Instead of thinking,"How can I better manage my time?" think, "How can I better manage my priorities
- If you think you have time management issues — you're probably wrong.
- Most people who think they have time management issues actually have priority management issues.
Have you ever met someone that keeps saying ¨ I don’t have enough hours on the day¨ or ¨I haven’t finished this project because I haven’t had enough time¨ or ¨apologies for the mistakes on the business case, I didn’t have time to review it¨
Most probably you have met someone. Either yourself, your children with their homework or someone in your team!
If you're wondering about how you can become better at time management, it's quite likely that you're asking the wrong questions.
- You're only going to have 24 hours in a day no matter what you do. Unless you're close to a scientific breakthrough that allows you to personally bend spacetime, you can't speed it up, slow it down, optimize it, or maximize it. A second is a second.
As Einstein himself remarked, "Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. That's relativity." Time doesn't fly when you're having fun — your perception of time changes
- The way we think about time also deludes us into thinking that we "use" time. Yes, we talk that way and we think that way, but we don't use time any more than a fish uses water. We do things through time.
- Energy and attention are more scarce than time. This is the main point behind assessing your TEA: time, energy and attention.
- Most people will squander "excess time" when they get it.
Money can be managed. People can be managed. Schedules can be managed. Time can only be accounted for.
People who think they have time management problems really have priority management problems, which means, at root, they have self-management problems.
Teams and organizations have the same problem — as a unit, there are only so many priorities that a given group of people can address in a given slice of time. One of the chief jobs of the leaders is to ensure that people are addressing the most important priorities in any given slice of time.
While we're thinking about priorities, let's remember that too many priorities mean you have none. Whether we're talking about your personal, professional, or business life your mind can only handle specific amount of them every day. For instance, we may be professionals AND parents and need to consider the priorities we have in each domain- area of our life- and how they align or conflict in different ways at different times.
So, the next time you're thinking about how to manage your time, I hope you'll consider changing the frame to how you're managing your priorities.
Two important things to always keep in mind
- Your yearly, monthly, weekly and daily priorities should be aligned. Otherwise you will have a conflict and you won´t move towards them. You will procrastinate.
- They have to be aligned with your personal, work or business values or you will be frustrated.
Plan your time based on the above and on priorities.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself (leaders can make a few changes to ask about their teams) to springboard your thinking:
- What matters now- most today? (People change in time, so it's natural that priorities change in time, as well. Make sure you're not acting on yesteryear's priorities just because you had them last year.)
- What actions can I take today, tomorrow, and this week that most reflect my priorities?
- What are the priorities of the people around me who matter? (Your family, friends, boss, coworkers, employees.) Do we have alignment, interdependence, or tension?
- What's on my plate that doesn't reflect my priorities and what needs to happen to get it off my plate?
- With whom can I share my priorities so that I receive the support I need to take action on them?
If you manage your priorities well, you'll see how you really don't have a time management problem.
Let me know how can I help.
All the best.