How is it that we have more tips and tricks, tools and technology, calendars and checklists that ever before and we still always seen to be behind? How is it that we know more about time management than ever before, yet stress is at an all-time high?
There is strictly speaking no such thing as time management. Time marches on irrespective we like it or not. There is only self management. BUT there is something we forget – How we choose to spend our time isn’t just logical, it’s also emotional. Our feelings of Worry, frustration, guilt, fear etc. – dictate how we choose to spend our time, as much as anything that’s on our to-do list our in our calendars. Let me take a step back in explaining:
Early time management Theory started in the fifty’s – during the industrial revolution – it was very One dimensional and based on Efficiency. The idea was that if we could develop new technology that will help us do things faster – it will give us more time!
In the eighties Dr Stephen Covey brought in two dimensional time management strategy. The X axis was Urgency and the Y axis was Importance. It gave us a system for scoring our tasks – based on how they scored, we prioritised them. Prioritizing is focussing on what matters most. For the last 20 years, this has been the pervasive thinking around time management. It has become the buzz word – “get your priorities right,or get your priorities in order” – but that’s not entirely the case. There is a massive limitation to prioritizing those no-one talks about: There is nothing about prioritizing that creates more time!
All it does is take item No 7 on your to-do list and bumps it up to No 1, it does nothing to help you achieve the other items on your to do list either. Prioritizing is like juggling – We even talk about us “balancing or juggling a lot of activities” In this paradigm we can only do things faster and do more things. We cannot solve today’s time demands with yesteryears time management thinking (Rory Vaden – Procrastination on purpose)
Instead of thinking how we can fit in more in the available 24 hours we have, we should multiply time by giving ourselves emotional permission to spend time on things today that will give your more time tomorrow. This “significance calculation” changes everything .
While most people make decisions on Urgency and Importance, “Time Multipliers” think also of “Significance” of a task or time demand:
If Urgency is – How soon does it matter?
If Importance is – How Much does it matter?
Then Significance is – How long does it matter?
We normally think: “What is the most important thing we can do today ?” Multipliers think “What can I do today that will make tomorrow better?”
How can we do this practically? How do I make the decisions then?
The “Focus Funnel” (as proposed by Rory Vaden), is a thought process when decisions about time and activities have to be made.
When your tasks all come into the top of the funnel – first question is – can I Eliminate them? Is it even worth doing – my results may be driven by what I don’t do and not just what I do! It’s the permission to Ignore. Anything that I say “No” to today creates more time tomorrow!
The challenge is emotional – feeling guilty when we know we should say no, but afraid of hurting others’ feelings etc. Every time we say “yes” to something, we say “no” to an infinite number of other things.
Second Question is – if I can’t eliminate it, can I Automate it? If there is a process in place, it will save me time tomorrow. Online Bill payments for instance – might take an hour to do initially but then save 30 mins per month consequently. ROTI – return on time investment!
Third Question if it can’t be automated is –Can it be Delegated? Can I teach someone else how to do this? Most of us would probably say – ” but they just can’t do it as well as I can”. That may be true once or twice – but eventually they will do it just as good as you. This is giving you permission of “Imperfect” for a little while to have ROTI.
If it can’t be eliminated, automated or delegated, that means I must Do it. Question is now or later? If now – concentrate and focus – and just do it. It can wait till later – we Procrastinate on Purpose and put in back in the 3 question loop a few days later. Soon enough, one of the other strategies will fit the action.
Most often – we do eventually what we should have had the courage to do in the first place – Eliminate!! However if we keep on postponing a task that we SHOULD be doing, it obviously will have negative results in our life.
Click on the link below for a complete summary of the “Managing the Internal universe”