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The Myth Of Time Management

Written by: Dr. Pamela Stoodley, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 

Ever wonder why some people can do so much with the amount of time they have while some struggle to 'find the time' to do things albeit juggling with the exact number of hours dispensed to all?

fantasy unreal portrait

The outcome of this is often thought to be dependent on one of two things: One, excellent time management for the former group of people and/or two, the busyness of the individuals falling in the latter group.


First, let's take a look at time management ‒ the very act of managing time implies that we can either start, stop, reduce or increase the amount of time we have at our disposal every single day. This oxymoron would either mean ‒ people who can accomplish a lot are good with 'managing their time' or people who cannot accomplish the tasks they've set out to are extremely busy and therefore just don't have the time


Management of something by virtue connotes control over its inception, progression and culmination. So being in control of time makes it an absurd concept. The maximum amount of time any individual has on any given day is twenty-four hours. You are not able to bank time away to add to the next day, redeem extra minutes in exchange for something or simply 'find' time to do something because time isn't lying around to be found.


Second, we address the theory of busyness. I'm reminded of a quote by naturalist and philosopher, Henry David Thoreau who said that “it's not enough to be busy, so are the ants. The question is – what are we busy about?”


Without going into the various reasons why people find themselves buried in long hours of work or other activities to keep themselves distracted ‒ there is just one glaring fact that needs to be highlighted as per Parkinson's Law that states "work expands to fill the time available for its completion."


And that fact is ‒ busyness is not a virtue.


Now, while all this may sound grim to those who are looking for a solution to their battle with time, there is something else instead that you can definitely manage.


Yourself!


Yes, self-management is a real thing and unlike time ‒ it is within your control. Managing yourself sounds extremely simple but with it comes two factors that often deter people from accepting it as a foolproof solution.

  1. Accountability ‒ Self-management is governed by the principle of taking ownership. It leaves no room for excuses to blame time for failure to start, be consistent or complete something.

  2. Growth ‒ A by-product of self-management, wherein by managing oneself ‒ one's own strengths and weaknesses are brought to the forefront. The onus lies on the individual to make appropriate changes for self-growth in order to make good use of their time.

As mentioned above, these factors are deterrents to those who can't find the time. This is because people often view accountability with a negative outlook. They feel that in taking responsibility, they are expected to always succeed and never fail. This spirals into the realm of avoidance, self-doubt, anxiety, panic etc. It also makes the individual very uncomfortable because in being accountable for something, they are privy to their own pluses and minuses and so making appropriate changes implies, stepping out of their comfort zone.


Thankfully, going about self-management to utilise your time efficiently can be customised to suit your personality and needs with some of the guidelines listed below.


1. Triage


Prioritise your tasks at the start of the day or even the night before. This sets you on a metaphoric path with a map rather than rowing a boat feeling clueless in the middle of the sea. When impromptu engagements arise requiring urgent attention, it makes it easier for you to swap them for the less important tasks you had planned for that day. Prioritising also prepares you to seek assistance where required when you are aware of your limitations without wasting time over trial and error or procrastination.


2. Monotask


While multitasking is made out to be a superpower some individuals are apparently bestowed with, it actually is a hindrance when it comes to achieving a task qualitatively. Monotasking requires you to focus on the task at hand with minimum interruptions and produce qualitative work. Earl Miller, a neuroscience professor at MIT, suggests that individuals who believe they are multitasking are not truly doing so. Instead, they are rapidly switching between tasks which eventually leads to cognitive strain. This stress accumulates over time and can result in exhaustion, overload, and burnout, and is more likely to degrade the performance on any of their tasks.


3. Kaizen


“Kai = change and Zen = wisdom. So Kaizen essentially implies that all life changes should be made slowly and wisely rather than spontaneously and impulsively. According to this principle, if you want to incorporate a routine into your life, or make a change, you will need to do that particular task, every day, at the same time, for one minute only. Sixty seconds sounds a lot more achievable than thirty minutes or one hour. All you need to do is take one step at a time.


4. Language


Pay close attention to the words you use to describe yourself. Instead of saying, 'I'm very busy, I don't have the time.' try saying, "This is not a priority for me right now." This clarifies not only to others but also to our own minds that we do possibly have the time to do it, however, we just don't want to do it. It also helps us reflect on important matters we tend to put off using the same statement ‒ like getting that suspicious mole checked out for example. 'Am I really very busy or is my health not a priority at the moment?' Changing our language signals to our minds that what we do with our time is actually a choice. If we dislike how we are spending it, we can choose differently.


5. Self-care


While it helps to take a break and get a relaxing massage, self-care in the true sense of the phrase is to look after your self ‒ body and mind. Making sure you sleep adequately, eat to meet the demands of your health and take regular breaks to move, reset and return ensures that you are keeping your mind and body at optimal levels to perform the tasks you've set out to achieve. It also means that you listen to when your body needs more attention on some days than others.


There are several productivity techniques out there that help with implementing principles like the Pomodoro Technique, Eisenhower Matrix, Pareto Analysis, Rapid Planning Method and more. Choose one that suits your needs or adopt and tweak to customise it ‒ keeping in mind the above guidelines as your foundation.


“Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.” ‒ Paul J. Meyer.

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Dr. Pamela Stoodley, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Dr Pamela Stoodley is a polymath with her range of specialties in being a general physician, child and adolescent psychologist, neuropsychologist, counsellor in addictions psychology and a nutritionist. Dr. Stoodley's first book 'Cracking the Happiness Code' teaches people the way our minds work and how best to use it to our advantage. Her life's mission is to show people how they can break the myth of a hard-wired brain and leap forward into the world of neuroplasticity for their own mental (health) agility. Her wish is to be able to empower every human on this planet ‒ from toddlers to retirees, the weapon of Mastering our Minds.

 

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