As our society becomes busier and more demanding, people find they have less time but more responsibilities. Work demands more productivity, families have more scheduled activities, and even your hobbies need to be put in your appointment book as “scheduled activities.” How can you manage your time, when your time is managing you?
Time management programs are a dime a dozen (well, they are a LITTLE more expensive than that), and they all start from the same basic premise: create “To Do” lists, prioritize the items according to some criteria, and do them. Well, that’s pretty easy to say. How do you find the time to make the list? How do you find the time to set the criteria to determine the priority of the items? What happens when crisis after crisis screws up your list?
Time management MUST become a habit, not just another activity that you schedule; otherwise, time management itself will have to be prioritized along with all the other activities demanding your time. How do you make this a habit? By making it happen unconsciously, like breathing.
Starting today, take a small notebook that fits inside your pocket and write down as many activities that you perform throughout the day, as close to when you perform them as possible. These are NOT journals or diaries – they are simply jotting something down. They are not detailed time sheets. These are YOUR notes for YOU. For example: “8:30 opened mail; 8:50 call from Smith; 9:15 call to Lopez; 9:25 reviewed memo; etc.” That’s it. Simply record what you do.
At some point, you will look at this list. You’ll see that you are spending too much time on the phone with Smith, or that you really WANTED to write a certain memo but didn’t get around to it, so maybe tomorrow you need to do that first. This is the beginnings of making time management a habit. YOU will then begin to decide what system works for you, because YOUR habit will want to make this happen.
Time management is critical to success in almost anything you do, whether it is planning a covert military operation or your kid’s birthday party. But time management is foreign to most people, and commercial systems often feel forced and artificial. By making time management a habit, an internal imperative, you will gain control over your time without having to take time out of your day to do it. And isn’t that the point of time management anyway?
ERIK CARTER has been weightlifting since high school and practicing karate since college. He maintains a fitness portal at http://fitnessportal.bravehost.com. He also promotes “Complete Sales Package For YOUR Success (http://salespackage.bravehost.com)” and “4 Steps To Success(http://4steps.bravehost.com),” 2 sites designed to help you start or expand any on-line business.