That sentence is the one thing that almost everyone I meet says when we start working together.
It’s the reason I’ve developed a very robust process to help my clients get more time (so they can implement things faster), which we put in place on day one of working together.
And it’s also one of the biggest lies you can tell yourself…
– “There’s not enough hours in the day”
– “I don’t have enough time to do that”
– “My time just isn’t my own”
If you’re guilty of saying any of the above, then you’re lying to yourself.
While on the surface, you may think that you have a problem with time management, what you actually have is a problem with something completely different…
Time Management or Choice Management
Ask yourself this question, and be honest about the answer, lying to yourself won’t do you any favours:
If you were given more than 24 hours in a day, would you complete all of your current tasks, or would you add more to your list?
It’s an interesting one, isn’t it?
You see given more time, most people would opt for the latter and add more tasks to their to-do list.
And why not? If you have the extra capacity, why not take on extra work, right?
So, it wouldn’t matter if there were 36 hours in a day, or 48, they’d still say that there weren’t enough hours for what they need.
The reason for this is because most people don’t have an issue with time management, they have an issue with choice management.
They don’t have a system for choosing exactly what they should be spending their time on, and what they definitely shouldn’t be spending their time on.
Here’s an eye-opening exercise for you that I created for some of my clients.
Sit down for 10 minutes and complete this ‘Super Quick Time Study’ to figure out exactly where your time is being spent.
Then ask yourself these questions for each category:
– Was it an effective use of my time?
– Could my time spent on it be reduced?
– Could this task be delegated?
– Could it have been deleted/avoided?
And when you do this exercise, you’ll start to see how your choices affect the time you have (or don’t have) left available.
The Eisenhower Decision Matrix
Once you recognise where your time is going, you can begin to make more strategic choices about how you spend it.
A great tool to use for this is the “Eisenhower Decision Matrix”, which allows you to categorise tasks by ‘Urgency’ and ‘Importance’.
Urgent tasks are ones that require immediate attention.
And important tasks are ones that contribute to your mission, values and goals (both personal and business goals).
Here’s a breakdown of what each quadrant means:
Do – These are tasks that are very important and need to be completed immediately. This is filled primarily with crises so you don’t want to spend much time here!
Decide – These are tasks that you’ll want to schedule into your calendar e.g. time spent working ON your practice, as well as time away from work with friends/family. This is the quadrant you want to spend most of your time in!
Delegate – These are urgent tasks that are related to your responsibilities, but can be delegated to others as they are less important. When delegating there’s 3 keys you need in place:
– Someone to delegate the task to
– A system for them to follow
– A process for holding them accountable to following the system (e.g. the WWW triangle)
Feel free to use this ‘Task Eliminator’ worksheet that I created for my clients to help eliminate some of these unwanted tasks.
Delete – These are the things you shouldn’t be doing full stop. These typically come in 3 categories:
– Bad habits e.g. surfing the internet without good reason, checking your personal phone
– Low-level tasks e.g. filing, chasing clients for paperwork, general admin etc
– Time wasters e.g. being pulled into issues by your staff that they should be capable of dealing with themselves
Once you’ve categorised your tasks using the matrix, you can highlight which ones are worth you spending your time on (i.e. the ones in ‘Do’ and ‘Decide’) and which ones aren’t worth you spending your time on (i.e. the ones in ‘Delegate’ and ‘Delete’).
And when you do this, you’ll find yourself shifting from a ‘time’ mindset to a ‘choice’ one, which means you’ll actually end up with free time.
You’ll have space to think, and have the freedom to fill this free time with tasks that are aligned with your personal and business goals.
You can’t control time, but you can control your choices.