One can easily say that in any endeavor, mindset accounts for 80% of the success, whereas all the rest falls under the remaining 20%.
It is the same with time management.
Old ways won’t open new doors. Or, in more modern terms: you can’t install a brand-new game on an old operating system. Once you change your mindset, everything else will change along with it.
If you skip this important step (adjusting your mindset), it will feel like driving your car with the handbrakes on. You won’t get anywhere and the small steps you might be able to take, you will pay for with an unnecessary amount of effort.
Below, I introduce you to four important concepts about time management that I invite you to embrace in order to get an empowering and supportive mindset.
1 – There is enough time.
Do you sometimes think “there is so much to do and so little time”? Think again.
Time is relative. Not only do we experience it passing by at different speeds depending on our state of mind, there is also another paradox of time: We want more of it, but when we have some time freed up, we try to “kill” it. We can’t do anything. We fight boredom. Usually, in the least productive way.
“I have no time” is an excuse for “I don’t want to” or “This is not my priority right now.” Of course, we have time. We have to choose to.
No one on this planet gets a special treatment when it comes to time. We all have the same 24 hours in the day that we can allocate to work, play, and sleep. Successful people just manage their time differently.
One of their secret weapons is the mindset of time abundance. “I have all the time in the world” is a more empowering thought, than “There is so much to do and not enough time to do it.”
Another one is the adherence to the Pareto principle. This principle outlines that 80% of your results will come from 20% of your efforts. So, if you want to make sure that you use the limited amount of time you are credited daily by your creator wisely, obsess about identifying that 20% of tasks.
2 – Work is never over. Work creates more work.
Almost every email you write will create a response. If you address an email to many people, then even more so, because of the tendency of people to “reply all”.
Every time you speak up in a meeting, this can lead to extra work. “Hey John, that’s a great idea. Can I ask you to look into this and get back to the team with a proposal?”
But don’t stress. And don’t stop contributing. Productivity is not about getting EVERYTHING done. Productivity is all about juggling the day, and feeling at any given point that you are doing the right thing while moving your important projects forward.
3 – Make Parkinson’s Law work for you.
Parkinson’s Law claims: “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” In other words, if you give a two-hour task one week, it will take one week to complete. Mostly, by deviating from the core needs of a task.
Both are true. People often underestimate how long something will take to complete, but they also often have an inflated idea of how long things take. We are very bad at predicting the future.
Two things will help to manage Parkinson: (1) you must become better at your time projections by observing how long you need for certain things and (2) you must learn to distinguish between the essence and the nice-to-haves within a task.
Tame your perfectionism and your ego. You don’t need to show off that you know something or have done extensive research. Give the audience what they need to make an informed decision. Become comfortable with the bare minimum to start with.
4 – You are in charge.
It might require a bit of time to make this important mindset shift, but YOU are in charge! It is YOU who controls your time. YOU can decide how you spend your time. By ignoring this, you give away an immense power to other people.
If you find yourself blaming circumstances or other people for the fact that you don’t have the time or have too much to do, then you need to re-think this point. Most of the time it is YOU who is sabotaging yourself. Here is how:
You don’t have a system to handle uncertainties.
Many things are out of our control, but we can control how we react to them. Most companies have contingency plans for many things that can go wrong. What do YOU have in place to deal with the unexpected? How will you react when you get pulled into corridor conversations? How will you react when your boss comes with more work? You can easily define upfront the way on how you will handle some of the things that you feel impact your productivity.
You don’t know your role.
In many cases, people blindly accept extra work from their bosses because they do not understand their work boundaries and thereby are not at ease with defending them. It is not uncommon in complex matrix work environments to have overlapping responsibilities and territorial competition amongst departments. But understanding what your work includes and what not, will help you to gently, but assertively, confront your boss and other colleagues who easily express requests.
You are not aware of your behavioral triggers.
It can very well be that you accept work or reply to emails right away. Not because it is the right thing to do, but because you want to be liked. Or, it is the other way around: you are afraid of the consequences of not doing so. A very common reason might also be that you expect the same behavior in return. In this case, you would reply to emails immediately because you’d hope for the other person to help you out in the same way. Become aware of the underlying reasons you do what you do.
Flip the switch on these four principles to transform your time management.
- There is enough time: Stop saying you are busy. Reduce or eliminate your feeling overwhelmed by defining the key projects you are working on; the 20% that will yield 80% of your results.
- Work is never over. Work creates more work: don’t try to get everything done. Make sure you make progress on what matters.
- Make Parkinson’s Law work for you: Set deadlines for yourself; tame your perfectionism and ego. Otherwise, you won’t get much done.
- You are in charge: Stop pointing fingers, and take responsibility for your situation. If you don’t like how things are, only you can change it. Start with the man/woman in the mirror.
Call to Action:
Ask yourself this: What limiting beliefs and assumptions about time might be holding you back? What empowering statements could you use instead? Draw a table and write down on the left side what your mind is trying to tell you to convince you otherwise? What’s your initial objection to being more productive? Your “old story”? Then, write on the right side empowering statements to replace those negative thoughts.
About the trainer and coach: Anastasios “Tasso” Tsirpouchtsidis
Tasso’s mission is to help people show up at their best – at work and in life. To raise their ambitions, overcome self-limiting beliefs, and take meaningful action. He strongly believes that the way to success is rooted in an empowering mindset and self-image as well as strong habits. Find out more about Tasso here.