If you can’t manage time, what can you do?

September 12, 2012

by Terry Monaghan, 12 September 2012

Last week, I wrote that you can’t manage time. Time management doesn’t work.

What you have access to is your energy and your actions. So, what do I mean by that?

I was reading an interesting book over the summer – The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working, by Tony Schwartz. In that book, they talk about energy as defined in physics: the capacity to do work.

Interesting definition, isn’t it? Gives you a very different way to think about energy. So, what impacts your energy? What gives you the best capacity to do work?

According to the authors, there are four areas that together make up our energy:

  • Sustainability (Physical)
  • Security (Emotional)
  • Self-Expression (Mental)
  • Significance (Spiritual)

There is a reason the first one listed is sustainability – the physical aspect. If you are not taking care of yourself physically, it won’t really matter how well the other three are functioning for you. The body will trump everything.

So, managing your physical well-being is one of the critical factors in managing energy – especially if  you want a breakthrough in your productivity, and any possibility of work-life balance. And you have heard me say before – if it isn’t scheduled to happen, it probably won’t happen. Time for yourself has to be a priority for you to have the capacity to work.

(I highly recommend you read the book.)

My second point had to do with managing your actions. You really have direct control over what you do.  And the only thing that reliably produces results is taking action.

So many are afraid to make a mistake that they will think, plan, overthink, forecast, plot – anything but act. But if we really look, even in those times when we have made a mistake – we have gained valuable data. Even if the only data gathered is that wasn’t the way to go.

Things happen in time (at least it looks that way). But without someone taking action – nothing really happens.

What actions do you need to take to get the result you want? Make a phone call, go to the meeting, write the proposal – DO something!

©  Terry Monaghan, 2012, All Rights Reserved

Want to use this article in your ezine or website? You can, as long as you include this complete blurb with it:

Consultant, coach, speaker, trainer and entrepreneur, Terry Monaghan, publishes Now What, an ezine for entrepreneurs and professionals who want to double their productivity, improve their performance, and have a life! If you’re ready to jump start your performance and your results, then get your free tips now at http://www.TimeTriage.com.


Time management doesn’t work!

August 29, 2012

by Terry Monaghan, August 29, 2012

Have you ever wondered why time management doesn’t stick?  You know what I mean… You try this course, read that book, get this app, make lists, use the calendar (digital or paper), schedule, prioritize – and still feel frustrated, overwhelmed and have no time!

Why is that?

I have a theory. I think most books, courses and systems are working on the pieces of the puzzle. But they are only working on the 10% of that iceberg that is above the water line!

And the 90% of the issue that is below the surface is exactly why the pieces don’t seem to fit together, no matter what you do.

We have all had the experience of committing to something – scheduling the time to take care of it – and then completely ignoring our plan. We forget. We get busy with something else. Some emergency is way more pressing in the moment. Our alarm didn’t go off. We got distracted online. Our errands ran long. The phone rang. The kids got sick. We got sick. It rained. The dog ate a sock. Blah, blah, blah.

And then we feel bad. We wonder what is wrong with us that we can’t get a simple task done. We can’t follow a simple plan. We can’t stick to a schedule.

So we stop trying. We decide that ‘it just doesn’t work for us.’

What if it isn’t us? What if it isn’t even the system or structure we are using?

Clearly, there is something else at play here. Some other unexamined commitment is in control of our time and our actions. And until we distinguish what that competing commitment is, whatever we try will have limited impact.

Something to think about: You can’t manage time anyway. If you can, go ahead, manage the next minute and tell me how it goes.

So, if you can’t manage time – what can you manage?

You can manage your energy, and you can manage your actions. And that’s where the next post will start!

 

©  Terry Monaghan, 2012, All Rights Reserved

Want to use this article in your ezine or website? You can, as long as you include this complete blurb with it:

Consultant, coach, speaker, trainer and entrepreneur, Terry Monaghan, publishes Now What, an ezine for entrepreneurs and professionals who want to double their productivity, improve their performance, and have a life! If you’re ready to jump start your performance and your results, then get your free tips now at http://www.TimeTriage.com.


