“Happiness may well consist primarily of an attitude towards time.” Robert Grudin
Here’s an interesting observation.
When coaching took over the world of personal development, time management as a science got lost. In a world where people already had trouble getting through all that had to be done, the ‘New Order’ promoted by Anthony Robbins, Jack Canfield et al moved our focus from just getting by to ‘coming through on our dreams’. But in all the training programmes that I, myself, sought and got authority to facilitate, I realised they’d accidentally removed focus from an important element of success.
In all my courses, only one actively taught how to manage time in a systematic fashion.
Now, don’t misunderstand me – the Robbins and Canfield training is marvellous stuff. But what I discovered was that having all these wonderful new philosophies on getting ahead wasn’t supported (adequately) by teaching people how to manage their lives in order to execute on those dreams.
The best analogy I can think of in the moment is trying to build an IKEA bookcase and not being handed the little octagonal bar tool to get the bolts tightened. The objective looks wonderful, but there’s an essential tool missing and without it I will struggle to achieve my goal.
None of us – even the Bransons and Gateses – lives in a bubble where everything we do is controlled, influenced or achieved solely by us as an individual. We live our lives in a framework of things we want to do, things we have to do, things other people would like us to do and things that society demands we do. And not all of those things can be done when it suits us or because it suits us. In other words, we have to do what we want to do when time and circumstances allow.
We have to manage our time – or, to be more accurate (as time cannot be managed), we have to manage ourselves in the context of time. We have to do what we can when there is a suitable opportunity to do it. While we can influence the amount of time we make available to do our wants, we still have an enormous amount of musts that have to be fitted into our finite timescales, as well.
A lot of people have said to me, “I don’t want to do time management training, I want to be spontaneous.”
I’m sure your boss would love to hear that. Turn up when you like, do what you want – that’s the way to run a business.
The truth is that training people into development of a system for managing their time does two things:
- It gets the musts done at the appropriate time; and
- It allows for the fun stuff to be done, too.
Just go with me, here. If you have system whereby you identify the must-dos, list them in order of importance, then do them in that order from the moment you walk into work until they are done, what’s left?
Okay, that ideal may happen so rarely as to be hard to envisage and it may depend upon your place in any hierarchy, but the principle of doing what must be done as soon as possible so as to allow the fun stuff to be done sooner, is valid. And without a systematic approach for doing that, it is unlikely to happen.
If you don’t believe me, ask yourself how often you feel overwhelmed because you ‘haven’t got time’ to do the new thing that just came in? And then you do it anyway, and the world keeps turning.
Then ask how they managed to land on the moon in 9 years from when Kennedy said they would.
Can you imagine the boss at NASA saying, “We haven’t got time. We have to do all this paperwork and get the kids to school and then fetch them and do the shopping.”
No. They did all that AND got Neil Armstrong up there. They managed what needed to be managed within the context of time and the availability and expertise of staff – and still got the kids sorted. Although in those days their wives probably didn’t have jobs (which now doubles the need for time management application).
Plan. Organise. Execute.
It is the only way.
And once you realise you CAN do what needs to be done as well as what you WANT to do, THEN you will find ‘happy’.