There are only 24 hours, 1440 minutes and 86,400 seconds in a day. That is it and so the idea that you can somehow manage time is pretty ridiculous. Its really the other way around which means that time is managing you.
This idea that we can actually manage time is one of the reasons that we are so highly stressed and perhaps why we often feel overwhelmed.
Taking a resilience approach means that we begin to see time for what it is…a commodity. Time is more like money in that we make choices about how we spend it and those choices makes a statement about our priorities and what is important to us. That is how we deal with the limited time we have
A corollary of this fact is that our perception of time is often distorted. You may think that you can get by on 4 hours of sleep but if your body actually needs 6, eventually it will catch up to you. As you plan a specific project, you may think that it will only take 10 hours to complete it and that may be completely accurate. However, nobody works a clean 10 hours. Out of the hour you have scheduled to work on that project, you may actually only spend 40 minutes. The other time may be lost to phone calls, getting interrupted by a colleague or responding to nature’s calls. Nothing wrong with any of that, but over a 1o hour schedule to get that project done, you’ll actually need an additional 3 1/2 hours to actually finish that project.
So instead of thinking of managing time, instead consider thinking of time as an investment in your productivity and try out these ideas.
- Know your priorities—You will spend your time on the things that you feel are most important—make sure you know what they are. Make a list of your priorities for the year and then cascade them down to what you want to do this week to achieve that goal—If you are a manager make sure that your team knows what the work priorities are for the year and for this week This can shift but make sure your people know what is critical.
- Recognize that you already use effective approaches for using your time. It may be lists or project planners or your Filofax. Examine what your process is and then see if you can tweak it to increase your efficiency. If you are a tech geek, try out some of the new apps like Wunderlist or Eternity Time Log that can help you time your work, rest and play. If you are old school, keep a big calendar with priorities and time frames up on your wall. Anything and everything can help you maximize your time investment.
- There is no such thing as wasting time. Remember you set the priorities and sometimes its important to play Candy Crush or go for a walk as a way of rebooting your mind. We know its essential to make time for our family and friends and also to talk and build relationships with colleagues. Don’t beat yourself up about taking some time for distractions. They are good and necessary.
As you gain more control over your time investment, you may begin to think like William Faulkner, “Clocks slay time… time is dead as long as it is being clicked off by little wheels; only when the clock stops does time come to life.”