Feeling overwhelmed? A little time triage may help

March 3, 2010

Time is part of a measuring system used to sequence events, to compare the duration of events and the intervals between them, and to quantify the motions of objects. (Or, time is a concept we invented to keep everything from happening at once.)

Triage is a process of prioritizing based on the severity of condition. This rations the subject of triage efficiently when resources are insufficient for all to be dealt with immediately. From the French trier, meaning to separate, sort, sift or select.

In the coming months, this column will look at various aspects of time management as it effects your everyday productivity and sense of accomplishment.

Ok, so why are we feeling so overwhelmed? Many people are complaining about it. Most people are dealing with it from time to time. And some feel like they have to run full tilt just to keep from falling behind. It all adds up to the sensation of being a hamster on a wheel – running all day long, and basically getting no where fast.

We don’t have to look very far to identify some of the contributing players. By all accounts, we spend up to an hour a day just looking for what we need, and most of us take up to three hours trying to deal with our email inbox.  That means half the day is already gone. Additionally, some studies indicate that we could easily be spending between 30 and 90 percent of our time in meetings.

This math does not work for me. We have accounted for over 100 percent of our workday, and we probably haven’t even begun to tackle our most important tasks.

Most time management books, articles and courses focus on getting more things done. Much of the emphasis is on ways to prioritize tasks to identify what is most important (and not necessarily most urgent). While some suggest delegating, my experience indicates that many entrepreneurs and solo-preneurs are missing this piece.

Getting through every single thing on your list of to-do’s doesn’t really matter much if the entire list is made up of items that ought to be delegated to someone else. You will have spent your whole day without focusing at all on what are the most important things you should pay attention to.

Instead of looking for ways to get more things done, you must begin to shift your focus to getting the right things done. This is absolutely critical for entrepreneurs and managers (and for everyone, really).

What are the right things? And how do you identify them in the face of the swirl of life and work and the never-ending flood of errands, phone calls, emails, and tasks?

That’s where time triage comes in. You can develop a quick and reliable way to review everything on your list to identify what you need to focus on and decide when you are going to give it your attention.

Make no mistake – if you don’t determine the when, the what is probably not going to happen.  Part of being overwhelmed is not carving out a specific day and time to get things done.

Let’s get to the triage. The first step is to figure out what you are going to use as a standard to determine the relative importance (the severity of the condition) of the myriad demands for your time and attention.

There are two standards I encourage my clients to use all the time. First, is this task going to move my goals forward?  Second, if the answer to the first question is yes – is doing this task the best use of my time?

You might think that if the answer to the first question is yes, then the second question must be yes, but that is not necessarily so.

For example, keeping the database of contacts up-to-date definitely forwards the goal of being in regular communication with clients, colleagues and prospects, but doing the work to keep it up-to-date is not a good use of your time at all.

Obviously, to use this method, you will need to know your goals and will need to determine just what is the best use of your time. And that is the single most powerful place to start.

So, here is an assignment for you. Take a little bit of time, and figure out what is the best use of your time. What is the unique contribution you make to the business – the one that no one else can make.

Maybe you are the face of the business, which means networking, creating contacts and building relationships is the best use of your time. Perhaps you are the creative force of the business, the idea person. In that case, having time to think and create is the best use of your time.

Many of my clients are working women, and spending high quality time with their kids is something that they identify as the one of the best uses of their time.

There is no right or wrong here – just the most effective allocation of your resources to produce the results you are committed to. And time, by far, is one of your most limited resources. You must use it wisely.

Just because something has to be done doesn’t mean you have to do it!

Terry Monaghan is CEO of Organizing For Your Life, LLC, a consulting firm specializing in productivity issues, and can be reached at terry@organizingforyourlife.com

(c) 2010 – Washington Business Journal. Used by permission.


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