The fallacy of time management

One of the things that ‘gets my goat’ is the overuse of the term ‘time management’. Call me a pedant but to the best of my knowledge nobody has yet found a way to manage time. You cannot save it, no matter how hard you might try the seconds, minutes and hours still tick by.  You cannot buy any more of it, you can only ‘spend’ it.

Mens Hand Watch Closeup

What we can do, however, is manage how we utilise our time and thus, it is not a case of managing time it is a case of managing ourselves.

In a recent presentation I spoke about 5 things that stop us using our time as effectively and efficiently as we might; all of these are things that stop us performing at our optimum and should be avoided or eliminated.

  • Interruptions – things such as people ‘dropping by’, nuisance/not important phone calls,  email notifications, calendar notifications and notifications on smart phones. All of these disrupt what we are doing and take our attention away from the task in hand.
  • Distractions –  things such Facebook, twitter and other social networking sites, web browsing, games such as Farmville, candy crush saga etc.. and most email. These are things that we voluntarily allow to take us away from the task in hand, when we are looking for an ‘escape’.
  • Not having deadlines – deadlines are a great way of driving action and focusing. In not having deadlines we can allow tasks to drag on longer than they need to. Parkinson’s Law states that the amount of time that one has to perform a task is the amount of time it will take to complete the task
  • Perfectionism – this is a good one, this is where a task never gets completed as we think there is more to add or it is not ‘perfect’ and thus the task potentially never gets delivered
  • Attention span – with the best will in the world most people have a limit on the amount of time that they can focus wholeheartedly on one task without their mind and attention wandering off. It is suggested in some circles that the maximum time that a person can focus is around 90 minutes

I also shared 10 practical tips for improving personal effectiveness and your results

  1. Get clarity on what you are going to do & why
  2. Know where & when you work at your best
  3. Plan your work & activities accordingly
  4. Honour your work slots like they were client meetings
  5. Prioritise the important things
  6. Get onerous tasks done first – “Eat the frog”
  7. Apply the 20:80 rule to avoid perfectionism (Pareto law)
  8. Use small segments of time productively
  9. Reward yourself
  10. Take Action!

If you’d like to find out a little more about this go here and watch my webinar on the ‘Demons to Personal Effectiveness