The challenge of time management is not new. Increasing pressure to do more with less is the hallmark of modern life. At some point everyone faces issues about how much to do or how to prioritise the items on their to do list and the resources we need are all around us. There is a wealth of information on the internet, thousands of self-help books and CD’s and legions of gurus willing to tell us how to get it all done.
So, what’s the problem?
Often we merely give into our excuses. It’s time to confront those ideas, bin them and move on.
I work better under pressure.
Uh, no you don’t. The science simply does not back this up. Intense pressure and worry, like what you feel when you are about to miss a deadline, triggers the body’s limbic system. This is the part of your brain that sets in motion the famous ‘fight or flight’ response. Once the body and brain get focused on survival you can forget about creativity or systematic organisation. The fact that you sometimes manage to scrape by does not mean you are turning out quality work or managing your time effectively.
I shouldn’t have to do this.
Many people resist learning to be more efficient because they feel they are being over worked or treated unfairly. It’s hard to get things done when you feel that ‘it’s not my job’. Not making an effort and waiting for the system to change is totally unrealistic. However sometimes people think they can out wait a boss, a client or a policy they don’t like. They refuse to try time management strategies because they are hoping and waiting for the rules to change.
I HAVE a system; I know what’s in all these piles.
If you find yourself defending your mess or your methods, that’s a sign of trouble. True, we are all individuals and have different personal styles for work. However, when you start making this excuse ask yourself who you are really trying to convince. Do you really know where everything is? Try giving yourself a test. Make a list of four important pieces of information you should be able to find, and then get them found within 15 minutes.
I really don’t spend that much time procrastinating…
There is a reason almost all time management books, seminars and workshops begin with some type of ‘record your typical day’ exercise. Most of us simply do not realise how much time we spend in mindless activities that contribute nothing to our personal or professional success. If you’ve never done this, it’s time to give it a try. Social media and the arrival of smart phones have made this an even more attractive excuse. Think about it. If you are never, ever disconnected from information input and you’re constantly interacting with your online community, how do you have time to do anything else?
I’m too busy putting out fires
Emergencies happen, but for most of us, our jobs or businesses do not revolve around crisis control, or at least they shouldn’t. If you are constantly in emergency mode then you need to review prioritisation. Not everything is urgent. Ask yourself if you’re addicted to the rush of saving the day. Be brutally honest. Unless you are a fire fighter then you should not be too busy with emergencies to improve your time management skills.
It may seem harsh to strip away our favourite excuses, but in today’s competitive environment no one can afford to waste time.