You can employ as many time management tools and techniques, as you like:
– the four box urgent/important model (Eisenhower method)
– prioritisation techniques
– goal setting
– diary management
– pareto analysis
– the 3 D’s
– time management software
But if you don’t get one thing right first, they’ll prove next to useless.
That one thing is you.
Things to resolve first.
1. People pleasing.
Sometimes we people-please because we want to be liked, or we have low self-esteem and find it difficult to be assertive, or if we suffer from co-dependency. Unless you solve these issues, you will never be able to manage your time effectively. If you are one of those people that genuinely likes to help everyone. That’s OK. There’s nothing wrong with it except when it comes to being able to effectively manage your time. Constant demands from others that you immediately react to, will always cause time management issues. You will never be able to manage your time if you are this type of person, unless you implement an effective solution.
Here’s one I have in my toolbox!
Set aside a specific time each week, even if it is a complete day where you let everyone know that you are free that day and that day only to help others. Communicate it wide and loud and clear. I’m not saying you can’t be flexible, but this should help keep your people pleasing manageable in a way that helps you make effective use of your time. Or alternatively, you could set aside one or two days a week where you are completely unavailable. Which then allows you to use those two days to achieve things that you usually don’t have time for. One of the key consequences of someone that always focuses on helping others is that they never take time out to look after themselves: to recharge, to nurture themselves, or just to rest. Helping others is like a bank account, if you don’t put money in, how can you lend it to others? (In this case we’re talking energy rather than money). If you don’t manage your own energy levels and they become depleted, how can you help others then?
2. Saying “no”.
I often work with people who just can’t seem to say “no” when someone asks them to do something, they immediately say “yes”. What often happens in these circumstances, especially within families or in the workplace, is that people stop asking for permission to allocate work to you, they’ll just give it to you. It’s far easier to give someone a task who always says “yes’ than to try and spend energy persuading someone else to do it who just might say “no”.
The solution is to learn to say “no” when you need to. It will be difficult at first because people won’t expect it and you will be enforcing a change to their behaviour; that of assuming you will always do what they want. But persevere, trust me it will soon pay off. Also don’t enter into a debate about why you are saying “no”, manipulators love that because they know that they can get you to change your mind!
3. Awareness of your limitations.
Have you any idea of how much sleep you need, when you need to eat, what you need to eat, which part of the day is best for you in terms of concentration, productivity? Do you know what type of learner you are? Are you aware of people who have a negative influence on you, energy vampires?
The more self-aware you are, the more you understand your capacity to perform optimally. So get to know these things about yourself.
4. Accepting that you are a workaholic.
If you are reading this article, perhaps being a workaholic is beginning to stop working for you. I have written a whole article on being a workaholic if you would like to read it. REF.
The solution is to change. Try to establish why you are a workaholic. Use any or all of the solutions suggested in the other points. If you can’t apply the solutions for yourself then maybe you need some additional support. So go get it!
5. Accepting reality.
Life happens. We all know that. People get ill or injured, so do you. Legislation dictates delivery timescales, so do utility suppliers, couriers, etc. that don’t necessarily fit with our plans, but need to be accommodated. We have to allow for these instances, so we must have “plan B’s” and a little flexibility. If we are too rigid our time management collapses. Flexibility can be establish in many ways including the next point.
6. Understanding the value of your support network
What support do you have if any? What form does you support take? What is their availability? Their expertise? Their level of ability? Do you know?
If you don’t have a support network, develop one. Understand it’s capabilities. If you have one already, make sure you are aware of it’s ability to support you.
Even if we believe other wise, no man is an island. Two heads are always better than one, even if it’s only to prove your head is right! My life became much. Much easier once I developed and used a support network and more importantly making sure I take time to maintain my relationships with the people in it!
7. Being aware of your own needs
Finally, are you aware of your own needs? Do you need to operate as a starter or a finisher? Do you like to focus on detail or big picture? Do you like to work on the exciting stuff first or delay gratification? What type of work/life balance works for you? It’s not 50/50 for everyone!
The more you design your time around your needs the more effective and the more productive you will be. Not to mention more happy!
So before you being to invest in learning about the numerous time management techniques, or invest in any time management software or consultants. Tackle the key issue first.