If you feel like you have a time management problem, there are a number of things that you might be doing to generate that feeling.
- Lack of Priorities: You will find it difficult to be productive with your time if you haven’t defined your priorities. If you don’t know what your biggest priorities are, then you will have trouble deciding where to spend your time.
- You Haven’t Defined Your Work: Through most of history, you knew what work needed done. There was no thinking required. If you lived in the Agrarian Age, you woke up, took care of the animals, worked in the fields, and went to bed to start over. In the Industrial Age, you repeated the same work over and over. Now, you are a knowledge worker and you have to figure out what work you need to do, when you need to do it, and how to do it.
- Lack of Planning: If you show up to work without having planned the work you are going to do in a given week, you will always feel like you didn’t accomplish much. Being productive with your time isn’t about working. Being productive is about working on the most important things you need to do. The planning work is one of the keys to getting things done.
- You Haven’t Blocked Time: Nothing gets done unless you invest the time, focus, and energy. If you have not blocked time for what’s most important, other people’s priorities will encroach upon your time. Blocking time is how you make time.
- You Are Allowing Distractions: If you phone is on and your browser and email are open, you are not really trying to be productive. You are trying to be entertained. Your best work can only be done when you give yourself over to it. Distractions make you a dabbler.
- You Are Addicted to Urgency: It’s possible that if you believe you have a time management problem, what you really have an addiction to fighting fires. If it makes you feel valuable to solve problems as they pop up, what is important will be ignored, so you can make time for what is urgent.
- You Are Comfortable Being Reactive: You can learn to be comfortable in reactive mode, scanning your email, looking for things that feel like work without moving you any closer to your goals, and without moving any projects forward.
If you ever feel like you don’t have enough time, one or more of these is likely to be the reason. You have the same time as every one else. Getting more time means investing in more meaningful, purposeful work.