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For some, time management means squeezing every minute to get as many things done as is humanly possible before we collapse in exhaustion. In other words, “How can I do more in less time?”
Let’s consider a more humane definition.
The process of deciding on the order in which you will do tasks, and making sure that they are done on scheduleDefinition of time management according to the Collins Dictionary
Time management involves two things: prioritizing (based on your goals, not just what’s urgent), and setting limits (on how much time you spend on something, and when you complete it).
But why is time management important? Below I have listed the top advantages of learning how to spend your time wisely.
Like money, we can budget our time wisely. We can “buy” time by outsourcing tasks. We can “trade” our time for money by providing value. We can also squander it, like spending too much time on social media.
But unlike money which we can grow actively or passively, time is a finite resource.
QUOTE: “The future is something which everyone reaches at the rate of sixty minutes an hour, whatever he does, whoever he is.” ~ C.S. Lewis
Because time is limited, it is important to use it wisely and make it count. Spend your time pursuing your goals, doing things you enjoy, taking care of yourself, and being with people you love.
Just to be clear, time management is not about putting everything on your to-do list into your calendar and attempting to get everything done.
Time management requires us to first identify what’s a priority and what’s not. Then we allocate reasonable time to do the important tasks, delegate the others, and eliminate the rest.
Blocking off enough time for each important activity will help us avoid feeling rushed all the time. We feel more confident that we can meet our deadlines and we are making progress on key aspects of our lives.
Allocating sufficient time for projects means you’re most likely to deliver work that you’re proud of. You are able to brainstorm ideas, execute them, and leave some wiggle room to make revisions or handle problems that may crop up.
Consider this strategy of Mona Sutphen, Deputy Chief of Staff at the White House during President Barrack Obama’s administration. After seeing how crises derailed her tight schedule, she blocked off some time daily for dealing with the unexpected.
Even if you can produce something good at the last minute and just “wing it,” imagine what more would a carefully crafted output look like for you? What if next time, you don’t just wing it–you nail it? 🙂
Both at work or in our professional lives, we want to be around people who keep their word.
Whether you’re an employee or a business owner (or both), someone is depending on you to deliver what you promised. Failing to do so often has repercussions, not just to your job performance. It can affect a product launch or a business’s profit, or upset the project’s timetable.
By budgeting your time, you can meet, or even exceed, expectations. And when clients know they can depend on you, they may hire you again or refer you to others. This leads us to the next point.
When clients know they can rely on you to get things done well and on time, you become their go-to guy/gal. This allows you to have repeat customers–which is good business. As Karl Stark and Bill Stewart, co-founders of advisory firm Avondale Strategic Partners, wrote: “It’s cheaper, easier, and more effective to retain current customers than it is to acquire new ones.”
Another good news is, as you learn to better manage your time and priorities (which includes delegating tasks to highly capable team members), you can free up time to take on new clients.
By onboarding extra pairs of hands, you can get some activities off your plate and still be confident that these are completed.
But what if you’re the type of entrepreneur who loves doing things on your own? You might feel hesitant to outsource or delegate because you’re not sure others can “get” you and achieve exactly what you want?
Trust me, I know how that feels. But consider this: According to Gallup, successful builders are also good delegators: “Delegators recognize that they cannot do everything and are willing to contemplate a shift in style and control.”
If you’re looking to grow your business, there’s no way around delegation. What you can do though, is get better at delegating and choosing the right people to work with.
By using these time management tips, you will have more free time in your hands which you can use for fun activities (being with family, traveling, pursuing hobbies). You can also have more time for rest, which actually helps you become even more productive.
Be smart about how you use that free time. Make sure you don’t get sucked into mindlessly scrolling through your apps. If you’re struggling with this, check out these great tips from the Center for Humane Technology.
As mentioned above, time management is about getting priorities done on time. It is not merely about ticking off things from an ever-growing to-do list.
When your daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly schedules are aligned with what you truly value, you increase your chances of achieving your goals–perhaps even earlier than you expected.
If you’re used to multitasking and working with so many distractions, it’s no mean feat to be able to work on one task–uninterrupted–for 25 minutes (the length of one pomodoro).
As you get better at monotasking, it gradually builds into a habit. Then, 25 minutes would fly by and you find yourself easily focusing on one task even beyond 25 minutes!
As you put limits to how much you work and eliminate distracting activities, you are able to focus on what truly matters, not just in your work life, but in other aspects as well. Saying no to a long, late meeting may mean you can join your family for dinner. Saying no to a lot of unnecessary commitments eventually empowers you to say no to other activities that are neither your priority nor your responsibility.
When you are not overwhelmed or feeling rushed, you are able to think about things carefully before making a decision.
Allocating time and energy for thinking is very important for entrepreneurs. As LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner points out: “Part of the key to time management is carving out time to think, as opposed to constantly reacting. And during that thinking time, you’re not only thinking strategically, thinking proactively, thinking longer-term, but you’re literally thinking about what is urgent versus important, and trying to strike that right balance.”
TIP: Block off time in your calendar just to think and strategize. It can be weekly, monthly, or as often as you need to.
When you manage your time well, you free up space in your calendar to take a step back from your life and spot opportunities for growth. In addition, when you say “no” to the wrong opportunities, you carve out time to say “hell yes” to the right ones.
As I mentioned above, delivering great outputs on time is one great way to get repeat clients and referrals. This helps you expand your business organically–at no expense or minimal effort on your part.
In his Harvard Business Review article, Tony Schwartz, author and president of The Energy Project, discussed the importance of harnessing our energy throughout the day:
Oftentimes, we consider something a priority if it has a deadline, if it can boost our income or popularity, or if it has a reward attached to it. Everything else we already know is important–our health, our relationships, activities that bring us joy–our relegated to the back burner, until we can “find the time” for them.
But as Schwartz points out, these things actually multiply our energy. We will never have more than 24 hours in a day, but we can get more energy packed into those hours. By building in energizing activities into our daily, weekly, even yearly schedules, we can actually get more things done.
I’ve detailed how multitasking is bad for you before, but it’s not only your productivity that suffers from multitasking.
Research has shown that multitasking is bad for our mental health as well, as dr. Cynthia Kubu points out:
Trying more than one thing at a time — especially anything potentially dangerous, like texting while driving — seriously compromises our ability to complete the tasks safely and well. Equally important, repeatedly switching back and forth from project to project, like a hummingbird darting from flower to flower and then back to the original flower, can impair our ability to function at our finest.dr. Cynthia Kubu – time.com
I’m not sure many of us would immediately link the discipline of managing our time with happiness.
But time management puts constraints on the bad/unproductive/unimportant things, and helps us maximize our time for things that truly matter. We get a chance to work and rest and savor life. We don’t feel like we are merely living to work; instead, we are working to support the life we want to live.
Your turn. What motivates you to get better at managing your time? Share your thoughts below.
I transform how solopreneurs manage their time so they can focus on running their dream business. Read more...
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