Learn the secrets successful people use to categorize their time more effectively
“Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time; for that’s the stuff life is made of.” – Benjamin Franklin
What could you do if you had the same, exact amount of treasure as someone like Oprah Winfrey? When I said, “treasure”, your mind might have automatically gone to the number on their bank accounts. But what if I told you that wasn’t the most important number to consider? Because it’s not.
Here’s the thing that you have right now today — the same exact allotment of time. It sounds trite. Time is money. You’ve heard that before, and it’s true.
There is one thing any high-performing successful leader knows and does differently than the average person. They know how to categorize time.
Time management is something that I talk about a lot because, frankly, we often feel like we have less of it. There are so many distractions. People try to multitask and only find themselves pulled in a million different directions. That’s a good way to burn out, not a great way to reach your goals. If you want to be a transformational leader, you must learn strategies to maximize your time.
The good news is that you can learn how to categorize time to develop the right strategy to not only meet your goals but exceed them past your wildest expectations. That’s what we’re going to talk about today.
We’ll discuss the ways average people manage their time. You’ll learn why time management is one of the most important tools to create success. Not only that, but I’m going to define the three types of time. With these classifications, I’ll give you a time management technique that shows you how to treat time the same way successful people do.
How Do You Manage Your Time?
There are a million time management tips out there.
Ten Tips to Better Manage Your Time.
Five Ways You’re Using Time Ineffectively.
Okay, I made those up, but I bet you could find a resource with an almost identical title. They all have something in common — they tell you what NOT to do. While that’s helpful, it doesn’t really paint a great picture for you to pivot into what really works.
I’m going to give you those steps in the next section, but I did want to start with what you’re doing now. That’s the thing those “what not to do” lists get right: it’s hard to change a bad habit until you identify it. So we need to look at the time management techniques you’re using today and how successful (or not) they really are.
Time Management Techniques That Work
You didn’t get to be a successful leader without using some good time management techniques. Let’s stop for a second and see if you’re using any of these techniques that can help you maintain productivity and reduce inefficiencies.
- Prioritizing With Purpose
- Treat Your Calendar With Reverence
- Make Time to Play
Prioritizing With Purpose
It’s difficult to hit your goals if you haven’t planned for them. That means scheduling tasks to help you reach that final goal. You can’t master your schedule if you haven’t set firm priorities. There are a million tasks in a day, but some are far more important than others. A good practice is to sit down with your schedule at the end of each day to prioritize your list of tasks for the following day.
Treat Your Calendar With Reverence
At the Brave Thinking Institute, we know that the calendar is a tool of transformation. Our calendars keep us on track but they also keep us connected. By adding all of our personal and professional time commitments on a consistent basis, we make it easy for others to see when we’re busy, and when it’s a good time to connect.
If you put it on the calendar, it exists. Giving the task its own entry makes it a scheduled commitment, not a goal in the future.
Make Time to Play
If you want to stay productive, you need to make time for fun! Hopefully, you’re adding fun into all of your tasks and priorities, because it’s a higher vibration and it makes your life more enjoyable. But we also know that you need to take scheduled breaks in your work to help focus your concentration. If you work non-stop for many hours, you’ll find that your productivity actually decreases.
Schedule some time for fun. Step away from the computer and play with your dog or go for a walk. When you come back to work, you’ll have more energy and find you complete tasks much faster.
Time Management Flaws to Avoid
We can talk all day about best practices for time management, but it’s likely you’re still doing some things that waste time. Here are a few of the big mistakes I see people making:
- Not Unplugging
- Not Setting Clear Deadlines
The myth of multitasking weighs heavily on most professionals. Entrepreneurs seem to have the most immediate issue with this because they do need to wear so many hats.
Once people talked about multitasking as if it was an enviable skill to develop. Now, we know that it actually diminishes concentration. There will be times when you have to answer unexpected questions or pivot what you’re doing. But don’t intentionally set out to multitask. It will make it more difficult to complete tasks and maintain momentum.
We’re in a technologically advanced world and we all have access to a million different channels at all times. While that can be a wonderful benefit in the workforce, it can also divert your concentration tremendously.
I advocate setting time for those connections. Mute your phone, don’t check your email, leave messages unread for set periods during the day to concentrate. If you stop every time your phone dings, you won’t get very much done. That’s especially true for busy leaders who are in high demand.
Not Setting Clear Deadlines
Every task you need to accomplish should have a clear deadline. At the Brave Thinking Institute, we call this a “by when”. When a team member indicates that they will complete a goal, they have to give a by when date. This commitment keeps you focused on completing those tasks.
There are a million fun and fantastic ideas in the world. But you won’t make any progress on them if you don’t give yourself clear deadlines.
Time Management Technique: 3 Types of Time
Are you ready for the secret to really make the most of your time? Well, it’s in how you understand time.
