Managing time is one of the main challenges of our era. Now more than ever, it feels like there is never enough time for the increasing number of items on our to-do lists. Prioritizing is a good strategy, but it doesn’t help create more time within our day! If you find yourself constantly racing against the clock, you may want to check out these three tricks to time management below.
What is time management?
Let’s start with the basics. The definition of time management will vary depending on who you ask. The concern about time started with the Greeks. They wondered about what made life meaningful, so they valued time and the purposeful, worthy ways to spend it. . Modern philosophers have used radical arguments such as “we’re all going to die” to encourage a worthy use of time.
But when you read the title of this article, what was the first idea that came to your mind? It likely wasn’t the Greeks or the fact that we are all going to die. That’s because nowadays, our idea of time is more related to effectiveness and productivity. In fact, Wikipedia says time management is “the process of planning and exercising conscious control of time spent on specific activities, especially to increase effectiveness…”.
“Conscious control” can be thought of as prioritization. Simply put, it involves deciding how urgent or important a specific task is, and then placing it on your to-do list in order of importance.This sounds fairly easy, right? It is very logical. But is logic the only mechanism behind our time-management decisions?
What is time management?
Author and trainer Rory Vaden, gave a viral Ted Talk on the topic of time management, where he explained that the way we manage time is not just logical but also emotional. As an example, he tells the story of a father who needs to leave her daughter at home, as he goes to work in the morning. The decision to choose work over spending time with his daughter is hard and emotional.
As Vaden goes on to explain, the problem, emotionally speaking, is that we struggle with the guilt of having to say ‘no’ to some tasks, because we feel like we should be saying ‘yes’. And so, the process of prioritizing needs to include a new variable: significance. Thinking in terms of urgency and importance is not enough, we need to consider if a specific task is worth our time, and for how long.
This will keep us from saying’yes'” to too many things and overloading our schedules with tasks that are not significant to us. Or, as the Greeks would say, it will help us spend our time in a way that is meaningful.
What are the 3 tricks to time management?
By now, you may be wondering about the tricks you were promised in the title of this article. Where is the recipe to success when it comes to time management? The bad news: there are no recipes! The good news: there are no recipes. Sorry to have tricked you.
There is, however, one piece of advice from philosopher Brad Adeon that can be helpful, who suggests,“Ask yourself questions instead of looking for tricks and tips.” We believe there are three main questions that can help when it comes to making decisions about how to use your time.
Why do I need to manage time?
Is it because time is money? Or is it because you can’t live forever? We need to think about how we value our time. What is it that makes our time worth managing? If you believe your time has meaning, you will want to make decisions about how you use it. The answers will be complex, but interesting.
What can I say ‘no’ to?
As Vaden explains, because we cannot create more time in our days, using our time wisely has more to do with learning to say ‘no’. This involves an emotional cost— guilt and the realization that we cannot do it all. So, we need to make choices. The more things we can remove from our to-do list, the better. Can you delegate this task? Can you automate it, so it can save you time in the future? Go for it.
What is significant to me?
The difference between us and the Greeks is that we have a lot of options. Because we do not have to wash our clothes by hand or take a trip on horseback anymore, we have more freedom than ever to use our time as we please. So, the key lies in our choice. How do I choose to use my time? What is truly significant to me?
Asking ourselves these questions, Adeon claims, will make time management meaningful again. “But I don’t have time for these questions!” you may be thinking. Good point! Vaden affirms, “Giving ourselves the emotional permission to spend time today, on things that will give me more time tomorrow,” is the start to any good time management.