They say time is the most valuable thing we have. We can’t bring back time. But if you think about it, what is time? Moreover, what is time management? Before you can even begin to think about managing time, you should learn what time is. The dictionary defines time as “the point or period at which things occur.” So time is when things happen.
Types of time
Did you know that you could separate time into two types? One is the clock time and the other one is real time. As you know, there are 60 seconds in a minute, 60 minutes in an hour, 24 hours in a day and 365 days in a year in clock time. So all the clock time passes equally. Imagine you have your 50th birthday. You turn 50 and that means you are exactly 50 years old: no more and no less.
Real time is quite different. It is more interesting and we can in some sense control it. All time is relative in real time. Time can fly and can also go slowly depending on what you are doing. Imagine yourself sitting at the jury duty: one hour can feel like 1 year, right? And then think about your kid: your little baby is 12 years old now, but you have not felt how those 12 years have passed.
Where do we live?
So where do we live: in clock time or real time? We live in real time, where all time flies when we are having fun or drags when we are doing our taxes. And clock time is irrelevant: we don’t live in or even have access to clock time. And that is why time management tips and systems don’t work: they are designed to manage clock time. The one big difference between these times is that real time is mental. It exists between our ears and we create it. And if you think about it, whatever you create yourself you can manage, right? So the thoughts you sometimes have that scream in your ears “I don’t have enough time,” “today is not the right time” are all manageable by you.
Now let’s get kind of psychological: there are only three ways to spend time. Those are thoughts, conversations, and actions. And it does not matter what kind of business you own or what kind of work you do: your work will be composed of those three things.
Besides those three ways of spending time, there are also interruptions in our time. And you can be frequently interrupted or pulled in different directions. And interruption is something you cannot control: you cannot eliminate it. But one thing you can control is deciding how much time you will spend on them and how much time you will spend on thoughts, conversations, and actions that will lead you to success.
I will not bore you with the usual tips on time management: scheduling your day, taking brakes, etc. You should rather practice the following techniques. And only then you can master your own time.
#1. Record your thoughts, conversations, and activities
You could carry a schedule where you would record all your thoughts, conversations and activities for a week. Here is the main reason for that: you will understand how much you can get done during the day. But most importantly, you will see where all your precious moments are going. And seeing how much time is actually spent producing results and how much time is wasted on unproductive things will help you manage your time better.
#2. Time blocks
To-do lists don’t really work: they only get longer and longer to the point where they are unworkable. However, appointment books work. But here is the great part: make appointments with yourself and create time blocks for your high-priority thoughts, conversations, and actions. Schedule them: when they will begin and end, and keep those appointments. And don’t forget to spend at least 50% of your time engaged in thoughts, activities, and conversations that produce most of your results.
As we talked about it already, interruptions are part of our time. And you can schedule them. Plan those interruptions where you will be pulled away from what you are doing. For example, plan to have “office hours.” Isn’t “office hours” another way of saying “planned interruptions?”
#4. Plan to plan
You should spend some time, approximately 30 minutes, to plan your day. And don’t you dare start your day until you complete your time plan. And keep in mind that the most important time of your day is the time you schedule to schedule time.
#5. Have the end point in your mind
Having the end point of any situation you are in will help you to get out of it. And just like that, take 5 minutes before every call or task. Decide what result you want to get. Have a picture of success in your mind before you start. And if it didn’t work the first time and you didn’t get the results you wanted, take the time to understand what was missing. This step will help you become a pro of time management because you will save time for later on.
#6 Do not disturb
Make sure everyone around you knows that you have a “do not disturb” period in your day when you absolutely need to be alone. For example, when you have to get work done and can’t afford any interruptions, put up your “do not disturb” sign. Also, practice not answering the phone. It is fine: you can let the phone ring as long as it wants and just not pick it up. And if you can block out other destructions like Facebook and other social media, that would be great, too. Well, unless you use those tools to generate business.
#7. The 80/20 rule
Remember: it is not possible to get everything done. So it is fine to leave some work for tomorrow. Also, remember that odds are good that 20% of your thoughts, conversations, and activities produce 80% of your results.
Now, if you can keep the discipline and practice these, you might be able to nail time management like a pro. Remember, that it is all about understanding what time really is. After that, you can control it however you want. It is all in your head. And we could say that time management is strongly correlated with maintaining a work life balance. So if you have a small business, read how to keep your home and your business happy.