The phrase “time management” is convenient shorthand we all use, but if we’re going to get to the heart of the matter, let’s be crystal clear about the following fact: You don’t have a time management problem, you have a self-management problem.
Time management is really about how you manage your energy; how you set priorities and goals; how well you stick to the plan and adapt to changing circumstances; what you do in the face of distractions; and, perhaps most fundamentally, if you’re really chasing the right things. It’s about how you manage yourself, not the number of hours in a day.
Everyone gets the same 24 hours allotted each day. Some people get a lot done; others talk a lot about what they’re going to do. Some get all of the right things done; others spin their wheels chasing the wrong things. Some keep working toward their goals day in and day out; others get discouraged and quit.
So many people lose massive amounts of time by starting and stopping, shifting gears and changing directions, and finally giving up, never really achieving a fraction of their potential. Is that you? Here’s a basic, easy-to-remember equation summarizing time management: Time Management = Goals + System + Discipline.
There are three questions you can ask yourself to determine whether you’re on the right path: 1) Do I have goals that align with my beliefs, values, and priorities? 2) Do I have an effective system for reaching those goals? 3) Am I following that system?
At the outset of your journey toward better time management, you need to summon the courage to look the facts of your self-management in the face: Have you fallen into the trap of believing the myth of time management and complain about how little time there is? Or, do you realize that you don’t get enough of the right things done simply because you don’t manage yourself well enough?
It’s possible you’ve never made the distinction between “time management” and “self-management.” Once you come to terms with it, you’ll be in a much better position to look at your tasks differently and put in place ways to get more out of life.