As a business professional, it’s important for you to be educated on how to manage best your time. If you don’t know how to manage time, you suffer the high cost of lost time at work. Lost time at work can set back your goal schedule significantly, and you don’t get the results you want.
One of the challenges in managing time is concentrating on one task. It’s a common experience when you work on one task and often feel plagued by thoughts of other tasks. You get distracted by other tasks that you have to do and by tasks that you would rather do.
A short research from the University of Guelph, California, reports that:
Some of the most common problems students experience with concentration are related to the way they plan their time.
For example, they’ll spend hours at a time on the same type of task (like reading), and then, at the end, feel frustrated and worried when they can’t remember much, if any, of what they’ve just read.
You feel there is so little time for you to work on your most important objectives. You don’t know how to structure your time. You feel you’re bad at using time – and it makes you think you have ADHD.
Being distracted and constantly adding new work makes you late on schedules. You can’t overcome the barrier of how to manage your time, and it makes you feel frustrated.
If you do know how to manage your time, you finish projects on time. You get the benefit of feeling satisfaction, fulfillment, and energy. Your energy becomes an advantage when you are on the outlook for new projects to tackle and finish.
Time management is energy management
Modern corporate training spends a fortune on time management to increase employee productivity. But the results are not always as expected or only minimal at best. To avoid spending a large sum yourself, it’s best you understand the principles of time management.
There is a quote from John C. Maxwell that gives a definition on time management:
Time management is an oxymoron. Time is beyond our control, and the clock keeps ticking regardless of how we lead our lives. Priority management is the answer to maximizing the time we have.
Stephen Covey gives a different description of the meaning of managing time:
The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.
From these two quotes, you can see that time management is not about managing time at all. Managing yourself and your priorities is the key to truly being in control of your activities. You can say that time management is energy management and knowing what is urgent versus what is important.
Understanding energy management is the mindset shift you must make before you can benefit from the best practices of priority management. Until you make this shift, no amount of new skills or acquired resources can help you achieve your goals in a shorter time. Once you make this shift, you will be able to do more than you can imagine.
Four-step exercise to clear mental clutter
There are many methods and models that focus on time management. You can buy planners, notebooks, and even software that attempt to ‘manage’ your time. You can sign up for workshops and seminars that give you list templates to execute. But none of these tools is effective unless you start to change and focus on managing yourself.
What you need is an overall strategy for managing your priorities. You need a system that will make you finish your projects with minimal obstacles and distractions. Once you apply such a system, you will get things done and feel more satisfaction in your life.
One example technique I learned from Eben Pagan, a successful entrepreneur, is clearing your mental clutter. One reason you have difficulty managing your priorities is because your mind is constantly thinking about too many things at once. You must clear the mental clutter in your mind before you can focus on your top priorities.
You can clear your mental clutter using this four-step exercise:
- Write down everything you worry about
- Separate the things you can and can’t control
- Choose to let consciously go of things you can’t control
- Create a list to prioritize things you can control
Use a notebook for this exercise. Mark using a star for things you can control and a circle for things you can’t control. Choose to let go all the things that you mark with a circle, and prioritize all things you mark with a star.
Once you have let go of what you can’t control, you feel less frustration. You can manage your energy to work on what you can control. This method is how you can begin to build momentum and achieve your goals.
The next exercise to increase your productivity
The technique above can work whether you’re a high school student, a college student, or a business owner. The technique works because it is based on clearing your mental energy so you can use it to focus on your most important priorities.
There aren’t many online courses or classes that address the mental aspect of managing yourself. Eben Pagan is one trainer who does address the mental aspect in his course, Wake Up Productive.
The technique above is only one out of five fast-start exercises you can find in his course. If you want to find more exercises to help you increase your productivity, then read my review of Wake Up Productive.