Time is precious. Time is money. Time is fleeting. Time does not stand still. Which of these sentences is true?
I have issues with time. I think that if I do not look at a clock, time does not pass. Time is my most precious asset and my most elusive one. I keep thinking that if I just had more time I could…
…conquer the world!
I would like to pass on the very best method for managing time. The ultimate kick-ass trick to make time bend to your will, ready?
It won’t. Ever. Accept it and move on.
Time can only do what time does: pass, at a steady and unrelenting pace. How you think about time and what you do with it is what you can control.
Some people are born with accurate and reliable inner clocks. Some of us are not. For those of us who are time challenged, those who always have a firm grasp of time look down on us as lazy and not taking anything responsibly or seriously – after all, if we did we’d be on time!
But some of us live in our own little time zones and they do not match the International Atomic Time clock. If you look up Time on Wikipedia, humans have come up with so many ways to measure time over the centuries that one could say we are overly obsessed with it.
In my world, time expands to the amount I need for a project. It slows down when I need it to, it’s as elastic as I need it to be. Then, bam! I come to myself and look around in total bewilderment. It’s always such a rude surprise to finish a project and realize that days, or even months have passed for the rest of the world but not for me. It’s only been minutes, hasn’t it? My own little time warp, no Tardis required.
Hmmmm, that must be how I lost the entire year of 2010.
But all that aside, I have learned a few skills over the years to manage (how I spend my) time. I have consumed at least a billion (give or take a few) books, articles, videos, leaflets, brochures, classes and epiphanies on Time Management in my desperate search to gain more; time, that is. I look back on how much time I’ve spent trying to gain more time and it makes my brain twist. What I know is that all the books say “this is how your brain works and you need to do things this way”. In reality, that is the way the author’s brain works and how things work best for him/her, usually a left brained linear thinker (some exceptions here, notably Time Management From The Inside Out by Julie Morgenstern.
The best things I’ve learned (so far) are that time is not money but you can manage it like it was. You pay for the must-haves first (rent, food, transportation) and have fun with what’s left over (Doctor Who videos). In other words, you decide what activities are the important ones, the activities that will get you closer to your goals. Make those the “must-haves” and the activities that will not cause the world to end, or the space-time continuum to collapse in on itself (and us), are what you do with what’s left over. The goal is not to stuff more things to-do in your time (the shop at Wal-Mart approach), but to spend your time on more quality things to-do (the shopping at Tiffany’s approach).
Find your working style. As important as it is to know what your goals are and what time of day is your best for productive work, it is also essential to know what your working style is. I recently took an online course called 7 Days To Better Productivity & Time Management. I learned a lot that was very helpful and far less complicated than most of the books I’ve read. [Are books overly complicated because they feel they have to fill up all those pages?] But, one of the best take-aways was the discussion on our working style. I always thought I was a multi-tasker that liked to have a million projects going at one time so I could jump between them when I get bored. It turns out that I’m a deep dweller. What I really like is having 2 or 3 projects lined up, but to work on one at a time. Deeply into it-enter the time warp-totally immersed, until it’s done. Or, until I hit a snag that forces me to come up for air. Then I can happily shift to something else until the snag is resolved or I have finished the something else. This has it’s own set of issues (the UFO pile) but, not related to today’s topic. When I do my usual multiple projects at once with 18 in the queue I get overwhelmed and start playing solitaire – talk about poor time management. So, I have my (short) project line-up, but just concentrate on one (or two) at a time. I know this will drive some people bats, but the new knowledge has altered the universe for me.
But wait, there’s more! My secret weapon to deal with this challenge of living in the real-world time zone is (drum roll, please)… my timer! I set my timer to bring me back into reality so other things can get done as well. I need to resurface to fix dinner? Set the timer! I need to remember to put the clothes in the dryer? Set the timer! You get the idea. I’m not saying it works all the time (ask DH), occasionally I’m really good at ignoring the timer, but it’s a huge improvement!
The wrap-up: Knowing my working style and best time of day to focus, added to what activities are working towards my goal, equals much better use of time. And that is Time Management in a nut shell.
I schedule large blocks of time for my current most-important project. I make sure I have small blocks of time for the other things. I use the timer to bring me back to the real world.
Now that my space is organized (OK, parts of them are), and I’ve learned how to manage my time (mostly, practice makes perfect), I can start being more productive.