The Myth of Time Management
Have you ever met one of those people who seem to have more time in the day than everyone else? Certainly, they seem to have more time than you do and you can't figure out their secret. I am one of those people. And I do get asked frequently how I do it and what my strategies for time management are. Here's the secret from my favorite mentor on the topic:
"There's no such thing as time management.
We can't manage time. We each get all there is.
You can only manage tasks."
~ Bob Proctor
That statement struck me like a lightning bolt the first time I heard Bob say it, and I've never forgotten it. We each get all there is. That means from the most productive among us to the least, we each have twenty-four hours and the best we can do is manage the tasks that are before us. But how do we do that?
One summer when I was seventeen, a youth leadership coach had us complete a daily activity chart and cluster the activities based on certain categories. I don't recall the headings, but I do recall that I was sleeping 50% of every day! Whoa. That was a smack in the face. Maybe I was gathering energy for the next phase of life, but seeing that number was impactful. I still do that exercise periodically to see how I'm spending my time. A similar tool is to color code activities in your calendar to have a quick visual of where you're spending your efforts.
Why is that kind of awareness important? Before we can tackle anything new, we need to take an honest look at where we are spending our energy. What are you doing? Is there anything that could be eliminated?
According to Statista, the average person's social media usage is up from 90 minutes daily in 2012 to 147 minutes per day this year (Dixon, 2022). And the same source indicates we spend approximately three hours per day watching television. That's five hours and twenty-seven minutes per day. How about you? Do you spend 23% of your day looking at television and TikTok?
Since 2005, I have made it a priority to eliminate mindless entertainment viewing such as endless scrolling, series bingeing, and eating in front of a screen. Here are a few tips to create effective task management in your day:
eliminate television or Netflix or Hulu or (insert vice) during the week;
commit to a weeklong news fast (I promise someone will tell you if something monumental happens);
set a timer to keep social media scrolling to a maximum of 30 minutes nightly; and
complete tasks in batches by categorizing tasks, set a window for completion, and then take a break when finished.
When you do this for a week, note how much time you have for other important practices. How much time does this create? Better managed tasks throughout the day generate time for restorative practices, like short walks or brief meditations. If you're one of the "average" people spending 23% of your day online or watching shows, IMAGINE what you could do with a reclaimed 5.5 hours!
If you have big goals to achieve, you can now identify small daily practices that you are able to insert into that block that once belonged to binge watching Netflix. What is the thing that you "never have time for?" That goes in the slot where the news fast created space.
Do you want to learn a language or practice that instrument you gave up in tenth grade? Do you want to practice sketching or write your first novel? The consistent daily fifteen minutes adds up fast. Once you review your current behaviors, align your goal steps, and replace time wasters with the tasks you really want to prioritize, you'll find that you do have "more time."
Don't underestimate how important one hour a day can be to moving you in the direction of your goals. As Bob also taught me, one hour of daily study over a year (365 hours), is the equivalent of NINE 40-hour work weeks. How will you use that time?
Comment below and let me know what you're working on this quarter.