Do you hate it when the subject of ‘Time Management’ comes up?
Thoughts of “It’s not possible”, “I’ll forever be a procrastinator”, “Who really has a work/life balance anyway?” flood our minds, if we are honest. And the thing is, we are partially right – especially if these are the messages we hold on to.
The problem is, that time just passes –like water through a sieve.
“Time is an illusion, too often wasted,
Time can be made, alas, not created
Time is money, and cannot be lent
Cannot be bought, but only spent.”
I’m going to hold an assumption that you want to; or feel you ought to use your time better; so that you can do stuff that’s really important to you; more time with family and friends; more exercise; or time just doing what you love – films, concerts, art; or whatever.
Here is a 7-step model that will help you to use the time you have better; including two very specific exercises to nudge you in a better direction.
RADICAL time management:
The first two form the Inner Focus: the things that make you you. Most ‘Time management” courses provide a 1-size-fits-all approach, which could be why they only work for some of us, and sometimes only for a while. Starting with Inner Focus means thinking about what works best for you first.
Most ‘Time management” courses provide a 1-size-fits-all approach, which could be why they only work for some of us…
The remaining five are all Outer Focus: the things that you do, your habits.
Relevant is about considering your personality, your drivers and preferences.
Assess is about finding an understanding of where time goes, and your peak effectiveness times. I’ll come onto an exercise for that in a moment.
Depth is about how you deal with distractions, how deeply you work
Impact is about doing the right work for maximum impact, which requires that we prioritise effectively
Creative is about using your brain to its best advantage (clue: it isn’t in memorising to-do-lists) by thinking in outcomes.
Ask for help. Three short simple words that for some, cover a huge challenge, yet can have such significant impact.
Learn – from everything that happens to you every day. This will be the second key exercise.
Peak Effectiveness Time
Lets turn our attention first to how you might discover your peak effectiveness time (interestingly, I can find no definitive research on this).
Create a radar chart with 24 segments, and over at least a week (as long as you can) just track how effective you are each hour of the day. Here’s an example.
You can immediately see that if I have to do some deep work that requires concentration, I am better off scheduling it between 9 and 1pm, or, looking at it another way, starting 2 hours after I’ve clambered out of bed. So I wouldn’t plan any ordinary meetings in that time slot. You can also see that it might be better to do routine admin, for example: some email; between 1 and 3pm, and so on. Try it!
5 Magic Questions.
If you want to learn, start by noticing everything that happens to you every day.
The second exercise I’ve named the 5 ‘magic’ questions because of the impact that considering them over even as little as a week can have. If you want to learn, start by noticing everything that happens to you every day.
These are the questions:
- What did you intend to do today?
- How hard did you try?
- What went well?
- What could have gone better?
- What will you do differently tomorrow?
The way to use this is to jot the answers down at the end of each days work – make it part of your ‘packing up’ routine. Use a bit of paper, a sticky, or a postcard. Make sure you date it, and just put it aside and ignore it for a week. Then line them up in chronological order and you’ll see how you are using time well and not, and be able to draw some really helpful conclusions.
When you use these exercises for a week or two, you will start to use time better and do the stuff that is really important to you.
If you’ve enjoyed this post, please leave a comment below, and if there are any specific questions that it’s surfaced, put them there too.
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