Friday 1 December 2017

More reflections on Time Management

Since installing Toggl (see previous post, here) and despite being very busy (as Toggle reveals: I will put some analysis on this blog in due course) I have been reflecting further on Time Management.

When I run workshops on the topic, I often start by joking that if ever business is slow, I can always sell a time management workshop; and there is some truth in that. It is a perennial problem for many people in many organisations. 

But this week's insight (or was it just remembering or bringing to the surface something I have long known?) was that time management is really about two quite different , but in practice inter-related, questions.

One is How do I allocate my time? and the second is, How do I manage myself?

I say the two are inter-related, because in my experience (and thinking not just about myself, but about the many people with whom I have worked on this vexed issue), the decision on how to allocate time is profoundly impacted by one's self-management skills (or lack thereof...)

By this I mean that it is relatively easy to block out time in the diary every week to work on important activities before they become urgent. But then something arises: an interruption, a distraction, a more urgent (or more enjoyable) task; and it is in the management of one's responses to these issues that success in time management lies.

I should add that I am not an advocate of 'stick to the plan, no matter what!' If the building is on fire, then leaving it seems to be a better idea! 

However, what one should do is, firstly, notice that one has a choice, rather than react out of habit; and secondly make that choice by a genuine consideration of the relative importance (as well as urgency) of the distracting activity.  More often than not, the right course of action is indeed to stick to the plan.

So developing the self-management strategies to enable one to notice the moment of choice, to make the choice based on the right criteria, and then to implement the choice, becomes a key focus for those determined to improve the way in which they use their time.

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