Whenever I am hired as a professional coach, time management is one of the highest priorities for nearly every client. We all wish for an extra hour or two, but we know there are only 24 hours in a day. A behaviorally intelligent approach to time management may help you use the time you have more effectively:
- Prioritization – Imagine being asked to join friends for dinner, but you have other obligations. You respond with, “I’m sorry; I just don’t have the time.” Now imagine that right after you decline, you receive a phone call from a local dealership saying that you just won a Mustang convertible. All you need to do is show up in the next hour to claim your prize. Would this change your priority? Would you forgo your obligations to collect your winnings? Most people would say yes. Through this lens, we see that time can be “created”. It depends on prioritization.
- Tracking Time – Do you know where you spend your time? Without fail, whenever I ask a client to track their time, the response is, “I cannot believe I spend so much time on _______.” The blank can be filled with a number of different activities, but most common include: social media, email, phone calls, Netflix, and driving. When we make a concerted effort to track time we notice trends. This is similar to tracking food while dieting.
- “Spending Time” – People use this phrase, but may not consider its meaning. The phrase implies that time is a resource, just like money. However, we never hear people say “Time doesn’t grow on trees you know.” Time is not something you can hold in your hand, nor is it something that you can earn more of, so we may not treat it the same way we treat money. We spend money to buy things we need or want, and try not to waste money on things that are not necessary or enjoyable. Looking at time in a similar way can help us not to “spend time” on tasks or activities that do not provide value.
Knowing your priorities, tracking your time, and viewing time as a precious resource may help you to spend your time more effectively. So, how will you manage time moving forward?