“I never think of the future. It comes soon enough”- Albert Einstein
Ahhhh Time. Most often we think “is Time running over us or are we running over time”, slipping deadlines, and a to-do list that seems to get longer each day — these experiences are all too common in both life and work. Does this sound familiar? I am sure it is. If we go back to our history where our great Grandparents were doing so many errands all by themselves without having any automation or any tool where they could fasten their work unlike we do these days. For example, washing machines to wash our clothes, unlike those days they use to literally wash clothes of the whole family. We have so many tools to manage our errands and yet we say we have no time. Something to think about it. Isn’t it?
In this blog, I am sharing my different views and perspectives on Time Management learnt through my own practical experiences and by reading multiple books.
It is equally true time management is turning us into stressed-out and unproductive machines. “The better you get at managing time, the less of it you feel that you have.” While I was working at corporates I always felt as if I was jumping on some trampoline between meetings and definitely it wasn’t a great feeling. Not sure how most people boast about getting into meeting after meeting. Until I was in corporate I never understood this, calling for so many meetings to discuss most often the same thing over and over again and then complain of not having Work Life Balance.
We all feel that there is never enough time in the day. But, since we all get the same 24 hours then why is it that some people achieve so much more with their time than others? How is it we have tools and techniques, we have tips and tricks, calendars and checklist than ever before and yet we seem always behind? How is it we are working longer hours? We seem to know more about time management today and yet we are stressed and buried? Do you think the answer lies in managing time well? If you have answered it as yes, then I will request you to think over it again. Managing time is not what we need to focus on but focus on Self-Management. Does this sound like a surprise? Let’s explore a bit and understand this a bit more.
Today Time Management is no more logical but more emotional. Our feelings of guilt, anger, feeling low, worry and frustration actually dictate how we choose to spend our time rather than what’s on our to-do list. Over the years I have realized, maybe, there is no such concept of time management. One cannot manage time; time continues on whether we like it or not. We cannot hold time nor can we stop time. It’s like you are trying to hold sand in your hands and it keeps slipping by, however hard you try to hold it. Do you agree? But I do believe that there is Self-Management,
Let’s take a tour of our history. Sometime in the ’50s to 60’s Time Management was based on efficiency. So we came up with multiple tools and techniques, tips etc. so that we could do our work much faster which would eventually give us more time in our hands. Is this relatable? Absolutely this approach was not wrong but yet we lacked in managing our day and went back to say I don’t have enough time on hand.
A few years back I came across this amazing study done by Dr Stephen Covey where he spoke on two important aspects i.e. Urgency and Importance and this helped us to prioritize our tasks and we used our negotiation skills to negotiate on each of our tasks. Isn’t it?
Prioritizing is more of focusing one over other items and what matters the most to us. I was using my negotiation skills to avoid conflicts on important and Urgent tasks. Prioritizing is definitely one of the most important and required leadership skill one needs to master for one to grow. But given to think how will only prioritization help if you are not able to manage yourself better. Also by prioritizing is it creating more time? It’s kind of borrowing time from multiple activities that are in play. Our tomorrow is dependent on what we do today, isn’t it? We cannot use the same strategies that we used yesterday to be successful. There is one more aspect called Three Dimensional Thinking i.e. while most of us make decisions based upon only Urgency or importance there is a third aspect which is Significance i.e. how long does it matter. What can I do today to make my tomorrow better? It’s more about what to do over what not to do. Question one need to ask is can this be eliminated, is it even worth doing? You must have heard about the Art of Saying no. I can think of an apt quote by Steve Jobs “It’s only by saying NO that you can concentrate on the things that are really important”.
We all have the same time 24 hours, 1,440 minutes and 86,400 seconds none of us are privileged to have more time or create more time. Honestly, nothing matters when you are earning the money you want but the real question is, is money the real value of time. If we value our time as money then we are valuing our time very cheaply because we think we have a lot of it because we think we going to live forever and we are not and the moment, we realize this earning XXXXX $ won’t mean much. Time is not money. Everyone has different perspectives towards time based on their own experiences. Some are emotional, philosophical or even calculative. This is how time is when you compare it to philosophy. If you are able to answer the question of what you are truly living for will remind you of the true value of your time. Another question is can you manage time. We have heard this quite often that “I don’t have time” and this is the biggest lie and we complain because we have more options, more freedom to choose for example we can shop any time of the day, we can order food anytime or even every day, watch our favourite shows anytime that means we have a lot more flexibility. A lot more freedom to use our time and we still say we don’t have time. It’s a way of tricking ourselves that we are not free. We often don’t want to face the reality and face consequences of our own decisions and hence we often say we don’t have time and come up with excuses. The reality is we do have time and it can be managed by managing ourselves. Time management is not about you but all of us. If you ask the right questions how did you like to manage time instead of focusing on tips and tricks? Next time you say you don’t have time to hang out or read or spend time with your family or something else then do ask this question to yourself. What better things you have to do or you are just making excuses. Eventually, if you notice very closely the isolation is spreading so fast that people are feeling lonely. Instead of been hooked to social media or binging to web series ask yourself the right questions and value your time. As life is short. Ask the right question to yourself before saying “I don’t have time”.
I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences on Time Management.