I was sitting in a company-sponsored time management class as a new manager at the ripe age of twenty-four. I held in my hand my brand new time management binder that, I was sure, would solve all my problems. The instructor made a comment that has unintentionally stuck with me for years: ““If you can’t manage your time well, you’ll be playing catch with one of your kids one day and your mind will be elsewhere, trying to remember what you need to do next.” Fast forward to many years later, when I was kicking a soccer ball around in the yard with my oldest when I found my mind wandering. I was distracted with work thoughts. My personal and professional lives were bleeding together.
Welcome to the modern world, where there is inevitably a blur between work and home. Yet, we have control over more than we think. The boss may be barking instructions, your email inbox is
blowing up, and you have to post that picture of what you ate last night on Facebook. It can all be done. Time management isn’t about a new binder or even an electronic device. It is a disciplined mindset that allows you to live in the moment while working toward the future. Time management is often a mental game—but the concept of time management doesn’t have to be hard. It’s about commitment, routines, flexibility, adjustments, and planning. We create our own self-limitations. You must eliminate what’s holding you back.
You can’t come home after a day of work and completely clear your head—can you? Yes. It starts with taking inventory. I don’t want you to start a time study. They are too subjective, the data sources too unreliable. Instead, I want you to write down the top three things that take up most of your time at work, regardless of whether they’re required or not. Think it through. Not what took your time yesterday; think about what consistently occupies your day. The goal of this blog series is to gain efficiency where and when you can, even if it takes small steps. By keeping it top of mind as you continue to read through Time Management Manifesto, you’ll start to adapt your most time-consuming methods and habits to find the balance you’ve always wanted.
Time management is a requirement for all people in all roles—not just CEOs, managers, owners, or even individual contributors. If you think you don’t have enough time to invest in order to improve your own time management, think again. There are only twenty-four hours in the day. They should not all be devoted to work, but if you don’t manage the work piece, you can’t balance the personal piece. Start immediately. Manage your time, don’t let it manage you.
Thomas B. Dowd III’s books available in softcover, eBook, and audiobook (From Fear to Success only):
- Down the Chute: A Toboggan Tale (children’s book)
- Now What? The Ultimate Graduation Gift for Professional Success
- Time Management Manifesto: Expert Strategies to Create an Effective Work/Life Balance
- Displacement Day: When My Job was Looking for a Job…A Reference Guide to Finding Work
- The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas: Growing from a Cynic to a Professional in the Corporate World
- From Fear to Success: A Practical Public-speaking Guide received the Gold Medal at the 2013 Axiom Business Book Awards in Business Reference
- The Unofficial Guide to Fatherhood