Just about everyone has heard of time management. Countless books have been written on the subject and countless motivational speakers pontificate on the idea. There are even television shows that occasionally use time management as the main focus of a program, either demonstrating how to do it, why to do it, and what happens if you don’t do it.
The problem with this overload of exposure and information is that many people are still left wondering what they are doing wrong. They try all the tricks, tips, and procedures that various experts urge them to incorporate into their lives. Yet, they still can’t seem to organize their lives so that they are masters of their time.
Part of the issue is that people sometimes are not clear on exactly what time management is and what it can do. As with many things, we sometimes attempt to make this concept much more complicated than it actually is. As a result, we become so rigid in how we attempt to manage our time that we defeat our own purpose. So is it any wonder that we decide that the effort is just not worth it, and go back to simple reacting to what is happening around us rather than proactively taking control?
If you’ve not completely given up on attempting to integrate sound time management ideas and strategies into your life, keep reading. Rather than attempting to rehash all the many concepts, theories, and other complicated presentations of this simple principle, let’s explore the basics of time management and then come to some conclusions on how to pick and choose the right approaches and the right settings to make use of them.
Before we get into any theories on how to engage in time management, it’s important to define just exactly what we mean by the term. Once established, it will be easier to move on to what to do and when to do it.
Just What Is Time Management?
Forget all the complicated and sometimes confusing definitions you’ve heard in the past. Time management is actually very simple. It is the way you choose to spend your time.
Whether you realize it or not, you already do engage the process of time management. You simply can’t help it. If you are living and breathing, and make any move to do anything, you are applying a process in time management. In short, you are choosing what to do with your time.
What this means is that there is good time management and bad time management. When you choose to engage in productive or good time management, you are organizing the tasks or actions you want to accomplish into a logical and cohesive progression that will allow you to complete each and every task within an equitable time frame. At its best, this type of time management does not create stress or drive up your blood pressure. Instead, it actually makes the day run smoother, and empowers you a little more each time you can strike one action item off your list.
Good time management is a proactive process. You define what must be done within a given period of time, prioritize those action items and then develop a plan of action that will make it possible to successfully accomplish each one within the time allotted. With your plan laid out, you then take the initiative to start at the beginning and keep going until everything on your list is done.
By contrast, bad time management does not make the day pleasant at all. You are much more likely to feel constantly stressed out, as action items appear as if from nowhere. People are constantly demanding to know what a report was not completed or why there is no food in the cupboard.
Bad time management leaves you feeling powerless to do anything to improve the situation. The hopeless feeling continues to grow until you more or less shut down, deciding that those action items weren’t that important anyway. You put yourself into a state where you basically move through the day, never quite getting a handle on what is going on and only accomplishing something when pressured by outside forces to do so. At the end of the day, there are still many action items left to accomplish, leaving you a general feeling of having failed.
If you are still reading, then there is a good chance that you recognize a bit of yourself in both these scenarios. Most of us do tend to engage in both good and bad time management from time to time. The goal will be to rethink the way we apply time management principles so that we are exercising good time management more of the time and finding ourselves bogged down due to bad time management much less often.