Vital Keys to Effective Time Management
by Ormond Rankin
The concept of “time management” is really a misnomer. There is no such thing as “time management.” Try as you may, you cannot manage or control time – it just keeps on “ticking, ticking, ticking” into the future. However, the one thing you can manage is yourself and where you choose to invest your time.
Time management is really life management. There are loads of books and tapes out there on the subject of time management and I’ve taken the opportunity to read and listen to many of them. So as we turn our focus to managing this thing called “time”, I’ll share a few fundamental strategies that have made the real difference in time management for me and hundreds of others.
We have become a nation of plate spinners. Many of us have become like the clowns we see in the circus, running back and forth trying to keep all of the plates spinning. Inevitably, we see them crash, one by one. Life becomes very hectic and tiring in the fast lane. We use our “busyness” as a measure of our self-worth and importance. We define our sense of purpose and meaning in life in terms of our “To Do” list. As Will Rogers so eloquently put it, “Half of our life is spent trying to find something to do with the time we’ve rushed through life trying to save.”
According to Juliet Schor, author of “The Overworked American”, we now work an extra 164 hours each year (equivalent of one full month). She also points out another interesting statistic; the average American works two more months a year more than most Europeans (four weeks of vacation a year are mandated by law in Switzerland and Greece and workers in France and Spain must take five weeks).
I’m sure to many parts of the world our lives seem a bit out of balance! Given these statistics and the daunting challenge of continually trying to “find more time”, is there any hope for us? The answer is a resounding YES! Read on.
There are a few essential keys to effective time management that are time-tested and can bring great results in your quest to better manage time. This week I’ll provide a general overview of the main areas and in upcoming columns explore each area in greater detail.
- Clarify your vision and set written, measurable goals – For business owners (and even those who don’t own a business) a lack of a clear vision for your personal life or business can jeopardize your ability to effectively manage your time. Without a long-term vision or goals, time tends to have less importance to you and therefore you are more likely to let “it” manage you.
- Understand Urgent vs. Important – Stephen Covey, in his books, “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” and “First Things First” taught us the four quadrant model of Urgent vs. Important. This is a great model that applies in life or business and one that must be understood and implemented if you want to invest your time in the most effective manner.
- Make use of effective planning tools – There are several excellent tools that are simple to use and can help any individual better manage his or her time. Good habits must be formed to allow us to take full advantage of these tools.
- Make every moment count – This is all about attitude and mindset. Our entire approach to better managing of our time will succeed or fail based on the how we think about this precious resource of time.
Those who succeed in business and life have learned the valuable habits, disciplines and use of effective tools associated with time management. Stay tuned as we dig into these areas and uncover the “hidden treasures” of time management.