I came across an interesting idea recently regarding time management. The idea was that there isn’t actually any such thing as time management. That time marches on regardless of what we do with it and that we all get the same amount – just 24 hours a day. No amount of time management techniques or colour coded schedules was going to give you more time.
The flip side of the idea was that it is really all about self management. Our ability to apply discipline to our lives and to make, and stick to, wise choices regarding the use of the time we are given - that a good hard look at where we are investing, and possibly wasting, our time would in fact yield more time.
Both good ideas to ponder, but I wonder if the secret actually lies somewhere between the two. Can we manage ourselves within the time we have, to get done those things that we need and want to do? And for me personally, can I do it without sacrificing my colour coded schedules?
Getting to the end of your day having not accomplished what you set out to do is frustrating and disheartening. So perhaps the way through the time/self management maze is to first of all take some time. Time to consider your priorities for each day – what has to get done, what would you like to get done?
Then sit back and make an honest assessment of how you currently use your time. What are your habits that maybe take up more hours than they should? I know I could list a few time wasting habits without much thought at all, but perhaps that is just me?
Then perhaps look at some tried and true time management techniques. There are probably thousands of them out there. From experience, these are my top three for managing that ‘too much to do in a day’ situation:
- Pause before committing. I used to be a serious over-committer, I always wanted to be ‘helpful’. Now, with a bit more wisdom, I have a standard line that I try to remember to use – “I’ll consider that and get back to you”. That way you have time to weigh up the request against your priorities and make a decision accordingly.
- Use a buffer between activities. Things often take more time than you think, so give a 15-30 minute buffer between engagements, sometimes even longer. If you find yourself with some time free, make use of it in a way that is just for you. My tip – keep a book, magazine, journal, favourite CD in your car/bag for such times.
- Do not schedule more than two big activities in one day. And work is one of those! Be sure to keep your priorities in mind when choosing your activities, ask yourself if this activity will help you get the most out of your time before committing.