Saturday, November 8, 2014

you have to find time before you can manage it

Clock
photo by kojotomoto
The fact is you can't manage time that doesn't exist. Over the years I've had countless conversations with individuals that are spiraling out of control because, from their perspective, they just don't manage their time well. And in some cases they're right. Time-vacuums like television, social media, clutter and poor-decision making are taking up far too much real estate on their calendars. But in some cases, quite frankly, people just have too much on their plate.

Before you can successfully manage your time, you must first ensure that you have enough time to manage. Which requires you to do a little self-assessment.

Ask yourself the following questions:

How do I think I spend my time?
Question number one requires some brainstorming. Take five minutes and write down the things, activities, people, problems that take up time in your day-to-day life. Try to be specific. Don't just write down "work" but rather the actual activities at work that take up your time (i.e. answering email; attending meetings; returning calls)

How should I spend my time?
Next, take five minutes and brainstorm the most important things, activities, people and problems that should take up your time. This isn't a list of what you would necessarily like to do, but rather the things you need to do to be effective in your various roles. 

How do I really spend my time?
Answering this question is going to take a bit more heavy-lifting. Over a one-week period I challenge you to log your time-spent. Leave nothing out. For example, on Wednesday nights, my husband and I watch Modern Family - that's a half hour that should make its way into my log.

So, where's the disconnect?
Why do this exercise? It's important that you compare what you perceive (how you think you spend your time) with the truth (how you really spend your time). Once doing so, you need to weigh it all against what you value most (how you should spend your time). There may be things that are taking up serious amounts of real estate on your calendar that don't need to be there. Likewise, you may realize that there are activities or priorities for which you've left little room. If you find that the latter is true, you may need to actually find time, rather than manage it more effectively. You have to make some tough decisions. What gives? What can you evict from your calendar to make room for what's most important?