7 Lessons Learned About Time Management and “Managing Time”

Originally published as a guest post on the Joyful Jubilant Learning Blog hosted by Rosa Say

by ARIANE BENEFIT on FEBRUARY 26, 2008

1. This month I learned something that has reverberated through my core like an earthquake:

“The mindset that ENABLES you to succeed, is not the same mindset
that allows you to REMAIN SUCCESSFUL and have a balanced life.”

2.  I learned that my paradigm of time was based on an old model. In my previous time model, my business was project to project and didn’t involve any time spent on marketing and administration because it was 100% referral and projects lasted from 6 month to 2 years and I simply billed monthly.  I didn’t own a home, and I wasn’t married. I could “afford the time” to say YES to most things that interested me.  I had a mindset of “there is plenty of time.” This month, when I missed a deadline by 3 weeks, and showed up for an appointment an hour early, I became extremely conscious that something very deep inside me with respect to time had to change.

3. Even though I thought  I knew this, it really LANDED for me this month:  I realized that no planner or other time management tool will work for me unless my paradigm of time is based in reality – there are only 24 hours in a day, and I’ve got a LOT of that time already on AUTO-PAY.  12-14 of those hours are spent in sleep and life maintenance. Another 5-8 are ALREADY spend on time WITH or FOR current clients.  That leaves me 2-4 hours for everything else. What a realization.

4. Managing time is not really about “managing.”
It’s not about scheduling (a word I really dislike.) That is a way too vague and meaningless way to look at time for me.  For me, I’m seeing that viewing my time as something very valuable that I invest is more useful.  So, lets suppose my time is worth $2 per minute. If I spend 20 minutes answering an email, I just spent $40. Was that a good investment?   Would I pay $40 for a loaf of bread? Investing my time is about constantly making YES or NO decisions on how to “spend” the valuable time I have available.  Everything I say YES to is something else I have to say NO to.

5. The more successful you become, the balance of YESses to NOs has to shift.  In the beginning, you say YES to every opportunity.  To remain successful, it’s all about the art of figuring out what to say NO to even if they are great opportunities so that you can be focused and productive without killing yourself.  It’s about figuring out how to make sure there is time for your valued activities like learning, sharing and generosity (which I personally believe are good investments of time)  while also protecting time for your “needs and requirements” like self-care and downtime or just free play time.

6. Making decisions about how to use your time is very similar to deciding how to spend your money.  If you don’t monitor your “available balance” in each of your “time accounts” it is VERY easy to overspend and become “overdrawn.”  Then you start stealing from another account like self-care, sleep, etc.  My decision making criteria on what to do with the VERY FINITE amount of time I have must be based on what I currently need and value, as well as on how much time is available in each account.

7. I can’t make my time decisions based primarily on what other people need and want from me.  FEARING I will disappoint people and lose out on opportunities actually MANIFESTS more disappointment and fewer opportunities. To make effective time decisions, I need a model that works like a sort of Quickbooks.  I need a Chart of TIME ACCOUNTS.  Each Account must have a Monthly SPENDING LIMIT.  I need to know what my “TIME BALANCE” is at all times in order to make more effective decisions.

If anyone knows of a model or tool that helps you know your balance at all times, I’d LOVE to hear about.  (I’ve already tried Covey, David Allen, Julie Morgenstern, and others – but I need more robust Time Account Balancing tools that can handle over 20 time accounts.)  Otherwise, I’m on a mission to INVENT IT!!!  : )

———————–

Update: Feb. 2012

I just realized that I did invent it.  The 8 Dances of Life, part of Agile Life Design IS a sort of Chart of Accounts for all the things of life that you need to devote time to.  Wow.  Having a blog just to go back in time and see this kind of evolution of ideas is really cool.

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One thought on “7 Lessons Learned About Time Management and “Managing Time”

  1. Pingback: Agile Time Management Strategies – Free Download on Slideshare | Ariane Benefit, M.S.Ed

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