General Management Hickory NC
Proper Time Management Isn't A Destination, It's A JourneyAuthor: Gen Wright
It's a tough struggle but the rewards are worth it.
"There is no failure except in no longer trying.
There is no defeat except from with in, no really insurmountable barrier save our own inherent weakness of purpose. "
If I had to sum up my personal philosophy about Time Management, this would be it.
Let me explain. Let's take a simple task that almost everyone has learned, usually when we were very young. How to ride a two-wheeler!! Remember when our Dad took the training wheels off our two-wheeler and said it was going to be easy to learn? Some of us learned really quickly. Others like me took quite a while, but we all learned. Something unusual about learning to ride a two-wheeler, once you got the hang of it, once we convinced ourselves we could do it, it's something we never forgot how to do. I hadn't ridden a two-wheel bike for 20 years and when I decided to get one as part of an exercise program, I hopped on it without giving it a second thought.
Unfortunately, Time Management differs in several instances from learning how to ride a bike.
First and foremost, Time Management isn't finite; it has a beginning but has no end. You don't take a course, read a book, go to school and graduate, all the normal ways you learn something. The reason is simple, it's an evolving, constantly changing environment that each of us experiences in a different fashion every day we are alive. What makes life exciting, challenging and rewarding are the same circumstances that make Time Management such a challenge.
As we go through each day, there is a different set of challenges facing us. These challenges force us to make decisions on a minute-by-minute basis on how we are going to use our time. What we are going to do to fill the next 10 minutes, the next hour, the next day? Since we don't live in a vacuum, we are barraged by people, events and outside forces that want us to respond to them.
If we stray from our course and in fact deal with those people, interact with incidental events and deal with all the outside forces we are constantly exposed to, we will be hopelessly overwhelmed and overpowered. This is the daily dilemma we all want to avoid.
In the preceding paragraph I mentioned you don't buy a book to learn about Time Management. That needs some further comment to clarify what I was trying to explain. Once again, let's use an example. You want to be an accountant. You go to University, take your courses, study hard, pass your exams, you graduate, and you are an accountant. You can now go out and get hired and perform all the functions of an accountant. Each day you go to work, sit down at your desk, balance the books, do the tax forms, offer advice on capital gains issues. Sounds simple doesn't it? This example is simple because I created something for this accountant that doesn't happen to any of us very often. I created a vacuum for this person. I let him go to work and gave him a list of jobs he was qualified for and let him do those tasks, without distractions, without interruptions, without having to deal with the real world reacting and interacting all around him.
We have to deal with the real world in our daily lives. We have to do battle, if you will, with outside forces that have agendas of their own. These agendas are at odds with us, either by design or by choice, the end result is the same; we are in constant conflict with those forces that prevent us from doing what we want, when we want to do it. It's not a plot, it's not sinister, it's just life. Our co-workers are not conspiring to disrupt us when they walk into our office to talk about what they did last night when we want to work on our tasks. The person who emails you with something of interest to them is not intentionally disrupting you, but that is what is happening.
So why can't I get to the end of the Time Management journey? Why can't I just learn and conquer Time Management?
Here are some reasons
There are 5 steps in the learning process.
E. Skill Factor (There are 4 levels here which we will deal with later)
It's impossible to learn something if you are not aware of it. Pretty basic but critical to a topic like Time Management. You are reading this material so there is a level of interest. You may be looking for some answers to situations that are happening in your life. There is a level of dissatisfaction with your job; your career or your business and you may think the answer lies in this material, in better Time Management.
This is the start on the learning curve, the learning process. You may never have been introduced to the concept that how you organize your use of time will determine how much you can accomplish in a day and how the right activities get done.
There are numerous tools with which you can equip yourself and use to become more effective, get more done, get the right things done and be a lot happier in the process. All of these positive results can be gained by learning how to properly utilize your time. If nothing else is gained, I have at least given you something to ponder.
