Do you ever find yourself writing out endless to-do lists with the same things on, staying late to finish work because you haven’t had time in the day, or wishing you just had more time! There are countless courses, blogs and books about time management. Is it the biggest con - leading us all to believe that we can manage time? We cannot manage time, but we can manage what we do with our time. Therefore, it is not time management it is time prioritisation that we need to look at. Guess what? If you really want to do something you will find the time.
“Either you run the day, or the day runs you” – Jim Rohn.
There are things that we can control: our activity and our self-talk (our inner dialogue: what we say to ourselves). We have direct control over how much activity we actually do in a day, how much time is spent procrastinating versus getting the job done. We can also control our inner dialogue which affects the mood we are in and how pro-active we are that day. If we are sitting there thinking that we are not going to get the task done, or meet our target, then the likelihood is that we will probably not. Our self-talk has a huge influence over our actions.
There are also things we can influence, like interruptions. You can’t control the people who are interrupting you but you can manage expectations. When someone asks you for help what do we normally say? Yes. We need to learn to say “I am busy now but I can help you at 3pm.” Or if you are managing/mentoring a new person asking them to write down 10 questions before they come and interrupt you so that reduces the number of interruptions to 1 instead of 10 separate occasions.
We need to realise that there are some things that we just have to accept – we can’t change the number of hours in a day, what the weather is doing or other people’s perceptions. Every person has had an alternative experience, comes into work in a different mood and has had emotional conditioning not like yours. We need to accept that we can’t control their perception but we can influence it by the information we give them, exposing their self-talk and the way we treat them.
This is the CIA rule – what can you control, what can you influence and what do you just have to accept.
Making a schedule helps to be more effective with your time – what did we all have at school? A timetable. Who still makes themselves one? The most effective people plan their week ahead of time and block in all the immovable tasks, they then slot in the things they need to do that week. Block out time for unforeseen jobs and interruptions.
“The key is not to prioritise what’s on your schedule but to schedule your priorities” – Stephen Covey.
If you are making a to-do list put dates by each task as to when you need to complete that task by, and block the time into your diary so you know when you do have time to do it. Rather than it being an ongoing list of things to do that you never seem to have time to do it becomes a helpful tool.
So, to be more effective with your time – make a schedule and stick to it, control your self-talk, manage expectations of people around you and accept that some things are out of your control, so don’t waste your energy worrying about them.