Almost every week, without fail, a PartnerHero associate will approach me and ask for some time to chat. Once we are on the call or meeting face-to-face, I ask them how can I help you? They typically ask one or two questions about how to deal with something in there lives, how to grow at work, or how best to pursue their own business ideas.
But to a tee, almost all of them also ask me this: how can I manage my time better? Or, as they say it exactly: “I’m having issues managing my time. Need to get a lot done, just don’t know how to manage all the various things I need to do.”
Short-answer: you don’t have a time-management problem; you have a “I don’t give a shit problem.”
Let me explain.
Look at your day, look at your week. How do you spend your time? You probably have a list that looks something like this:
- I get up in the morning and have breakfast.
- I drink coffee/tea.
- I workout.
- I go to church/mosque/temple/etc.
- I go to an organization and volunteer my time.
- I shower.
- I go to work.
- I go to lunch.
- I go home.
- I go to school.
- I go to my night job.
- I meet friends.
- I study.
- I visit my family.
- I go to the gym.
- I work on my own development/forming new habits/learning new things.
- I read a book.
- I do laundry.
- I clean my room/house.
- I get a haircut/get my nails-done/etc.
- I go to the mall/supermarket/store and buy things.
- I spend time on Facebook/WhatsApp/etc.
- I watch a movie.
- I listen to music.
- I plan/go on a vacation/romantic dinner/date-night/birthday party.
- I eat dinner.
- I pay my bills.
- I write/create/work-on art/music/my passion project/etc.
- I spend time with my loved ones.
- I go to bars and clubs.
- I go to sleep.
Now, that’s a really long list, for anyone. So each of us probably has a slightly different list. Go ahead: start your own list and document how you spend your time. If you look at how you are ACTUALLY spending your time (versus what you THINK you are spending your time on) you will notice two things.
First, there are probably a lot of items on the reference list above that you WISH you had time to do. I’m guessing that each of us would love to have time to do at least 4–7 more things in our day.
Second, if you really look hard at your own list (perhaps by closing everything else and slightly squinting your eyes) you will learn something about yourself.
Your list represents what is most important to you.
The stuff that didn’t make it to your list describes the stuff “you don’t give a shit about.” And that, my friends, is the truth.
So if you tell me you have a time management problem, my immediate answer is: bullshit. You choose to do the things that are most important to you. For example, if you don’t have “I read a book” on your list, don’t ask me to help you manage your time. Because all the time in the world wouldn’t make reading more important for you. It either is, or it isn’t. Period.
I rarely eat breakfast, and many days I forget to have lunch. But I sure as hell will NOT go a single day without drinking coffee. Why? Because one of these is important to me, and the others just aren’t that important.
So the key to “time management” is honesty: be honest about how you are spending your time, and what you THINK is important to you. If there is an item missing from your list, see if something that is currently on your list can be de-prioritized, or made less important.
That, my friends, is how I do “time management.”