I’m busy and don’t have time to read that book. I’m swamped with paperwork and don’t have time to take a break for lunch. My inbox has over 100 unanswered emails and I don’t have time to respond to another request. How often do you find yourself saying that you are too busy and you don’t have time to do this, or if you only had 4 more hours in the day you could do that.
Time management is something that most of us have struggled with over the course of our lives. It was easier when we were younger, but now that we’re grown up and have real life responsibilities–work, family, school–it seems like there just aren’t enough hours in the day. Well, we all know that there will never be more than 24 hours in a day, so how can become a better manager of your time? You can start by keeping a time budget.
One of the things that I have my coaching clients do is to create a time budget for one week. The requirement is that they must account for each of the 168 hours. There is no accrual or carry over to the next day. It’s set up just like a typical budget spreadsheet with a budgeted column and an actual column. Over the course of the next week, they keep track of every activity and record it in the actual column.
It seems like a pretty simple exercise, right? What they typically discover is that it’s not that there is not enough time, but rather they have spent more in a minor category which creates a deficient in an important category. They budget 15 minutes for social media but it routinely turns into 2 hours. They start off reading a few tweets, then there’s the latest viral video, then gets a call from a friend who wants to do lunch and they end up talking about current events, then they realize that someone has ‘liked’ or commented on his status update so he feels obliged to respond, then ….. Sound familiar?
This time budget is just like a financial budget. It requires discipline to achieve success, but it can be done. Just remember: if you find that your outgo (all your activities) outweigh your income (the 168 hours), it’s ‘time’ to cut some things out. The question then becomes what gets cut….but that’s another blog for another day. 🙂