Time is extremely valuable, and now more than ever, you have a lot on your plate. Technology is allowing many to work from home, but with multiple communication channels now to monitor and maintain, we are being bombarded by enormous amounts of noise. There are no lines between home and work as COVID-19 attacked us all.
We have zero control over COVID-19 nor can we turn back the hands of time or add more hours to the day. If we could, we would be zillionaires! What we can do, however, is manage our time more efficiently. The secret to effective mastering time management is to understand we have absolutely no control over time at all. In fact, the term itself is misleading. Webster’s dictionary defines time as “a continuum in which events succeed one another from past through present to future.” In other words, ‘time’ is simply a concept used to measure a series or succession of events.
Our lives are made up of a series of events. If we want get more done, to experience less stress, and enjoy greater productivity, control, security, order, or even variety in our lives, then we must control the events that make up the time in our life.
Consequently, time management can be defined as event management. For purposes of this article, I will use these terms interchangeably. Time management, therefore, gives us the ability to exert greater influence on our immediate environment and can have a very positive impact our attitude, self-esteem, and overall satisfaction in both our personal and professional lives.
A wonderful tool to help give us perspective is what I call the Circle of Influence.
The larger circle represents everything we care about and have concern over . . . basically everything. I call it our Circle of Concern. We care about COVID-19, world hunger, climate change, earthquakes, hurricanes, wars—fill in the blank! The problem is that most of us do not have any control over any of them. Sure, we can stay at home, wash our hands, and adhere to shelter-in-place regulations, but we don’t have the cure. We don’t have a special phone we can pick up and call someone to say, “Hey, stop that!” or “Do this.” As a result, we spin our wheels and waste valuable energy on things we cannot change.
The smaller circle indicates what I call our Circle of Influence. This is where the power comes. We identify what we truly can influence: our spouse, our kids, our neighborhood, our department at work, etc. By staying at home, you are doing what you can to help. Some of you might be thinking, “Uh but my wife has a mind of her own,” and you would be correct. How much can we truly influence others? The answer depends upon you and the people in your life.
That brings me to the smallest circle, which is YOU. We may have some influence over others, but we have 100 percent control over our own thoughts, behaviors, and actions. Spend your time, energy, and efforts here, and you WILL get results. I encourage you to stop focusing on what others are doing or not doing. Instead, concentrate on yourself and doing your best with what you have each and every day.
Take a minute to write out what concerns you have in the outer circle, then write out who and what you have some influence over. Let go of the outer circle and do what you can to influence others. The truth is, the more you work on yourself, the more others will see a difference, and that will influence them.
Effective time management allows us to exert a greater degree of influence on the world around us and can have a tremendously positive impact on our attitude, self-esteem, and overall satisfaction in both our personal and professional lives.
But before we can truly begin to understand effective time management, we must eliminate two common misconceptions about time:
- Believing we will have more time in the future.
- Thinking we can somehow save time.
The truth is, each and every day, we are all given the same 24 hours to use as everyone else. No more, no less. We will have the same amount of time to use next week as we were given this week, and after COVID-19, time will tick away at the same rate. What you accomplish then is a direct result of how effectively you use (or manage) your time / life’s events.
If you find yourself constantly behind schedule, disorganized, or frustrated with having more to do than hours in a day, you may benefit from a time-management coach like myself. I’m available to help you via Zoom, or you can purchase a copy of my Mastering Time Management PDF book to make better use of your time. Time is a gift; let’s not waste it.