You are now at least aware that the principle and doctrine of Time Management exists. You may not have been aware of it before but that is not the case now. Next, do you accept our premise that you can, through proper Time Management; expect to see positive changes in your life? I have made a number of claims, get more done, get better results, be happier, be more productive. Life altering changes if they are truly obtainable. If you don't accept my assertions, my theories, my methods, then this process ends. The learning curve goes no farther.
You want to bake a cake.
You take a baking class. The instructor stands up and says, "This is how we are going to bake this cake, in my class." If after hearing the first few instructions you say no, then that will be the end of your participation in that class. You have not accepted the instructions and have decided not to continue. The same will apply here. You will at some point in your process to improve your management of your time, either follow the information we have here or you will reject it in your search for what you consider a better way. That is fair, proper, and prudent and the way you should move forward.
The first step is awareness, then acceptance. The third step is execution. Put actions to words. Put the principles of Time Management into your day-to-day activities. This is where the rubber meets the road. Concrete, physical activities. There is a huge volume of material in the Power Time System. None of it will do you any good unless you grasp the advice and take it out for a test drive. If every day you have been getting up and turning left, it's time you turned right. The same old activities will get you the same old results.
Nowhere in any of the material on this site will you see the word "easy" beside Time Management. In fact we say that it will take hard work, dedication, and an attitude shift to see some positive results. Nothing will make you more responsive to our approach and direction than to see some positive results. The good news is that it's not an all or nothing proposition. The exact opposite is true. For the sake of argument let's state there are 100 principles in the Power Time System.
Do you have to be following all 100 to be successful, to see positive results? No. How about 90 of them? No. How about 80, or 70 or 60? No to all of them. The answer is a simple one. Just one will have a positive impact on your life. We don't recommend just utilizing 1, which is 1/ 100th of the system but if that's all you implement; you will see a difference in your results.
Nothing is possible without the first step. The learning curve ends with inactivity. To move to the next level there has to be physical activity and the information and material has to be put to the test in the real outside world. In our case the good news is that even a minimal start, putting just a few procedures in play will give you measurable positive results quickly.
After you have implemented what you have been shown, does that mean it will have an impact on your performance, your success, achieving your goals? This is where impact comes in. Doing something once will probably not have a lasting impact on your life. Repeat it two or three times the likely hood of it having a positive impact on your life increases. What we want is for you to incorporate the ideas of the Power Time System in your everyday operating procedures. You want to get to the point where you automatically do things a certain way because you know that you will reap positive results.
Not everyone does the same things the same way. You will need to tweak things, experiment, alter and try different variations on the same themes to ensure they work for you in your specific set of changing circumstances.
Back to our example of 100 principles for the Power Time System.
Not all 100 principles will have the same impact on you. Some will be profound; some may be of little value to you. You will, as you add more and more of the principles into your daily routine, start to add more value and weight to the principles that impact you the most. This is not an academic exercise; the only score at the end of the day is the positive impact that you personally experience.
E. Skill Factor
This is the last logical step in the learning curve. Once you have experienced a positive impact from the things that you have learned, it stands to reason that you will want to refine and get better at that activity. This is where the skill factor comes in. Just because you are doing something does not mean you are reaping the maximum benefit from it. Any activity will give you better results the more proficient you become.
Time Management requires a fairly complex set of skills to be effective.
We have set out 4 levels in determining the positive impact your level of skill will have on your results.
Positive Results Level
The point in setting out a series of levels is to emphasize that by just performing a task, anything, does not necessarily mean you are going to get the required or desired result. Adding the principles of proper Time Management to your schedule is not the end of the journey.
Your life is not static, nor are the other players in your life. If you were, it would make all of our lives easier and a lot more boring. It's a trade off of sorts. Each day brings its own set of different and unique circumstances. With this every evolving and changing landscape comes its own challenges, which we have to adapt and work with. We need to develop and hone our skills, which will allow us to carve out our own space where we hope to find some order and tranquility for ourselves.
