Over the years, “time management” has become a very popular subject and a multi-million dollar industry. People have learned how to prioritize, schedule, and journal, thinking this will help them get more control of their lives.
I, too, have gone to time management seminars, listened to time management audio and read time management books. I have bought every type of planner available, used a palm pilot, and prioritized my to-do list. I would get excited about a system, start using it and fall off the wagon. January would come around, last year’s day planner would be 3/4 unused paper and I would vow the new year will be different. It wasn’t.
This experience is not just mine. Most people can’t use these systems, and most accountability systems have the same success rate. It’s not about not wanting to use them: people want to use them, but find them draining by definition.
What is the truth about time management?
There are two important points to answer this question. First, you can’t manage time. There are 60 seconds in a minute. There are 60 minutes in an hour. There are 24 hours in a day and 365 days in a year. There is absolutely nothing you can do to change that. It is not manageable or debatable. Time will move forward whether you do something or you do nothing. So the term “time management” is a misnomer. What we are really talking about is self management and task management. You can manage yourself and your tasks.
Secondly, what we want in time management is really energy management. In your life, you either feel a sense of flow or resistance. Your energy is either increasing or draining. When there is a task that is in the flow category, it adds to your energy – it excites you. Having it on your to-do list does not make it get done any better.
If you love to golf, do you really need to manage that task? Friday morning you are going to take off to play golf. You’re excited, your energy is flowing. You are energized and ready to play. Sure, for organizational purposes you will block out the time and make sure you don’t mistakenly set another appointment during your golf time. But that’s not about time management, it’s about organization.
Now, on the other hand, think of something you have to do that is draining. You have feelings of resistance all around you. You hate this task. You will avoid it as long as you can. When you finally get to it, you will do a mediocre job at best.
For many salespeople this will be any form of prospecting. Instead of going out and meeting people and having real discussions that can advance their career, they play all kinds of games to get out of doing the unpleasant. They meet with centers of influence thinking that they will become referral sources to do the prospecting for them. They join BNI so that they can network. Blah, Blah, Blah. The real problem is that they are resistant to putting themselves out in front of prospects. The “call reluctance” is a form of resistance. Resistance is the real issue.
There are many reasons you do or don’t do things. It has to do with a framework, a thinking pattern that you have, and have likely had for decades. The framework is not good or bad. It is not right or wrong. It is something that either serves you or it doesn’t. You have to find the thought process. Once identified, there are simple techniques that you can learn to make the necessary changes in your thought pattern. Those changes will greatly affect your energy around the resistance you feel.
For example, think of a person with the belief that “strangers can be dangerous.” If this is was your thinking pattern, what does it feel like to try to meet new people? Now let’s change the pattern to “it’s exciting, profitable and interesting to meet new people.” How does it feel to meet new people now? Your reluctance to do something is totally tied up with your thought pattern. If you are doing something that is incongruent with your thought pattern, you will feel resistance. That resistance is very powerful, and saying “I just need to push through” is a difficult task and is rarely successful. Instead, find the framework, the thought pattern that is creating the resistance and blocking the energy flow, and consciously replace it with a thought pattern that better reflects the new reality you are trying to build.
The real question of time management is, how do you manage your energy? How do you stay in a constant state of flow? How do you rid yourself of resistance? First, check and see if there is a thought pattern which is incongruent with that task. If there is, that is probably the key to resistance.
If you can find a way to do that, everything will work like a well-oiled machine and you won’t feel like you need to hunker down or push yourself to get things done. Truth be told, you will always have some things that you have to do whether you like it or not. However, the more time you spend in “flow”, the easier everything becomes. The more you are in flow, the less time management issues you have, and the more you accomplish.
If you start managing your energy and resistance, and then think about managing the tasks, you will be amazed at how time takes care of itself.