The Biggest Myth of Time Management

Brad is probably the hardest working employee I’ve ever known. He doesn’t just work, he concentrates on getting it right. This dedication to his work pays off: he is the highest-paid professional in his company (and I note, a fairly well-known one), which provides professional consulting services. I’ve known him since university, and this man has done almost everything perfectly. When I asked him to help me fill out my notes, or edit my essay, he never refused and gave me only helpful advice. In fact, he was the best student in the class.

A few days before Thanksgiving, Brad and his family left Boston for Los Angeles. He planned to spend the first few days working and then spend the remaining time with his family. He decided not to use the Internet, which was available onboard, during the flight, but to be with his children, play and spend time with them. So he took a five-hour mini-vacation.

When they landed, Brad turned on his smartphone and discovered that there was a crisis on the plane and he had 500 emails waiting to be answered.

And that’s clearly overkilled for such a mini-vacation.

The truth is, we simply can’t escape from this flow. We are in a constant cycle of emails, texts, answering machine messages, tweets, Facebook posts and linkdines: all surrounded by the high-tech world we live in.

So how do you keep up with the times and keep up with everything?

There’s no way.

The idea that we have to keep up with everything is the biggest myth in time management. Brad can’t possibly reread all of these letters meaningfully, and it’s unlikely that you and I will be able to do all of the things that we set out for ourselves.

Just face it-your resources are limited.

There are only 24 hours in a day, and we can’t be productive the entire time.

On the one hand, it’s depressing. But on the other hand, if you are conscious of this fact, it will give you twice as much strength. When a person realizes that he can’t do everything all at once, we have a good prospect of learning to make choices about what we really need. Instead of watching things pile up chaotically and haphazardly, we can simply put aside the unimportant things and devote all our energy and time to what really matters.

Many of us make unconscious choices based on the tasks we’ve just received that are waiting to be done. In order to determine what is “necessary,” to separate the wheat from the chaff, we should take on the work that will lead us to the result we most desire. And this, in turn, means that we must also consciously come to what we should not do. The world will take its course anyway. Now, in making this or that choice, it has become really important to act with a certain strategy.

And now let’s talk about how to get to the point, how to wade through the maze of “to-do lists” – for this we need to develop a habit and prepare the tools. We need a special environment in which we are more likely to do what is most important and where we don’t have to waste our time on meaningless things that interfere with our productivity. We need to know how to prioritize, deliberately delegate tasks, create tiered lists and eliminate multitasking.

And what are the most effective tools? If you’re constantly wasting your time trying to find the right advice coming from me or someone else, you’ll simply be distracted from the work itself often. Pay attention to the tips we offer to help you break the habit of using time management as an excuse for not having enough time for important work:

Think about what time management issues you are currently facing. Do you tend to think, as you leave the office, that you’ve been working like an ox all day, but the most important work you haven’t done? Do you feel like you’re not making the most of your talent or interest in certain things? Do you get distracted a lot? Do you avoid challenging projects? Do you interrupt to check email or other small things?

When you’ve identified the biggest challenges you have in allocating time to tasks, stop at one thing. Maybe you haven’t fully identified the tasks you really “need”. Maybe you’re using the wrong tools at all. Maybe you’re just striving for perfection. Think about what is typical for you. Now try to overcome this problem by using some methodology used in time management. There are a lot of them, just take on board the one that you think will work.

If this technique doesn’t work, try the same thing with the other problem you’re having. If it doesn’t work, change your tactics. Try it this way, solving one problem after another that is specific to you, so you understand how to work with yourself, what works for you, and what doesn’t.

Brad, overwhelmed by a hundred emails, simply put his smartphone aside until he arrived at the hotel. Already sitting with his laptop in his room, he divided the incoming mail into “important” and “least important,” answering only those emails that were necessary and deleting most of those that came in. That way, he was done in an hour. Then he closed the laptop, left the smartphone in the room where he worked (mind you!), and immersed himself in the unrestrained fun, noise and commotion associated with the upcoming family dinner, which was the most important thing for him to do at the moment.

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