Let's get back to our example of the accountant. As an example, I gave him a simplified day where he was allowed to go to the office, perform some specific tasks and then go home. I isolated him from outside distractions, gave him a set list of duties to perform, allowed him the time to do those tasks and let him escape home without having to do battle with any outside forces. Nice work if you can get it! Unfortunately life does not allow many of us to have days where everything falls into place for us.
I picture a typical day for most of us like this:
There is a long hallway, with a light at the end. Your day starts as you open the door to the hallway and you can see the light at the end of this long tunnel. Your day consists of traveling down this hallway, performing the tasks you want to do for that day.
As you move down the hallway you notice that on both sides of the hallway there are doors. In your journey down the hallway, these doors open suddenly and people spring out at you without notice. They want you to do things that are on their "to do" lists for that day.
For example, your boss says I want you to take a meeting with a new client.
There goes an hour of your time. The next door opens up and your email file is full, you are encouraged to answer these, another hour of your time is gone. A few feet more down the hallway, another door opens; some phone calls to answer. One of the calls is from a customer who has a problem to be solved. Another 1 hour of your time gone. Farther down the hall, a co-worker has a personal problem he needs to discuss with you; more time gone.
Your day is now over and you have not traveled even a quarter of the way down the hall. The light is still on at the far end of the hallway signifying that even though you had scheduled only enough tasks to finish the day and had allocated enough hours to do them, your day is over but your work is not accomplished. Does this mean you did nothing all day? Not at all. You did put in a full day, you did accomplish a lot, you just didn't accomplish what you wanted to accomplish.
Another day where you go home and you feel dissatisfied with your own performance. Another day where you worked a full day but fell farther behind. Another day that cannot be replaced. What should have been done today now will have to be pushed to another day. The routine plays itself out over and over again.
How do we stop the doors that line the hallway from stealing our time? We can't, unfortunately. Unless you can some how isolate yourself from all the outside influences and distractions that are part of the everyday world, we are left to do battle with the doors in the hallway. We can do two things that will help us gain the upper hand.
Prevent the doors from opening in the first place.
That is an option for us, a very good one in fact. We know the doors are there, that is not a surprise. We also know what is behind the doors. We also know with a fair amount of certainty, when they will actually open up. That is a lot of information we have and if we organize ourselves, we can prevent a lot of these doors from ever opening up in the first place. Remember, the best offence is a good defense. You don't have to confront something that you can arrange to not be there.
Let's refine our example of the hallway, the doors and proper Time Management.
Does it matter when the door opens up? A resounding yes. Controlling your time means you control when things happen to you. When you speak to a salesperson who has a quote for you determines whether you get value for your time with her/him or not.
Example, you know on Tuesday you have to see a salesperson regarding a quote. You plan to do some research on the quote on Monday, before you see him. On Monday, before you can do the research, the salesman door springs open on you before you had time to do the research. He just walked in, unannounced and expected you to see him. One way you let the salesperson be in charge, the other way you were in charge and would have gotten full value for your time with him. So yes, it does matter when the doors open.
Does it matter who controls whether the door will open at all? Once again a resounding yes.
Example, you expect to get 5 reports from several people in your department by Friday at Noon. You have not specified when or how you will receive them. You have opened the door, pardon the pun, for 5 doors to be opened throughout the week, without notice. You have the power to be the person who dictates when and how the reports should be delivered to you.
By organizing their time to coincide with your schedule, you can prevent 5 random door openings every week. The same can be done with, telephone messages, emails, real mail, appointments, meetings, all of these can and should be slotted in specific times, by you, fit in and around your schedule.
Let's wrap this section up, for now. I want you to view Time Management as a life style choice. You want to improve your life. You want to accomplish more of the things you want to do, and you want to have more time to do these things. You have decided that improving how you deal and control time will enable you to accomplish these goals.
