One of the more common requests I receive from clients is to guide them in finding more time at work. There is always more work than the time they have and they look to me to resolve this issue.
However it is impossible to find more time or even manage time. Time is constant and there are only 24 hours in a day for you, me and everyone else. All you can hope to do is organise what you do in the time you have rather than organise the time you have around what you have to do. Which is why I call this priority management and not time management.
When I begin the process of priority management as I have described in the podcast of 2nd April 2012, some of my clients stop me and say:
“Mark, I want to learn how to do all this work, just quicker”
And here we enter the crux of the issue why so many find themselves with too much work to accomplish. The question you must ask yourself is not how can you do this work quicker but what work would help you achieve your priorities. The difference between being efficient and being effective is an important difference to understand as there is little point in doing an activity quickly if it does not lead you effectively towards your priorities. Doing the wrong action quickly is not effective.
Do not misunderstand me, I know how difficult this is as everything you do seems urgent. Many managers I meet spend so much time putting out small fires, solving problems ( and some even solve the problems of the people that work for them which is not a good idea if repeated often ) and very quickly feel frustrated. But as soon as you realise that you do not have to do everything and it is better to use your precious time and energy doing only those things that bring you closer to your priority, you suddenly find you have more time and more ability to find creative solutions. There is nothing that kills creative thinking like feeling overburdened with work.
The Bottom Line
Being efficient is not as productive as being effective. Take a look at your priorities and see how many of the activities you do each and every day bring you closer to reaching those priorities and the objectives that underpin them. You might be shocked, I know I am when I do this exercise every 6 months.
24th September 2012