By Adam Klein
One daily resource we all have equal amounts of is time: count the hours ... we each have 24. The curious thing about those 24 hours is that we cannot collect them for later use. There are no time-banks to house unspent hours. There are no unspent hours. Worst of all, we cannot get time back. The inevitably of time is ... it passes—so much for managing and controlling time.
Perhaps this is why there is so much frustration and ‘Sisyphus-syndrome’ around the subject of time management. It is, as they say, a myth. So, if there’s no such thing as ‘time management,’ then what? Take another look at those 24 hours: the only thing that we are able to ‘manage’ in those hours is ... us. We are the controllable element in the passage of time. We are what is spent as the hours roll along. This understanding opens up an empowering question: “How are we going to ‘manage’ ourselves?” Instead of using time, we are investing ourselves (bodies, brains, hearts) and our resources (money, food, homes, etc.) in the context of time. It is a subtle, but important, distinction. Here’s how to get started down this new path of self-management.
1. Name it. We are valuable and we each have 24 hours in which to operate. Therefore, it is important to identify what is important to us: family, health, financial sustainability, ecology, etc. Use this list to prioritize where you’ll invest yourself.
2. Accept it. There are only 24 hours and we are only human beings. These two finite elements are crucial to accept right from the get-go. As a result, we need to accept that everything will not get done. Use your importance list to filter out the unimportant activities and to-dos.
3. Dream it. As humans we are dynamic, constantly changing and full of new ideas. We each have the ability to dream the future we want for ourselves and our families, neighborhoods and world. Mesh these dreams with your importance list, and invest yourself accordingly.
4. Learn it. Learn how to operate with discipline and efficacy. These are two fundamental competencies that enable good use of our selves and our resources. Try color-coding your various priority areas on your calendar. This will give you a quick visual overview of how your time is being allocated. If you struggle with distractions, use the do-not-disturb feature on your phone, or download a website blocker like Self Control, which will block out chosen websites for a set amount of time.
It’s important to differentiate between managing time and managing ourselves; doing so reveals the true change agent ... us! We are the cherished resource through which the future is created. The next time we look at our lives and notice gaps in what is happening versus what we would like to see happening, forget Father Time and instead ask yourself: How do I need to manage myself differently?