Even though so many of us know that proper time management leads to great outcomes, we still struggle to implement it. What do we need to know in order to truly master time management and make it work for us?
Now, even though most of us don’t have a thrilling and positive reaction to the word, we do know that time management is critical in achieving our goals. It moves things forward. It gets things done. I used to react that way too.
This time-management word reminds us (like so many other things) that we are not perfect and our lives are not perfect. Yet, we know we can do better. Somehow we just don’t get to it. It is this nagging responsibility we feel to be more organized and more efficient, and hope we will get there before we are reminded of it again. Still, like a new year’s resolution, it gets postponed, while we simply manage to get by. And we are definitely not excited to see another time-management reminder…
All of this was true for me, until something changed. A long while ago, I stopped struggling with time and, rather than racing against it, I found a way to make it work like a clock (a pun may be intended).
All it took was a shift in my mindset. Simple but powerful, it changed everything.
If we reflect on what makes our project complete and successful, I hope we will agree that time management has a lot to do with whether something gets done, and to what extent we feel proud of the outcome. Of course, skills, effort, creativity, a team of like-minded people, etc., etc., do play a huge role and contribute greatly to the success of a project, but these wonderful things alone without the proper management of time will not bring the same outcome.
So if it is so important, why then is it so difficult? Why do we have this yucky feeling when we hear about time management? How do we get better at it? Do we need more specific tactics? Are we using the wrong strategies? No, it goes beyond that. One day, I re-framed the whole concept in such a way, that it really helped me get hold of it and never (and I really mean never) struggle with it again. See, one of the problems is this:
We are often told HOW to implement time management without ever taking the time to think of WHY.
Why do we need it? Is it so that we can get a lot done? But why? Getting things done just isn’t good enough. Getting a lot done does not make us more productive or more accomplished. What does, however, is getting what matters done. So then, this begs us to consider, what matters to us? This is a big question. It is so much easier to say “I don’t have time to think about it” and turn to the list of to-do’s, but again, being busy does not lead to good time management.
The less we think about how we spend our time and why, the less productive we are.
But if we do ask ourselves, what matters to us and why we do what we do, then it is so much simpler to turn to those most important things and focus our time on them. If all the small steps lead to a meaningful outcome, they do not feel like disjointed tasks and chores. Instead, they are the very steps we take in the right direction of getting to a meaningful result.
The way I look at it is from the perspective of Time as a bigger concept, as in, the Time of our Life. Time IS our life. Time is how our life is measured, and it is so much more precious because we can never get it back. It either passes by with well-spent hours and days, or it escapes us with all the lost opportunities in it.
We have just enough time to actualize whatever we decide is important to us. The more of that time we waste somewhere else, the less we have for what we really need.
If you think about it, you have had a similar experience. When you give time to the things that matter, that time never feels wasted. If most of your time goes to those things, you will feel like you have enough of it. However, when we are not doing what we truly need to do, we end up feeling the weight of the wasted time. We may then reach for a time management strategy, rather than taking a moment to revisit the why of what we were doing or avoiding.
There are many great strategies for us to use to become better at managing our time and life, but without this critical mindset shift and a reflection on the why behind what we do, these strategies too will feel like a chore. In essence, the prerequisite to successful time management is the understanding of what are the priorities for us personally, and how small steps taken over time relate to each other.
When meaningful things get done, our life begins to be measured in the work we did, rather than simply in the time that has gone by.
Now, reading about a transformation and really going through one are two different things. It sounds so simple, that it may not seem worth giving it a try. Solutions do not always need to be complicated, sometimes they are simply overlooked. Because of this, I truly hope you can position yourself to have a different perspective. You will begin to see things in ways that give you more control over what matters and how to handle it.
Time constraint is a wonderful tool in determining our priorities. It forces clarity. Without clarity, on the other hand, we are forced to feel the constraints we end up struggling against.
The clarity that comes with the knowledge of what matters is the cornerstone of effective time management. First comes the WHY and then it is easier to implement the HOW. And so with this, I wish you to never struggle with time again.
Invest your time where you most need it, and it will never be wasted.
Alright, you may say, this is all fine and great, but what about those things we don’t find meaningful and still have to do? Of course, it is so much easier to stand behind a project we deeply believe in. We find time management easier for something meaningful like that. But how do we work through tedious things we don’t find purpose in? How do we manage time in those cases? Will we still struggle as before? While we primarily focused on a mindset shift for anything you seem to have lost motivation for, there are similar adjustments for tedious things too. To begin with, you need to know when you are procrastinating and what deceiving thoughts may be keeping you from getting small tasks done.
I would love to hear from you — what are your thoughts on this mindset shift? Talk to me on Twitter or Facebook. And, as always, please share this article with others, who you feel may benefit from it.