The abundance of today’s tools, from any app or a reminder to organizers and diaries, can drive anyone into depression and bring them stress. We make use of one instrument, then the second, then the third; something helps you for a while, then you realize that something in this “system” doesn’t work like it has to.
People can estimate how much the task will take, but they will never be able to calculate the time absolutely. Each person perceives time in his own way – it’s like an inner experience. And the experience here is not everything.
Did you notice that very similar tasks can take a very different amount of time? Why does it happen? It just depends on a different mood, different level of engagement, motivation, fatigue and many other factors. So time is a very abstract concept when it comes to managing it.
The biggest myths about time management techniques and how people perceive them
A well-renowned writer of the Guardian and a psychologist of the new generation Oliver Buckerman suggested that time-management turns people into stressed and unproductive zombies.
The way people do business has changed dramatically over the years. Yet, the recommendations about the time management have stayed the same.
- Time management technique teaches people to make a to-do-list first thing in the morning. Modern people check their emails forenoon. By morning time they already have plenty of tasks for the day and a bunch of outdated ones that need to be done ASAP.
- Traditional time management suggests prioritizing. However, every errand that people must run is of high priority these days. Eventually people get nothing done and a workload of new assignments.
- Closing the door on everything that can distract you was actually working a long time ago. Employees working in cubicles don’t have such benefits. Even if you have managed to isolate from the internet and come up with a task list, it vanishes the minute you walk into the office and get a vast of trouble thrown at you.
- Post-its and flagged e-mails. There are too many of them. You get confused quickly. You bring work home and there is always stuff to add in the long lists of tasks.
- One technique doesn’t fit everybody. People get differentiated into various categories of extraverts and introverts, rational and irrational kinds. Psychologists are making up trainings for these categories only, failing to remember how diverse all people are.
- People are failing to adhere to the system. You can’t keep doing only one technique of time management without all of the other aspects of the system. You can’t write down things on post-its one day and keep writing them in the calendar the other.
- Futility of attempts to control time. Practically all of the so-called “Get-It-Done” strategies involve trying to force people to do what they really do not want to do. Attempts to develop new habits that will counterbalance the old and destroy them work just about the same as the new car body on an old rusty engine. If we do not start from the foundation, the whole restructuring will not make any sense.
- Too-difficult tools. The 10$ app on the phone won’t work if you keep writing everything down on paper.
- Unrealistic expectations. People think that if they wrote a list, the things would do themselves perfectly, in other words they don’t look at the time rationally.
Smoking deserves special attention. Many people think they smoke because of the stress, showing the society how exhausted and hardworking they are.
They don’t realize that this bad habit makes it difficult to get out of bed in the morning and gives them severe headaches thus causing more stress and taking time.
In his well-known book Allen Carr has proved that you can improve your productivity by 30% once you get rid of nervous stressful smoking habit.
What is the substitute for time-management?
Carson Tate, the author of the “Work simply” strategy, claims that time-management strategies haven’t been proved to have impact on one’s professional performance.
So, stop following the tradition of complaining how you never have enough time and get a hold of your life. Stop time-managing pro managing your life.
- There are first three things for you to get started.
- Clarify the priorities instead of prioritizing particular tasks;
- Develop attention management skills instead of blindly following time-management tips;
- Build a complex management of the workflow.
A recently discovered workflow methodology motivated people to be proactive and thoughtful.
Adam Karsh has started a whole attention management skills workshop where he teaches about different types of attention, the methodology of focusing one’s attention, learning to prioritize time and focus and, as a result, increasing your work productivity.
Allow yourself to move around and have time for short breaks. When the location is changed your mind gets a break and it can experience an explosion of mental energy and inspiration.
- Eliminate noise and other distraction. Wear headphones if you must.
- Watch yourself. Sometimes people get distracted just from the thoughts in their heads. Attention can go elsewhere without your control. Don’t let your attention go negative. Cut out the negative thoughts before they go strong. Focus on something positive.
- Invest in your attention. You should define the things with the highest return for the attention. The rule of 80/20 states that 20% of your attention gives 80% of the effect. It’s like putting money for a deposit.
- Forget about multitasking. You are the most efficient when focused on a single task.
- Keep practicing. You won’t acquire this set of skills overnight, so practice constantly. If you feel like you are failing to do a task, a simple affirmation like “Time to focus” will help you reinforce a good habit.
So time control – does not exist, there is only control over yourself. A simple thought lying on the surface, repeatedly voiced. It’s not the time-management, not the tools or techniques, etc., but only the people.
People should become the masters of their time and choose how to invest it. Use your powerful brain, because it is capable of constant learning and developing productive habits if you give it a little push.