Alan Lakein, one of the most well-known time-managements experts, once said, “Time = life; therefore, waste your time and waste of your life, or master your time and master your life.” You need help for those time management myths that are causing you to fail. Here’s how to beat them.
The struggle of time management.
While that may be true, the fact of the matter is that mastering you time is a struggle for most of us. As such, we turn to a wide range of resources to help us more effectively manage our time. The thing is not every tool, book, course, or hack involving time management is going to benefit you.
You will need to be discerning.
In other words, just because one individual had success with one technique doesn’t make it the “best” way to solve your time management conundrum. It may actually set you up to fail.
Before going any further on your time management quest, you should first be aware of the following six time management myths — and how to beat them. This way you can identify what’s been holding you back, as well as become weary of strategies that promise the impossible.
1. Time management means getting more done in less time.
When you think of time management do you associate it with getting more things done in a less amount of time? This can be a common misconception. Sometimes, time management may mean doing fewer things of importance. After all, it’s impossible to do everything we want to accomplish in a day.
But if we prioritize what there is to do, and focus only on completing these priorities, then we can be more effective and productive.
How can you prioritize for better time management? Start by doing the following:
- Write down the tasks you need to work-on.
- Assign numbers to each task by importance.
- Use a calendar app to block out time for these tasks.
- Stop putting other people’s priorities before yours.
- Repeat and evaluate what worked and what didn’t until you’re able to prioritize faster and easier.
2. A to-do-list will save the day.
Search for time management tips and I guarantee that this will be at the top of the list. Don’t get me wrong. To-do-lists can work. But, they don’t work for everyone. In fact, a to-do list has been known do more harm than good in some cases.
Have you ever been rejected by your list?
Let’s say that you’ve created a to-do-list, but weren’t able to cross every item off. How do you think you’ll feel at the end of the day? Probably disappointed.
A temptation — or a need?
Additionally, there can be a temptation with to-do-lists to include less demanding tasks that you were going to do anyway. These items include duties like email or exercise. Crossing these items may give you a dopamine boost, but it prevents you from getting the more important things done.
Move quickly through the list.
If you are the type of person that really likes to put down many tasks and cross them off — go ahead. Just realize what you are doing. I’ve been known to hurry and do something and then write it on the list and cross it off. This is okay — if you have trained yourself to work this way. Understand your workings — work through those parts quickly — and move on.
Some say to stop these lists.
Because of this consultant Daniel Markovitz writes in the Harvard Business Review, “Stop making to-do lists. They’re simply setting you up for failure and frustration.”
Instead, Markovitz suggests, “Take your tasks off the to-do list, estimating how much time each of them will consume, and transferring them to your calendar. (Don’t forget to leave time to process your email. Leave some empty space — one to two hours — each day to deal with the inevitable crises that will crop up.) In essence, you’re making a production plan for your work.”
3. You have to wake-up early.
Here’s another popular piece of advice you’ll hear regarding time management; wake-up earlier.
People claim that by waking-up early you can get more done in a day. This makes sense because if you’re the only one awake there aren’t any distractions. What’s more, those who wake-up bright are early feel more awake, refreshed, and productive.
The catch? Waking up early is only effective if you’re a morning person.
If you’re a night owl, then don’t force yourself to start waking-up at four am. You just have to make some tweaks in your schedule. Start by having a more consistent sleeping schedule. If you stay up until one am — then try to make sure you get quality sleep from one am to eight or nine am.
Protect your time.
Also, protect your times in the evening for uninterrupted work. For example, after the kids are asleep, work on an important tasks, email, or schedule your day for tomorrow.
4. You have to schedule activities into every minute of your day.
I get it. You have a million things to do. But, scheduling activities into every minute of your day is counterproductive.
Are you working like a machine?
Working nonstop like a machine can leave you feeling drained and stressed. Even worse, what happens when there is an emergency like your car breaking down on the way to work, a network crash, or your child getting sent home from school because they’re sick? Because your schedule is so jam-packed you don’t have time to put out these fires.
Where are your empty spaces?
Instead, leave empty spaces in your schedule throughout the day. This gives you time to de-stress and recharge. It also gives you flexibility in case plans change.
5. A perfect time management system exists.
There is an endless amount of time management advice available. That’s not a bad thing. These systems can work. The problem is that if you believe that there’s always going to be a better system out there you’re going to be always be searching for this “perfect” system, as opposed to sticking with a system that works for you.
The truth is that the perfect time management system doesn’t exist. Instead of being on an endless quest, start using one time management tip at a time. It it doesn’t work, then try out something different.
Be sure to start with smaller or shorter goals.
Just make sure that you start with small, incremental changes that help you achieve short-term goals. For example, you could start batching tasks like emails or phone calls. It may only save you 20 minutes a day, but that eventually will turn into hours.
6. Time can be “managed.”
When you think of it, the term “time management” doesn’t really make sense. After all, the number of hours in a day, days in a week, etc, are already determined. And there’s absolutely nothing you can do to change that.
Stop obsessing about something that you can’t control and start focusing on how to use your time more effectively. Start with the things that are in your control, such as getting enough sleep, exercising, eating healthier, and prioritizing. Make your workspace more conducive to productivity and start working on your most important tasks during your peak performance hours.