Due to the nature of Time Management, the fact that the environment in which we all live in is constantly changing, being able to start and finish your mastering of Time Management is not possible. You will want to constantly hone and develop your Time Management skills to be ready for the challenges that functioning in this modern age entails.
I will end this section with two asides that hopefully will shed more light on this journey.
1. The reality is, of all the people who have bought the Power Time System, gone to a seminar or have in some way been introduced to the System, there is probably no one who uses all of the System, all of the time. You may find that interesting.
Let me qualify that even further. Of the same group of people, a safe percentage of this group who are happy with the System and who are getting positive results from their use of it would be well over 95%.
So, let's see if I get this, no one actuallyuses all of the System, but 95% are happy with the results?
That's right. Let me explain.
No one uses all of the System because no one has the luxury of working in that vacuum we discussed earlier. Also, no one that I know is perfect. You would have to be perfect, and work in a vacuum to be in a position to use all of the System, all of the time. Without being melodramatic, it's you and I against the world. When you start your day, the challenges, the pressures and the overwhelming amount of distractions are tremendous odds against you being able to defend yourself and your time from this onslaught. When we falter, and we all falter, it is in these circumstances where we don't do what we know we should because, we are not perfect and we can't ALWAYS do what we know we should.
It's a little like being on a diet and cheating.
You know you shouldn't be having that cookie but you can't help yourself.
This isn't a reason to not try as hard as you can each and every day.
What it means is that we will fall short some of the time, but the times we succeed will be enough to get us where we want to go.
2. I've been working with Time Management since 1983. That's a long time. I'm still on my own personal journey. Some days I eat the bear; some days the bear eats me.
I have more good days than bad, but I have days when I get lazy, lose focus, let things and events control me. On those days, I don't get as much done as I should.
It isn't any more complicated than that.
Remember the 5 steps in the learning process.
I know the skills required to be in control, what to do, when to do it. What I lack, sometimes, is the ability to bear down, all the time. Dedication, focus, persistence, on an ongoing basis is what makes successful people. The successful ones are able to apply those traits more often than those less successful. That's why Time Management is a journey, not a destination.
If it was easy, everybody would be rich. It isn't easy and everybody isn't rich. If it was easy to be organized, always in control, always getting all the right things done at the right time, we would all be a lot happier. In other words, it's hard. The best words of encouragement I can offer is, the rewards far outweigh the hard work and sacrifices you will make. Adding these new skills and knowledge into how you operate on a daily basis can and will allow you to go farther, be happier and to achieve significantly more than you would otherwise.
Do not let yourself be overwhelmed. Do not look at this project in its entirety. Start at any level and start implementing 2 or 3 of the activities we suggest here. The positive impact on your life will be visible and these results will spur you on to start others and then others again. Remember, "Time Management isn't a destination, it's a journey. "
1. I've given you an example of what I visualize when I think of the problems we experience when we try to work our way through a typical day. The long hallway, the light at the end, doors on both sides that open without warning, disrupting our day and ruining our schedule of activities.
This gives me a clear image of what is happening to me when I allow things to get out of my control.
What is your image? What do you visualize your day looking like? I am normally not a visualization type of person but in this situation, it has worked really well for me.
2. What makes Time Management a journey is the fact we just can't do our thing and be left alone. Life isn't like that. What stops you from doing what you really want to do? This is a discussion you can have with yourself when you want to fill in some time. Sometimes the answer can be scary.
One discussion can often lead to another. In this case, maybe you need to find out what you really want to do, before you can find out what is stopping you from doing it.
3. How big of a role is Time Management going to play in your overall game plan?
This has a lot to do with what your game plan is. You are going to have to decide how much effort and resources you are going to spend on this aspect of your persona. How you operate and what emphasis you spend on different parts of your operating style will have a profound and far reaching impact on your satisfaction with your life. I can't think of anything that is more important than that.
About the Author:
Bryan Beckstead is the creator and developer of the Power Time System and the Power Productivity Maximizer and has been involved in the Self Improvement and Self Empowerment industries for almost 35 years.
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