Sunday, May 07, 2006

Time Management is Self Management

"Not everything that can be counted counts; not everything that counts can be counted." - Albert Einstein

Time management isn’t about managing time, it’s about rethinking and making changes with our relation to time. It’s managing ourselves, not the 1440 minutes in a day. And it’s not robbing Peter to pay Paul where you ‘borrow' from one chunk of time to use for another task that takes a chunk of time. The stressors we feel is about our productivity, not how we use the time. It’s what we accomplish within it. If we’re scattered and are unfocused, then our productivity goes way down. Life is like being a goalie in a hockey game (OK so I’m Canadian, born and raised on watching the Canadiens); we deal with whatever is thrown at us.

So what are your time wasters? Some might say the way they waste their time is by doing the easiest things first. I don’t consider that a waster. I call that the “quick and dirties” to get everything off your plate you can as quickly as possible which energizes you, makes you feel as if you’ve accomplished a great deal and frees you up to plunge into the bigger chunks. That’s a relationship to time. Many work differently. Many feel they have to plunge into the deep end of their biggest problem first thing which is not necessarily the best way to go. Often one doesn’t have enough information to work through the problem properly and become frustrated that there’s no immediate solution, again a relationship to time and how it’s used. Positive delay is making sure enough time is given to get all the facts before plunging in. A strategically smart move to make which pays off down the road so in the meantime, the ‘quick and dirties’ will get a lot off your plate. Working that way will also raise your energy level as subconsciously you know you're accomplishing and completing something.

Poor delegation skills will also be a time waster as not only haven’t you given clear instructions to the person you’re delegating to, you end up controlling half the work anyways. If you delegate work, then do it well, so it doesn’t come back to haunt you.

Saying yes all the time might be the biggest time waster of all. If you’re afraid to say no to the boss and take on way too much for any person to handle, you will be overwhelmed. And if you need to have control of every step of a project, then that’ll be the clincher.

A few years ago when I was shadowing an executive, one of the first things he shared with me was that he was working twelve to fourteen hour days and never seemed to get anything accomplished. His was tired, stressed and didn’t feel as though he was creating anything of value for the organization. So I asked him to tell me all the meetings he had to attend, which ones he was chairing, which he had to attend and those he volunteered to be a part of. That included his one-on-ones with his staff as well as corporate meetings.

That night I plugged it into a scheduling program. The next morning when I walked into his office I told him “You have an hour and a half free time… ten minute increments….(Then I added) A WEEK!”

He looked at me in shock. He knew he was always “running to meetings” but never stopped to realise what a toll that took on his work. So we redefined. What could he say no to? Who could he delegate some meetings to? And what meetings didn’t have a direct impact on his work at all and therefore he could eliminate?

It’s all about relationship to time, how we respect it, use it to serve our needs rather than try to juggle. I even get my clients to schedule in their emergencies….to simplify, choose their top 3 priorities and not do 25, because if they try the 25, something’s got to give, and it ultimately won’t be something they want.

Donna Karlin

No comments: