Time Is On Your Side

Time is on your side if you let it be.  I probably answer more questions about time and time management than any other area of productivity and organization and, of course, the complaints can all be generally classified as too much work and not enough time.

I think one of the most important and easiest ways to look at the balance between time and work is to look at the language you use.  Take your list of to-do items and read each one twice, first by by adding “I should” to the front and then by adding “I need” to the front.

For each to-do item, which statement is your gut telling you is more true, should or need?  The difference between need and should is your ability to see a consequence you need to avoid versus one that either has no negative consequence or at least not one you can see.

In my book, should is a red flag.  It indicates a lack of commitment, motivation or value.  Set aside all the should items and focus on the need items.  I’d be willing to bet your to-do list just shrank considerably!

Most of us pretty consistently over estimate how many tasks and projects we can do in a day and under estimate how much time each will take.  Depending on your job, 2 or 3 solid projects is a reasonable list of to-do’s for any given day.  If you are a manager whose primary function is to be responsive to the needs of the people you supervise, completing just 1 major task a day may be a solid victory.

Time drags when your activities have no discernible value and it flows beautifully when you are fully engaged in meaningful work even if the meaning is that you now need to file because you’ve reached critical mess and the lack of filing is now creating more probelms than ignoring the filing.

Time can be on your side when you treat it with respect – be reasonable about how much you can get done, make the work valuable and stop worrying about completing every little thingyou think you should do and focus on the tasks that need doing.

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