There is a fundamental flaw in the way most people approach time management. It’s a mistake to try to get the most amount of work done in the shortest time possible, and learning how to speed up your consumption of knowledge or how to effectively multitask won’t solve your problems, either. They’ll only create more of them.
The Time Management Trap
According to a recent survey by eVoice, time is the one thing in short supply for many small business owners. So, how many of us really want to make the most of this most valuable asset?
Now, a show of hands, please, how many of us feel like we really do?
Yet, time management books, apps, and techniques are everywhere, and the majority of the people who consume them eventually fall off the wagon at some point wondering where they’re going wrong. That is, until the next great text, technique, or device shows up.
The reality is, though, that you just can’t manage time. Time marches on whether you’re paying attention or not, and trying to just force yourself to be productive won’t help much, either.
Many of us then end up in a situation where the more the clock moves the more accomplished we feel. “Wow, I just worked for five hours straight!” We can end up using the passing of time itself as a metric for success and forget to evaluate how far along we got on our to-do list.
On the other hand, if you didn’t meet your deadline, you may feel like you did nothing, even if a lot of valuable work was completed.
When time becomes the focus of our productivity, we can forget any previous clarity, allowing confusion to set in. In the end, we can lose sight of the direction we’re trying to go in and the goals we’re trying to accomplish.
Tasks that Lead to Nowhere
One “side effect” of letting time steal our focus is that we tend to spend an inordinate amount of minutes and hours, days and weeks doing things that have no real bearing on the overall goal or vision of the business we’re trying to build. We’re just way too busy trying to cram everything into our work day. All this “busy work” may keep us busy indeed and may even make us feel accomplished, but we can be left with very little real progress at the end of the day.
Stop trying to race the clock! Instead, take a moment to a whittle down your to-do list to those essential tasks that bring real value to your business. Take the time to reflect on what you really want, not just out of work, but out of life. When your priorities are clear and realistic boundaries are set, time management just becomes so much easier.
Does Time Seem to Drag By?
Everyone looks at a clock now and then, but if you’re chronically checking the time, then it’s likely a sign that something is off. The fact is you probably do not enjoy what you’re doing. Passion makes time completely melt away. When I’m working on my business and then suddenly look up and realize three hours have passed, I know I’m doing something I love.
It’s pretty normal to go through periods where it feels like your passion went on vacation (and didn’t look back). In that case, you just need to find ways to rekindle the spark. But when those downs are frequent and prolonged, that typically means the issues are deeper, and you’ll need to stop and re-evaluate the direction your life is going in to see where you can make changes.
When Value Becomes the Focus
When you give time less prominence and instead focus on those tasks that will bring the most value to your business, your whole perspective will change. Instead of trying to be the next superman or superwoman who can scale enormous to-do lists in a single bound, you’ll focus where focus is most needed. Not only will the quality of your work improve, but you’ll be so much happier, too. Let your shorter list of accomplished tasks and the ultimate direction that your life is going in be the measure of success, not how much time you’ve spent on it.
In closing, the greatest measure of success should be the actual value you’ve created and the closer you are to achieving the long-term goals you’ve set for yourself. This will lead to a richer, more fulfilling work experience where time management becomes almost irrelevant.