Answer this question, and you will be closer to better time management.
Many of my clients are surprised that time management is key to unlocking their wellbeing.
Be it anxiety related to emotional distress or feeling you do not have time to take care of your health, the main factor stems from our relationship with time or time management.
Ever felt you do not have enough hours in the day? The idea of stopping to review why this is happening, understand what can be adjusted and how to make more efficient choices seems counter-productive. Stepping back and understanding our role in creating chaos is key to our solution.
The standard definition of time management is as follows:
Time management is the process of planning and exercising conscious control of time spent on specific activities, especially to increase effectiveness, efficiency, and productivity.
This definition implies that the individual has a conscious ability to control the way they approach and prioritise tasks and activities. So why is it many perceive time to happen to them rather than time is ours to manage?
In scientific and theoretical speak, time is considered a personal construct, which is influenced by how we interact with the world around us, how we tackle responsibilities, and how we perceive our role in controlling our time.
Some psychologists even like to give you labels:Firefighter, Multitasker, Perfectionist, Overcommitted, Under-Estimator or Wild Procrastinator.
Do you feel comfortable with any of these labels?
What these labels fail to address is the individual underlining need; a question I often ask clients is:
Are you a Yes or No person?’
This question enables clients to consider their underlining need for acceptance and their need for control.
If you consider yourself a ‘yes’ person, you may find you are often feeling overwhelmed, resentful for accepting requests, consistently putting the needs of others first and feeling time is never enough.
What does this mean for your time management ability? Well, as you might have guessed not too efficient and possibly non-existent.
Those who find that time is out of their control are more likely to suffer from stress, anxiety and depression. So, it is therefore essential that we see time as our most valuable resource and learn the necessary skills and our relationship towards time management.
Time is your most valuable resource.
If we see time as our most valuable resource, we are more likely to guard it more vigorously. I guide clients on how best to say ‘no’, therefore empowering them, increasing productivity, which in turn impacts the company’s bottom line. If companies place more importance on training managers and staff on time management, then everyone benefits.
Causes of workplace stress
Unfortunately, in the UK, 40% of employees complain that workload is their greatest stress point. As a result, the workplace contains underperforming and overstretched individuals, which lead to inefficient time management or increased mental health concerns resulting in low productivity.
Effective time management skills training should include communication skills, negotiations, delegation, people management and self-awareness – with taking personal control and responsibility of their time.
So how do we take personal responsibilities, here are 3 initial steps to consider.
1. Be obsessive
Be clear on your priorities, what is important to you in your life, right now; is it climbing the career ladder and having a balanced home life. Or is it spending more time at home and managing work demands? If you want to improve your health, then you need to make that a priority and allocate time specifically to do this task.
Whatever it is, set aside time for those priorities, yes you need to work 8 hours a day, go the gym at least twice a week, spend 2 hours with the kids every evening. Set these priorities in place and add them to your calendar, and your aim is to protect those priorities.
2. Be realistic with your time
Identify how many live hours you have in your day. You may start your day at 7 am and want to finish at 6 pm. How much can you fit into your day?
So you are contracted to work 40 hours a week or 16 hours, ask yourself ‘if I work over these hours what am I going to have to sacrifice and what will I gain in return’. If the loss outweighs the reward, then you have your answer.
3. Divide & Conquer
So finally, prioritise what is important to you to achieve. Rank in accordance to what you deem important. Then carve your time and allocate dedicated time to those key priorities.
Example – Time Priority Exercise (12 hours live hours)
The discussed time management exercises above are just one of the many examples available. It may provide an initial insight on what your priorities are, but the critical outtake here is guarding what you value and look closely at why you struggle with time management.