Not only that, it’s individual for you. Every one of us has our own internal clock. Some of us are night owls, which means we’re more productive late at night. Other people are early birds, and they come up with their highest energy and best ideas in the morning.
There’s no right or wrong answer to your internal clock. You need to understand how your own clock is set and then work within those constructs. So keep this in mind as we move forward with this fantastic time management technique. Think about when you have the best energy, and think about what tasks you’re doing during that time.
The three types of time are:
- Peak Time
- Block Time
- Einstein Time
1 — Peak Time
I talked above about your own internal clock. Every one of us has a body clock or circadian rhythm. This is the time of day when you’re at your best. If you pay attention to your own energy levels every day for a few days, you can easily pick this out.
It doesn’t matter what time of day you have the most energy. What matters is that you identify it. That’s your peak time.
Once you know when your peak time is, you need to schedule your highest priority and most important activities for that time.
I can’t stress how important this is. I learned this tool fifteen years ago and it absolutely skyrocketed my level of productivity. I’m a morning person. I used to spend my mornings doing the usual opening day things. I checked email, responded to messages, and did a lot of mundane things to prepare for the day.
Once I realized those were my peak hours, I changed my schedule. I had been using my best hours to do very low-value tasks on my overall priority list. I didn’t need a lot of energy to respond to emails. I needed that energy to focus on high-level tasks, such as business insights and real innovations.
When I started putting the most important activities in my peak time, my productivity shot up. What’s even better, I didn’t have to put in extra effort for better results. It actually meant that I spent less time working because I was so much more efficient.
2 — Block Time
The second kind of time is block time. This is when you block out time to complete set tasks. I block out time on my calendar and I schedule tasks based on my own peak time.
I talked about multitasking as one of the flaws you might have earlier in this post. Studies have shown that the idea of multitasking is a myth. You might think that you’re getting more done, but the reality is far different.
Multitasking means you’re context switching between activities.
This is less productive because switching back and forth in this way keeps you from getting into a full flow of thoughts on the topic or task.
If you block out time and focus on one task at a time, studies show that you’ll get more done in the exact same amount of time. When you block time, you will also want to limit your distractions. You can turn your apps and phone to “do not disturb”, turn off notifications, and put it on your calendar so people know to honor your time.
By blocking time, you make sure you’re not switching what you’re doing mid-task. If you’re not stopping and starting, you’ll find that you’re far more productive with the amount of time you have.
3 — Einstein Time
The third category of time is called Einstein Time. I got this from one of my favorite coaches and authors, the masterful Gay Hendricks. Full disclosure, Gay is also a colleague and friend of the Brave Thinking Institute.
I love Gay’s use of Einstein’s theory of relativity and how he relates time the way Einstein talked about it. Many people claim that Einstein once said that if you put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, it feels like an hour. But if you sit with a pretty girl for an hour, it feels like a minute. Time is relative.
Here’s the key to implementing Einstein Time – it’s about knowing what your relationship with time is. When you’re doing something that you really love, time flies. You just need to understand that you have a relationship with time.
There are three relationships that people have with time:
- There’s Never Enough Time
- There’s Just Enough Time
- There’s Plenty of Time
1 — There’s Never Enough Time
Are you the kind of person who feels like there’s never enough time? Think about this, if you’re constantly telling yourself there’s never enough time, you’re reinforcing the idea that you can’t succeed. You’re giving yourself permission to fail.
You have the exact same amount of time as everyone else. If you feel like there’s not enough time, you need to stop and think about alternative ways to accomplish or break down your goals. Because there is enough time.
2 — There’s Just Enough Time
This is a better relationship with time than believing there’s never enough. But, you’re still stressed or under pressure to complete what you need to by the deadline.
People who think there’s “just” enough time are often working right up to the deadline. And when you do that, you always feel like you could have done just a bit better with a little more time.
3 — There’s Plenty of Time
There’s plenty of time is the best relationship you can have with time. When you feel that there’s plenty of time to complete what you need to accomplish, you can relax into a flow and invest your full attention in the task.
Often, to get to a state where there’s plenty of time, you’ve mastered the art of time management. You can clearly identify what needs to get done and break those steps up in a way that removes the worry and stress.
When you find that your energy is telling you there’s not enough time, or you’re rushed with the urgency of there’s “just” enough time, take a deep breath. Relax and tell yourself, “There’s plenty of time to do everything I need to do”. You’ll find just that shift in mindset that embraces optimism will make you more productive.
Ready to Step into the Mindset Successful People Use with Time Management?
I invite you to think about your relationship with time. Be honest with yourself. Are you a person who thinks there’s never enough time or that there’s just enough time? What changes can you make to reach that level of believing that there’s plenty of time?
Use these three types of time to fully engage with your tasks. To get into a flow with the things you love and reach that level of Einstein Time where your talents come forth in great abundance. This is a regular practice. But once you understand your relationship with time, you can move in the direction you need to for increased productivity.
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Thank you for reading. Think Bravely and Act Boldly!