In this article I’m going to try to explain why even attempting time management is setting yourself up for failure, and then give an alternative that might set you up for success.
But first off an introduction:
Let’s say you were surfing the web and came across a page by me that promised to teach you how to climb Mt Everest. In that page I explained that I’m just an ordinary person and if I could do it then there’s no reason why you couldn’t do it as well. All you have to do is follow my simple 7 step plan and you could be on top of Mt Everest in a month.
You might think “Cool, I’d like to try that” and buy my plan (if you really want one I can make one up and sell it to you) and start following it. But before too long you’d start getting a few doubts and think you’ve got nothing to wear there, or you really wouldn’t like to eat tinned food every day for weeks on end. When you fail and ask for a refund I’d simply say that it works for other people and you didn’t follow the plan so it is your fault (you can still buy the plan if you like – trust me).
The reason is simple… While you were thinking that it would be cool to try it, your subconscious mind (that I’m sorry to say is sooooo much smarter than you) knew it would be too difficult and wasn’t really trying at all. In fact, while you were reading my original page your subconscious mind was probably telling you to hit the back button and get out of there. Fortunately (for me) you ignored it and decided to keep reading, keep reading, keep reading, keep reading.
Why you will probably fail at time management:
Yep, you might think it is a great idea and something you really need but meanwhile your subconscious mind (that is sooooo much smarter than you) realises that time management is impossible. Your subconscious mind deals with simple realities based on information it is provided. It doesn’t second guess or logically analyse things it just works with what it’s given. (Well it does a whole lot more but that’s all it does in this process). You say “manage my time” and it replies “You’ve got 24 hours in a day I can’t manage that. It’s impossible.”
Now, if you are like most of us you are a stubborn thing and try to force it to manage your time because you’ve been told it is what you need to do to get your life in order. You are now fighting yourself and the stronger part of you (the stubborn or the wise) will win out. So you might succeed even if you have set yourself up for failure, but wouldn’t you rather do it the easier way.
How to set yourself up for success:
Don’t try the impossible. Simply try task management.
You have a certain amount of time in the day, don’t try to manage that but simply work with it. But you also have a certain number of tasks you want to achieve in that time so you CAN manage that.
Manage your tasks and allocate them to the time you have available. Your time is fixed and you can’t manage it, but your tasks are variable and you can manage those.
This is a tip that I learned a long time ago that has helped me a lot. Usually tasks come in two different types, or a mix of the two: Important or Urgent. Work on the important ones first. The urgent ones usually only seem important right now but as the time limit passes they are insignificant. If you have a task on your list then ask yourself if it is important and why. If it isn’t important then put it to the bottom of the list and work on the ones that are important to you.
Here’s the real world difference… There will be hiccups, and that’s one thing I can guarantee. If you are doing time management then if your task is left unfinished for any reason you then need to try to find time to finish it. Your mind flops from task to time and then tries to find more time. In time management the option is to find more time because that is what you are managing (unless you have a 20 page manifesto with all sorts of exceptions for different circumstances). This is probably where most people give up on time management as being too hard for them.
If you are practicing task management then in the same situation your task is left unfinished so you manage the task. Your options are to quickly tidy the task up and call it finished, realise it is not important so just drop it all together, leave it for now and move onto the next task, or adjust the allocation of time associated with that task. You have more options and it just seems to flow more intuitively because you are managing something that you actually have control over – the tasks.
The difference in the input might be subtle but the difference in outcomes might be significant.
I can’t write more, I’ve run out of time.