Are you one of those people who always run out of time? Do you freak out when someone suggests that you should start by making a list? You don’t have the time to make any lists.
Time management is one of the most discussed topics nowadays. Majority of us is caught up in this crazy race, we insist on calling life, while trying to catch a breath between morning anxiety, midday stress and bedtime worries, constantly feeling that 24 hours in a day is not enough. Still, even though we all have the same amount of time, some people are very productive. It seems as if their ability to manage time is above the average, or could it be that they know something that we don’t know.
My personal circumstances have forced me to find the way of cramming into this tiny space of time full time job, school runs, household chores, quality time with my son and my studies, when I decided to qualify as a Life coach. As I was doing my research, the life changing solution came from, in my opinion one of the greatest mind-set teachers, Bob Proctor.
The idea is simple. We cannot manage time, we can only manage activities. This seemingly irrelevant word game is more powerful than we might think.
Certain things in life we can have control over, but the time isn’t one of them.
If we take a peek into history we will find out that people have been measuring time since as early as 1500BC when The Ancient Egyptians used simple sundials to divide intervals between sunrise and sunset into smaller parts. From obelisks, water clocks and candle clocks, to many high tech instruments that we use today to measure time we can only conclude that the time keeps running no matter what we do and in no way can we influence that flow.
So what happens when we try to manage time? It seems as if the time has the mind of its own and the harder we try to manage it, easier it slips through our fingers and disappears, leaving us with feelings of urgency and inadequacy.
It’s a completely different situation when we learn to manage activities. First of all, rather than stressing about the amount of time that we have or the lack of it, we focus on what needs to be done. The best way to do this is by making a list of all the tasks that are waiting for our attention. The next step is to put all tasks into one of the categories that will determine its priority.
The five categories required for organising priorities are:
• Important and urgent – tasks that require immediate action such as urgent response to an important email or returning a call.
• Important but not urgent – tasks that need to be done but are not urgent. Visiting a dentist for a check- up is important but convenient time can be scheduled for it.
• Urgent but not important – we might like to pay a visit to a hairdresser prior to a certain celebration but as we would still be able to go to a celebration with our old haircut, going to a hairdresser could be urgent but not important.
• Busy work – If we fail to organise our priorities we could end up doing something that appears to be important and urgent which is actually just more appealing than the task we should be focusing on.
• Wasted time – There is no rule about this one. What might be a waste of time for some people, others could find to be fun and relaxing. However, the rule of thumb is that if a person feels that the time could be used more productively, then what they are doing probably is a waste of time.
And the formula that we use in order to be efficient and productive is:
Firstly, the task with the highest priority is selected, secondly, all other tasks are excluded and finally 100% focus is put to performing the selected task until it has been completed. When the highest priority task is completed the remaining tasks are re-prioritised.
Another very important aspect of getting on top of your activities is learning to as accurately as possible estimate the time needed for execution of your to do list. If you underestimate you will run out of time and get stressed but if you overestimate you might end up procrastinating as you think that there is a plenty of time.
So, shift your focus from time to activities and become one of those people who always get things done.