“Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem.
We all have twenty-four hour days.”
I often hear people say things like “I’d do that if only I had the time“, “There aren’t enough hours in the day for me to start that” or “I’m rushing from morning to night” or something similar. Do you ever say anything like this? Or think it?
How would you feel if I told you it is poor time management -not lack of time- that is one of the biggest barriers to personal and professional success? It’s what we do with our time, no matter how little, that counts.
What do you say to yourself about time? Take a moment to reflect on any phrases or justifications you make about time. Write down any phrases that come to your mind.
When you look at these phrases, are they positive or negative? More often than not we pre-program ourselves to have an issue with time from the way we speak to ourselves about it.
Take your negative phrases, above, and turn them into positives. For example: “there are never enough hours in the day to do everything I have to do” (negative) can turn into “I always have enough time to achieve what I want to achieve”. Feel the difference?
Whilst we can’t create more hours in the day, we can and do have an influence over how we think about time and also how we spend the 24 hours we have in each day. But how aware are we really of how we spend our time? Do you know?
Of course, we think we know but until we analyse that time and how it’s spent, we can’t really know. This is why I want you to complete a time tracking record over the next seven days. Draw up a table with fifteen minute time slots over a twenty-four hour period. I want you to log what you spend your time on and who you spend it with.
After seven days, analyse your time tracking record. With your time log in front of you, answer the following questions:
What do you think about how you use your time, looking back at the time log now?
Was there anything that surprised you?
Was there anything that disappointed you?
How do you waste your own time? (Be honest and list the ways)
Do you allow others to waste your time? Who? How?
What could you do with this time if you ‘saved’ it?
Looking back at your time log, how have other people influenced your use of time?
Is one person dominant in this? Or is it a couple of people or a group?
Why does this occur? What does this say about your relationship with them?
Are you spending time with the people you really want to be with, at weekends for example?
You may be surprised by how you spend your time over the course of a week and with whom. You may identify particular themes or time slots you are especially unproductive. Perhaps it’s spending time with colleagues after hours instead of your family or you find it difficult to say no to a friend who frequently asks for favours and this takes you away from completing your own tasks. Sometimes our time is dominated by one individual; sometimes it is ‘wasted’ by spending a lot of time with a group of people.
If you’re wasting time that means you aren’t focusing sufficiently on what is on hand. An hour of focus on an issue generally brings more results than five hours of allowing yourself to get distracted.
You need to manage your time well. Find that spare time you need and schedule specific times to work on your goals of personal and professional success. What 3 actions can you take right now to make yourself more time efficient?
Oksana Tashakova, founder of Wealth Dynamics Unlimited, is a personal branding expert and entrepreneurial educator.