Master time

We can have endless talks about 'if I had more time..' but do we really want to be time efficient?

I used to experience a lot of resistance about time management. Because I love to get lost in conversation, I don’t want to trade pleasure and connections for efficiency. And also from early on in my career, I found out that the most  productive discussions were often taking place at the coffee machine when you least expect it.

Surely, whoever invented time management didn’t have a good PR team to give it such a bad name! And guess who’s commonly credited for having invented time management?

Frederick Taylor, whose theories in 1909 gave birth to what is now known as 'Taylorism', a factory management system that aims to increase efficiency by breaking down production into specialised repetitive tasks. 

Time seems to be an increasingly scarce resource nowadays, that we can just never seem to get enough of. And this mindset really sabotages our health, and our efforts at getting things done. And the more overwhelm we experience, the less efficient we are. 

More time is not an option, no matter how you slice it, there are only 24 hours in a day. So the only way to raise your game, whether at work or in life, is to manage that scarce resource better. 

For now, here are three time management tips to help you accomplish more with less:

1. Reframe time management

Repetitive work deprived from its purpose is not compelling. We need to evolve from the historical view of time management into something more positive before we can start to embrace it. 

And, in essence, time management is the opportunity to make space for all that matters to you, isn’t it? Whether you want to spend more time with your loved ones, on an activity you want to develop, or just enjoy the journey a little bit more, envisioning the possibilities will give you a much more compelling outlook on time management. It will give you the incentive to regain control of your time.

2. Set time limits  

I will explain this advice using Parkinson’s law. It’s the old adage that work expands to fill the time allotted. Put simply: the longer you have, the longer it takes. 

When you get ruthless about setting deadlines for yourself, this adds an artificial sense of urgency to your work that generates focus. And that focus will make you perform faster. Also, when time is limited, our perception of time is altered. So we might feel time flies and a daunting task can become painless.

When you set a clear cut-off time, you can begin to feel a sense of anticipation for reward. But this is mainly effective where you aim to complete a task in one sitting. It all falls apart if you don't truly believe you can get everything done!

3. Eat your frog

That’s the title of Brian Tracy’s book. The idea behind it is to consciously start with the hardest task first. And most of the time these are the things that are important but not necessarily urgent, the ones that require some effort, otherwise we wouldn’t have postponed them. 

This strategy has several benefits: you have more chances to complete the task in the morning when your willpower is usually the highest. This will also lighten your cognitive load for the rest of the day. And it will boost your levels of dopamine, the 'feel good' neurochemical which comes with a sense of motivation and reward. 

These are three tips that, from my experience, may create the marginal change to your work or in your life that has the potential for massive impact.

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London, SE14

Written by Raphaelle Hernu

London, SE14

Raphaelle is a coach and trainer in Sustainable Performance. She set up Strengthwise for people and businesses to get into a sustainable performing mindset, stay fully engaged and resourceful. She retrained after a 20-year career in finance in Paris and London. She now lives between London and the Monaco area.

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