Asking “ Is time management a skill and how do we get a bigger return on our time…” is a great question. Our life is inextricably linked with time and as we spend time, we spend life. So the question could really be “How do we get a bigger return on our life?’’
Now THAT is a perspective sharpener! If we look at time passing as our life passing, then how we use it becomes a much more important question.
It’s a long time ago now, but I remember when Australia II won the America’s Cup it was a huge surprise. The American boat was much faster, yet Australia II won. John Bertrand, the skipper, brought a laser sharp focus to all they did and built a great team around that focus.
It was a very simple but a very profound question:
“Will it make the boat go faster…? If so, we are listening, if not go away!”
EVERYTHING was filtered through that focus.
What if we brought that laser sharp focus to our time…?
It is my experience that people who get a great return on their time bring that same focus. They treat time as a precious and finite resource, they understand time and they think deeply about how to make the most of the time they have.
I offer three ways to consider how you can get a greater return on your time from my own journey with time and the lessons I have learnt from 45years in business and 20 of them supporting business-owners to be successful.
Three points that helped me answer the question is time management a skill
Think about Time
- Think about Time
Take the time to think. It is my firm belief that thinking, critical thinking, is one of the highest value activities in your day. By far!
Take a notebook and pen and find a quiet space – maybe in your favourite café or where you won’t be disturbed, and sit for an hour and think. In this exercise bring just one question, perhaps: “How do I get a bigger return on my time?”
Commit to the hour – chain yourself to the leg of the table and stay the hour. The first 10-15 minutes you can get some good notes down. In the next 15-25- minutes you may doodle, get frustrated and think you are wasting time, but the last 10-15 minutes is where the treasure is. Then Take Action right away on just ONE THING you got from the time. Try it. I regularly get calls from clients who did not believe me but then gave it a try and say in amazement ”IT WORKS!”
I read many years ago that Bill Gates’ Mum used to give him a hard time about lying around – “not doing anything”. “I’m thinking Mother, I’m thinking” he would say. Bill Gates developed the skill of deep thinking at many levels. The results are clear to see.
- Understand Time and how it moves around you
Time is a constant. It cannot be expanded or shrunk. It moves at a constant speed – one second per second.
Time is our most precious resource. You can’t find more time, you can’t make more time, you can’t lose time. Time is time.
Another thing about time is that we all get all the time there is. Every day we get another 24 hours of time – ultimate equality – every single person gets the same 24 hours.
So it comes down to how we use that 24 hours.
The arrow of time moves in only one direction – forward, never backward. And yet time seems to move at different speeds at different times. In reality, it doesn’t, but it certainly can feel that way.
An example in my life – if I get up before 6.00am the time between 6.00 and 9.00 seems to move slowly and I get lots done. It I get up after 6.00am the morning that time flies by. Don’t ask me why that is, but for me that is the case.
Is there an equivalent in your life…? A sense that time seems to move differently at different times, even on different days.
Understanding that and using it as part of your strategy around time is gold. It is a great subject for an hour of thinking time!
- Review Time
I have found it interesting in my own experience and those of my clients and colleagues that we understand well the process of review. We review projects, we review our teams, we review marketing and sales programs.
My question is – How well do we review our own days and how we used the time we had. It has become one of the valuable things I do each day (well most days 😊!).
I got it from Ignatius of Loyola, who founded the Jesuit Order in the 16th Century. He called it the Daily Examen. It is a review – a short reflection back over the day, recalling events and taking note of your reactions and what can be learnt from the day.
I think Ignatius had it right! Just to take a few minutes at the end of the day to go back over the highlights, lowlights and learnings from the day. You will find that every insight from this process will add to the return you get from your time. Trust me!
There are thousands of tools and techniques about time management. You can’t ‘manage’ time. It is how you ‘use’ your time that matters. “First there is something to know, then there is something to do” is an old quote of mine. Get to know about time and your “Return on Time” will be much bigger.