What’s devouring your time and why? Because, “Your time is your life.” Direct. Yes. And I deserved the raised eyebrow from Louis, a business owner whose chronic complaint is, “I never have enough time.” If you’re always feeling pressed for time, have a look at this column. It may provoke thought. It may even inspire you to adopt “alone time.” What it won’t do, is waste your time.
1. Start-up businesses aside, when a business owner constantly complains about not having enough time, it’s a symptom of an underlying cause. Let’s think about this. The available technology is supposed to make us better. Smarter. Faster. More efficient. Why the time bankruptcy? Are you controlling technology or is it controlling you? Does it conserve or consume your time? Is there adequate company staffing? Do their skills and position match, if not is there training? Can you say, “No thank you,” to unnecessary requests. Are you a shiny object chaser? You get the gist. The idea is to have time work for, not against, you.
2. Time is measurable. It’s also perceptual. Louis laments he doesn’t have enough time. Another person believes, “I have all the time in the world.” Their respective beliefs are, exactly that, their beliefs. Everyone has the same twenty-four hours in a day. No more. No less.
3. Time vampires. Do you guard yourself from time vampires like social media? Their very existence and revenue depend upon you. Your time. And your attention on the screen 24/7/365. The antidote to FOMO, fear of missing out, is DIM. Does. It. Matter.
4. A project manager with a static deadline knows the value of time management. Arranging tasks into high, medium and low priority keeps you organized. It can reduce stress, brain fog and the “overwhelm,” feeling.
5. Guarding time. A high-profile CEO will emphasize the importance of guarding time. Nope. It’s not a dismissive, holier than thou attitude. There’s always someone or something nipping at them. Without a process that vets endless demands upon their time, it scatters their energy. Ever try to douse a raging inferno with a sprinkler?
6. Avoidance or a coping mechanism. People protest, “I’m bizzy. Bizzy. Bizzy,” when they could be trying to avoid something. Others fill every second because it’s a coping mechanism. No judgement. Only this. Once a day is over, can you ever get it back?
7. Time charting. I give clients a time diagnostic that charts time spent on weekly work activities, including lunch. Social media. Meetings. Internet surfing. All of it. When I evaluate and deliver a time graphic, the response is, “Wow, I didn’t realize I was spending so much time on X.” The visual is like stepping on the scale, numbers don’t lie. This tool can diagnose ineffectiveness and where to re-allocate time to increase productivity. It can highlight where to snag some “alone time.”
8. Time alone. I view “alone time,” as sacrosanct, there’s more in the pro than con column for a busy executive, anyone for that matter. If you love intuitive downloads, try this. Walk alone in nature (no electronic devices) it opens a space for solutions, ideas and insights to emerge. What blocks these subtle messages? Incessant noise, distractions and the cacophony of daily life. Alone time invites these intuitive messages and the silence necessary for you to perceive them.
For now, I’m done, but not finished solving Louis’ time dilemma. There’s a myriad of tools, tips and time management software programs in every industry. Important. I am not suggesting you become reclusive, linear or stingy with your time. No scarcity thinking here either, the goal is, you’re the boss of each precious moment. After all, being able to do as you choose is a powerful way to spend your time. Paula M. Parker (C) 2020