Time Management vs. Self Management

Some helpful thoughts from David Allen, whose book Getting Things Done has been such a help in my own life:

Time management is not the issue

Most everyone these days admits they could use better “time management.” But the reason it has not really been addressed to any universal satisfaction is because time management isn’t about managing time. If it was, just buying and using a calendar (and a good watch) would handle it.

The savvy among you will usually acknowledge that it’s really self management—what we do with ourselves during the time we have.

Many people these days talk about “information management,” because there’s so much of it, and many consider themselves roadkill along the information superhighway. Too much information is not the problem though—if it were, we would walk into a library or do a web search and die.

So, what is time management, really? It’s dealing effectively with the things we have and want to do. It’s the latest industry publications sitting in a stack on our desk, about which we told ourselves we could/should/ought to do something. And the hundreds of hours of undone “stuff” sitting in most people’s brains (in psychic RAM) and on their desk and on the floor of the back seat of their car.

That’s why my flagship seminar is called Managing Workflow, Projects & Priorities—because that’s what time management really is. It’s about capturing things we collect and create, deciding what (if anything) we want to do about them, organizing the results of that knowledge work into a trusted system we can review appropriately, and making intuitive strategic and tactical choices about what to do at any point in time from our options.

It’s hard to manage your workflow, projects, and priorities though, when you don’t really know what they all are, or if they are still unclear. “Projects” are results that require more than one action step to get done, and they need to be defined and reviewed as stakes in the ground to keep us moving toward their goal line. And the “moving” needs to be defined (“What’s the next action?”), so we can execute elegantly and intuitively when the ball is snapped, instead of continually thinking that we should be thinking about what to do.

When I ask people, “What’s the next action?” on big projects they’re procrastinating about, the answer is often, “Find time to….” Well, you won’t ever have time to change your corporate culture, write the book, or lose weight. Until you define the very next action, you don’t know how much time you really need. “Pick a date and email my assistant to set the senior team meeting about changing our culture” only takes two minutes—less time than it took to read this essay.

SDG,
The Farmer

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: