Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Time Management is a Fallacy

The concept of managing time is ridiculous.

A second is a second.

A minute is a minute.

An hour is an hour.

And a day is a day (24 hours long, no more and no less).

Time marches forward relentlessly. You cannot stop it and you certainly cannot manage it.

What you can manage however, is yourself.

How you use the seconds, minutes and hours each day is under your control. You can manage your schedule. You can manage your level of focus. You can manage distractions.

Do you start each day sitting and planning your day out on paper? Or do you end each day sitting and planning out tomorrow on paper? Or do you do neither?  (I do hope that it’s a not the last one).

Your level of productivity is tied to being organized and having a written plan of action.  Think about some of the most successful people you can. Do you really think Elon Musk, Richard Branson, Bill Gates or any other successful entrepreneur, entertainer or politician is just going through each day shooting from the hip? Absolutely not.

They get more done in the same 24 hour period as you because of the disciplines they have established for themselves. They allocate their time according to a plan. A written plan that takes into account what they need and want to accomplish in a host of areas: business, family, personal, community, civic, and/or religious to name a few.

Take some time to sit, think and write down all the areas of your life that are important to you and that you want to make an impact in. That list should become the backbone to your daily and monthly planning. Develop a simple template with each area of importance to you and fill it out for a month at a time. What do you want to accomplish this next month?

Once you have your monthly goals written down you can then use a daily planner. I know, it sounds a bit archaic, but I like having a pocket daily planner with me. I can reference it quicker than my phone and I find the act of writing things in it makes the items more important. Writing verses typing seems to make things more concrete in my mind; it makes me more committed to getting them done. For me, having the planner in front of me (on my desk or table wherever I go) with my goals written down is a continual reminder to stay focused and get things accomplished.

I would also strongly suggest that you keep your phone in your pocket as much as possible. You probably have no idea how much time you waste looking at email, Facebook, twitter, Instagram, or stock quotes (to name a few) as well as playing games. Those little screens chew up time faster than you realize. Yes- you can and should check email and respond as necessary BUT if you will just schedule set times each day (perhaps 10:00, noon, 3:00 and 5:00) you will be amazed by the fact that you are suddenly more productive and the world did not stop spinning just because you did not respond to every ping or whistle from your phone (muting email notifications doesn’t hurt either – and yes, I know I am crazy with that suggestion). I always tell my direct reports that email is for non-urgent communication. If they truly have an emergency or urgent need – they 
should be dialing the phone and speaking directly to me, not sending an email.

Always remember that you cannot manage time. You manage yourself. You manage your schedule. You mange what is important to you.  Simple truth - what is truly important is what gets done.  

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