By Sheila Hawkins, CEO, Third Eye Group
Time! There never seems to be enough of it to get in all of the things we want or need to do. One reason we never seem to have what we consider to be enough time is that time is elusive. It’s intangible. We can’t see or touch it, it can’t be captured or moved and it’s hard to conceptualize.
If we can change our perception of time and develop a more tangible view of it and change our habits, we can master it. First we must realize that since time is not a tangible thing, there really is no such thing as time management. Time management is self management; we have to manage ourselves.
Secondly, we have to realize that time management, or how we manage ourselves when it comes to our time, is personal. We each have our own time management personality based upon our relationship to time. If we don’t know that personality and have a tool that matches it, our level or productivity is not at its prime. It’s easy to walk into your favorite office supply or technology service provider and choose a tool, but the tool you choose may not work for you if it doesn’t fit your time management personality. Years ago a friend of mine purchased what was then, the latest and greatest Palm Pilot and absolutely hated it. She said it didn’t work for her. It didn’t work for her because it didn’t fit her time management personality, which is why when she went back to her Franklin Planner, she was able to easily manage her time again. Her time management personality traits were a fit for a paper tool rather than an electronic one. Just choosing a tool to manage your time without knowing what type of tool fits is like walking into a store and buying an outfit or a pair of shoes without considering your size. You have to understand how you relate to time and choose a tool accordingly.
The additional personal component is to know what I call your prime time™. Even before I began helping people increase their productivity, I realized that during a particular time of day I’m at my best. My physical energy is high, mentally I’m sharp and I can get most work done during those hours. This is so for each one of us. Whether we realize it or not, we all have what I call our prime time TM.
Everyone makes mistakes when it comes to managing their time. There is a long list of mistakes that people make in this area, and I have what I consider to be the top 10 time management mistakes, and #2 on the list is working against your grain. Life becomes much easier when you work according to your energy cycles. It never works to try to so something like writing a letter or a proposal, something that requires creativity and or major focus at a time when your energy level is low or when you’re not able to completely focus. When you do, you find yourself struggling through the process and you end up with a poor finished product or no product at all.
To avoid this mistake, learn your own personal energy cycles. Find your prime timeTM by paying attention to when your energy-both physical and mental, is the greatest and when it’s at lower levels. One clue you might take is looking at how your body and mind feel in the morning. Also look at the time of day you start to wind down physically and mentally. If you’re a morning person it’s highly probable that your mental and physical energy are high from the time you get up, or maybe a couple of hours after that, until mid day. If you’re not a morning person, your prime time TM may start anywhere from late morning to some time in the afternoon and might run until early or late evening. If you’re one of those people who gets to the office at 8:00 or 9:00 am but doesn’t actually start working until 11:00 am, ask yourself what the hold up is. Is it your energy level or are time wasters coming into play?
Start to make note of how you feel at various times of the day. Then look at it after a week. Notice what time of day you’re at your best. The time usually lasts for at least four hours. To give you an example, I’m a morning person and my energy physical and mental energy are both high from the time I rise until about 3:00 pm. Once you discover your prime timeTM, use it for the things that require your creativity and focus, and use the other times for things like filing or returning phone calls. To go back to the example, I use early morning hours for taking care of personal things and work on the things that require the most mental energy and focus between 8:00 am and 3:00 pm. After that it’s time for phone calls and checking email for the second time around. Discover and then use your personal energy cycles to make your day productive. Things work a lot easier if you go with the flow.
Knowing your time management personality is a key component in reaching your goals. Once you understand how you relate to time, you’re on your way to increased productivity, which is vital to success in both your personal and business lives. If you struggle to manage your time, it’s likely that you struggle to get everything done, and as a result of that your productivity level is lower than it would be if you had the right tool and a system to support it. Once you have the right tool and a system in place, you can smoothly navigate through your days, weeks and months as well as any turning points in your personal or business life. Personalizing your time management can increase not only your productivity, but that of your team.
Some think that no one ever has enough time or that productive people work harder than others and neither of these myths is true. We all get the same amount of time--1,440 minutes every day; it’s how we invest it that makes the difference. If we invest it wisely, we end up getting it all done, working smarter, not harder. Time is our most valuable resource and no matter how hard we wish for it, we can’t get more of it. What we can do is change our perspective of time and learn to manage it so that we get to what matters most. When we do so, we increase our productivity and positively impact our bottom line.
©2009 - 2010 Sheila Hawkins
Sheila Hawkins is President/CEO of Third Eye Group based in Detroit, Michigan. The company provides customized professional organizing services for individuals, small businesses and solopreneurs. Services are tailored to the needs and personality of the client helping them transform environments and behaviors, streamline processes, develop programs, systems and infrastructures to create order and peace in their lives.