Controlling Time

A search on amazon.ca returned 68,588 books relating to time management and a similar search on amazon.com returned 108,557 titles. The prevalence of these resources seems to indicate that we have a problem in understanding how to manage our time.

Psychology Today defines time management as the “ability to plan and control how you spend the hours in your day to effectively accomplish your goals.” In short, if you don’t set goals, you are more likely to have time management problems. But research also shows that even those who set goals can struggle with time.

Perhaps the question that needs to be addressed is not how to manage time, but how individuals need to manage themselves to achieve their goals. If achieving goals is the (pardon the pun) goal.

How are you managing yourself? Does your typical day start with checking e-mail and then tweeting about last night’s party? Do you browse Facebook to catch up on what your hundreds of friends did over the weekend? Or do you review the list you created last night outlining your priorities for today?

In the first instance, you are allowing technology and others to manage your time. In the latter instance, you are in control.

Controlling yourself and your time means that you:

  1. Plan your day(s) in advance.
  2. Identify the important and urgent tasks and do them first.
  3. Build in “free time” in your plan to allow yourself to relax.
  4. Stick to your plan, only sidetracking for emergencies.
  5. Update your plan after emergencies to get back on-track.
  6. Say no to work or non-work activities that add no value to you or your organization’s strategic direction.
  7. Build relationships that will enable you to accomplish your tasks/goals.

Let’s face it: No amount of instruction on time management is going to help you manage your time if you allow events or people to control your time. Only you can control you. And that includes making and following through on decisions that will propel you to achieve your goals.

How you control yourself dictates how you manage your time. We all have the same amount of time in any given day—1,440 minutes exactly. Control how you use each minute, every day, by building good habits. If you do, you’ll never again need instructions on time management.

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