Time is your friend.
Time is your enemy.
There is not enough time. I don’t have enough time.
I’m too busy.
Do those words sound familiar? How often have you heard them or, how often have you used them?
Time can be a burden when we look at it as an excuse. Time can be many things to each of us. When time becomes an excuse, “I don’t have the time to do that,” or, “There wasn’t/isn’t enough time,” it can mean you have lost control of your activities, and as such, they are controlling you; or that those things you claim you cannot do because you don’t have the time are not important to you. It can be an ally when we look at it as a motivator. “We are running out of time; we must move faster.”
Time is limited. There are only so many minutes in a day. Time is a resource that, once wasted or used, cannot be recovered. Time can be managed. Yes, we are talking about Time Management.
In our culture, being busy, always working, is something that is often valued. This holds especially true if one is a business owner, an entrepreneur, or in some professions. To them, time is money, and money is the purpose of their profession or business. Money puts a roof over their heads, food on their table, and clothes on their back. It provides for their family or those they love too. In those terms, one can understand the motivation. It also takes away time from those things we value, such as family, children, significant others, recreation, and more. It is a rare person who does not value anything other than the time they spend at work.
I’ve known several people in my career who have said that spending time on those other things can happen later; right now, it’s about building their business or career, their professional success. Later never comes, and when it does, they often find that nothing is there for them to spend that time on – all that matters left them behind years ago. (I had one tell me that they would rest and sleep after they died. Now was devoted for work)
Through the years, I’ve had several clients who severely struggled with time management issues. Some, we successfully coached and led them to better time management and ensuring they had a balance that allowed both professional and personal success. Others are still working their 14-18 hour days, seven days a week. They either lack the commitment, the change wasn’t as important to them as they had originally thought, or they refused to change in a way that allowed them to have greater balance; only they know the answer.
Those that were successful all received a gift. A gift that allowed them to do the things they wanted to do and enjoy their life today. That gift was the gift of time. You can give yourself this gift while practicing good Time Management skills, through the following steps:
- Stop lying to yourself:
When you tell yourself, or others, that you don’t have the time to do something, what are you really saying? Is it that you genuinely don’t have the time, or are you saying that what you don’t have time for is unimportant to you? Look at it this way – Your significant other, your children, your friends want you to do something. They want to go to dinner, a movie, the park, something. You say to them, “I don’t have the time right now.” Then, you may add to the lie, “I don’t have the time right now, maybe later.” But later is another lie because there is no later. There is no later because you have decided that what these should be important people in your life want is not important to you. You lack the fortitude to tell them they aren’t important, so you tell the lie. If you overcome the lie, take away the lie, you can begin to start making time for these other activities.
- Embrace efficiency:
Working too much, spending too much time working will eventually lead to exhaustion and burnout. Eventually, this will lead to you making mistakes, creating waste, and losing efficiency. I see this often in clients to who we are trying to help manage their time more efficiently. They juggle far too many projects simultaneously, they consistently work those 15 or more hour days, they only rest when they sleep, and they become so tired that sometimes even sleep is elusive. Further, this chronic fatigue they are experiencing can cause serious health issues. Overcoming this takes commitment and discipline. It starts with setting a start time and setting an ending time. Part of that includes that starting early in the day and working late into the day is not the way. You can only do one or the other.
- Work when you work best:
Some of us are morning people, and some of us are night owls. If your work gives you the flexibility or the ability to work when you are at your best, take advantage of that. You know when you do your best work. Take advantage of your knowledge.
- Be realistic:
There is only so much time in a day. Scheduling yourself for 24-hours worth of work is unrealistic, as is scheduling yourself for 12 hours of work. While some will tell you that worktime is where your focus should be, good time management and strong performance management tell you that you cannot devote all of your time to work time. You need time to recharge your batteries, spend time with your family, or take care of yourself. Don’t abuse yourself by not doing that.
- Make time your friend.
Research says that those who effectively manage their time are more than 50% more productive than those who do not. My client data shares that those who effectively manage their time have twice the profitability as those who do not. It also shares a higher business failure rate goes to those who don’t manage their time.
You can, AND SHOULD, manage your time.