How far should you go with regards to implementing time management into your life? Should you track how you spent each minute of your time? In this article we delve into the world of time management and how it will become part of your life (and why that’s a good thing).
“I don’t want to track my time”.
“I work on so many projects, keeping track of my activities and to-do’s wouldn’t work for me”.
“Time management costs more time than it helps free up”.
These are some of the most common responses I get from people that don’t use time management methods. They think they are too busy. They simply can’t see the benefits of time management. It’s true, time management and upkeep of a system does take its toll. You can’t just want to manage your time better, without any investment or effort from your side. You will need to do something. You will need to change.
Personally I use a mix of Stephen Covey’s approach to time management and Getting Things Done. This has worked wonderfully for me. Although at first the GTD approach cost me a lot of time. It took me about half a year before I had the right tool to match the system.
But in retrospect I am very glad that I learned about GTD and time management in general. GTD was my first step into the world of time management, increased productivity and a more focused mind. Getting Things Done has helped my create more room in my mind. It helps me be more creative. Which seeps through to all parts of life.
For me, time management has drastically changed my life. Subtle, but powerful changes, like the 2-Minute Rule and externalizing was is internal (e.g. getting your to-do list out of your head and onto paper) have drastically shaped the way how I do things now.
But, has it gone too far? I use lists for almost anything. From grocery shopping to what I want to do on my Saturday. For someone that does not use time management techniques this might seem a bit too much. But for me, personally, it works like a charm. I am just not good at remembering a lot of things, so my time management tools can do that for me. I want to have a clear head and to do so I need to externalize what’s on my mind, I write down my to-do’s on a list, I set clear goals and work on my highest priority tasks first. This is what time management has taught me and what has changed my way of life. Perhaps your way of life differs, perhaps tools and time management techniques feel constraining to you. As if they limit the room for spontaneity.
Everyone is different, so it’s not up to me to say everyone should use time management for all aspects of their life.
I have blogged about this before (please read: How you perceive time and it’s effect on time management). Let’s talk a bit about “Kairos”. The way you think about time shapes the way how you feel working under pressure, it makes you present (or not) and it defines how much your time is worth to you.
Is 1 minute worth 1 minute?
One minute in the office is worth less to me than one minute in the weekends. And a half hour in which I am writing and experiencing flow is worth way more than a meeting that takes up half an hour of my time. This is what is known as “Kairos” time. It is expressed in ways like: “Did you have a good time?”.
The opposite, “Chronos” time , is quantifiable and can be added up or detracted. This is expressed in ways like: “Hurry up, we don’t have much time left.” “How long did you need to complete that task?”.
“Chronos” time is about counting minutes, hours and days. It’s about time as a quantifiable metric. And, time is exactly that. But not always.
Some time is much more valuable to you. This is what time management can help you recognize. Time management can help you prioritize your time, so you spend as much of your life in “Kairos” time. You can make your activities and priorities more about “Kairos” time. About doing the right things. Time management is less about effectiveness (doing things the right way), then it is about doing the right things (doing the right things). You should focus more on the latter.
This is a good thing. It’s good to use time management so you can focus on the things that are most important in your life. When you start using time management the different parts, techniques and methods are sure to seep into other parts of your life as well. In this way you will not only increase your efficacy, but also your effectiveness. Which, once again, means doing the right things, not doing things the right way.
In my opinion you can not practice time management without having clear priorities, which means you need to set goals. And that it very important. Without goals any decision you make is good. Without goals any action you perform takes you to the right path. Without goals anything you do could be either good or bad, but you don’t know. Every action is both a good action and a bad action, it just doesn’t matter.
You need goals in life. They help you get where you want to go. They are your compass. Time management is nothing without priorities and priorities can’t exist without goals.
And what is life without goals, ambitions or dreams?