I listened to Brendan Burchard describe a conversation with one of his clients. The client told Brendan he was going to write a book, and Brendan asked to see his calendar. He didn’t see any entries or time set aside in the calendar to actually write the book. It was a noble idea and nothing else. If no time is set aside, the book will not get written.
Brendan is a leading High Performance Coach and he often observes this phenomena. His clients aren’t reserving time on their calendars for their more important work. The alternative story, for which I am guilty, is ‘I’ll find the time’. Between meetings, I will find the time to do X. But that time gets filled with other seemingly more important tasks that appear from nowhere.
The consequences of not managing our time
With this story, we are letting other people manage our time. We allow them to dictate to us how we will use our time to meet their priorities. Once I understood the consequences of not managing my own time, I realized I needed to change. I now block the first three hours of every work day and only give it up for critical requests of my time.
If you have to respond to a large number of meeting requests, this may seem impractical. Especially when your boss or another senior person is asking. If you don’t block your time, I can guarantee your management of time will not improve one bit. You may not be able to control your calendar but I bet you can free up a lot of time if you try.
Like Brendan, I observe many of my clients struggle with managing their time. Once they start to understand their problem they work diligently to address the root causes. My bigger concern is for the people who are overwhelmed and decide they don’t have the time to get help.
We are victims of our story
Their story goes like this. ‘I am busy right now but it is because of X, Y and Z, and they will end soon freeing up my time.’ Does this story sound familiar? New things will fill the time left by X, Y and Z because they are not managing their commitments and their capacity. It is a never ending repetitive cycle. If the person didn’t need coaching, they would have plenty of time for coaching. Like many other issues, we become a victim of the issue, instead of managing our way out of it.
I ask these people what are they going to do to manage their commitments and capacity to free up time in the future. I think you can guess the answers. This is a question we need to ask ourselves on a regular basis. And we need to add, ‘how well is it working’. If we have no time, more of the same is not going to create a different future.
So who is managing your time? Is it you or the people around you, and what are you going to do about it?