Time is often a scarce commodity in businesses. If we just had more hours in the day, we could achieve so much more, grow our businesses faster, see more customers, create more opportunities, design more products and so on. Some people respond to this pressure by working longer hours to get things done, but that approach reaches some natural limitations eventually.
When we work with financial practices to grow their client base, improve referrals, increase profitability etc., not ‘having any time’ often becomes a blocker or easy excuse for not moving things forward. ‘Finding time’ is therefore often one of the pressing aspects we need to help our clients with. Out of our 14 standard leadership and management training courses ‘Prioritisation and Time Management’ is also one of the most popular 1-day courses we run, underlining the recurring challenge this issue represents.
The truth about time
However, we need to recognise some fundamental truths about time:
Everyone gets exactly 24 hours a day. No more. No less!
Time can’t be owned, borrowed or saved!
So, the reality is that you can’t find more time!
Is it therefore about managing time better?
The ‘Time Management’ misnomer
Time management is not new. Approaches and models of Time Management have gone through a number of waves.
The first wave was characterised by notes and check lists.
The second wave was focused on calendars and appointment books.
The third wave introduced the important idea of prioritisation and comparing the relative value of activities based on their relationship to goals and targets. It introduced the concept of daily planning and specific plans to achieve the goals.
While the third wave of time management thinking made a significant advance, it appears for many people to be too scheduled, too restrictive, and open to interruption.
It is now being recognised that ‘Time Management’ is probably a misnomer – the challenge is not to manage time, but to manage ourselves.
Time Management is about your choices and your responses to events around you.
The bottom line is that you have to take control. It starts with a commitment to change. It isn’t easy; there are often many habits that will need to change. Your understanding and mind-set around what you do with your time may have to change quite fundamentally.
The question you need to ask yourself is: How do I become more effective in the use of my time, so the hours I work and the resources I have available, are used effectively, on what is important, to create the results I am aiming for?
This is a rather long convoluted question, but within it lies a number of the critical aspects you need to address to become effective. You need to consider questions such as:
What results am I aiming for?
How much of my time do I spend on activities that will get me closer to the results I am aiming for?
What is important to me, and what isn’t?
What do I base my priorities on, and to what extent are these aligned with what is important?
Who is in control of my time? What affect do others and their demands have on me, and how much of my time am I in control of?
How effective am I with the time I spend on activities?
I hope this has given you food for thought and challenged your thinking somewhat.
Please share your thoughts on the above. Do you have any particular subjects or challenges you would like us to cover in future articles?
If you are interested in taking part in a one day course on Prioritisation and Time Management, further details can be found here.