I should likely start with a disclaimer that I don’t really believe in “time management.” I don’t believe in it because it’s really not possible to manage time, we each get 24 hours in a day, 1440 minutes. No more, no less. It’s the same for everyone; no one in the world has more time than you.
I agree that it seems like some people do have more time, their work is done and they even have some time left over for what is known as fun. I just don’t agree that happens because they manage their time better. It happens because they manage the “events” that use up their time more effectively than most people.
Think about this, our day is made up of driving, phone calls, emails, customer calls, sleeping, eating, and lots of other “stuff” we don’t even bother to define. The calls, emails, driving, eating, etc. are all events. The more events, the more time we need to complete them all.
Now while I don’t believe in time management I am a firm believer in event management. We can and must control the events in our lives on a daily basis if we truly want to be successful AND happy. Successfully managing the events of our lives is where balance comes from.
Luckily there are many tools available for us to manage these events. Let’s talk about just a few of them here.
Perhaps the most useful tool is the Daily Prioritized Task List. This is like a to-do list except the tasks are listed in order of importance and we don’t move to the second task until the first task is complete. Here’s a great question to always be asking yourself: Am I in this moment doing the most productive thing possible? The most productive “thing” is whatever is going to get you closer to whatever goal you’re working on at that time. It takes tremendous discipline to use a prioritized task list because the most important things are also often the most challenging. Our instincts are to “skip” ahead to a less challenging task, which will almost always backfire on us. Stick to the most important task, everything is easier once that is complete.
Next up is the tool we call Block Time. Here’s the concept of block time: instead of “planning” to tackle “events” in your free time, or your “extra” time schedule time on your calendar as if it were an appointment to complete that event. It’s like an appointment with yourself. The event can be anything you decide, calling for appointments, prospecting or follow-up. The important thing is to view this time “blocked” on your calendar as you would any other appointment, don’t just ignore it, keep the appointment, it may be your most important appointment of the week.
Another excellent event management tool is the Time Log. The time log helps us pinpoint how we really use our time. Let me say that again. It helps us pinpoint how we really use our time, not how we think we use our time. If you’re honest with how you use it then you’ll learn just what your biggest time wasters are and what time of the day you are most productive. Simply Google “time log” for more information on how to use this valuable tool. This tool also will take great discipline to use but you’re not spending time to use it, you’re investing time in the short term to gain time is the long term.
The real key to effective event management is to be completely honest with ourselves. When we’re not, we can fool ourselves into thinking what we’re doing is indeed productive. We convince ourselves that the 45 minutes we spent talking about the game last night was relationship building because the conversation was with a customer. It’s times like that we need to keep the “is this the most productive thing” question firmly in mind.
Providing ourselves with more time to succeed during the day is a choice, it’s about making consistently great decisions, being fearless when prioritizing events, and having the courage to say no to requests you know you can’t accomplish in the time you have. Above all, never tell yourself there is not enough time in the day, there is exactly enough time when you match your events to the 24 hours you have each and every day.