feel free to add any in the comments section below that I might have missed out.