Dec 21, 2022

Manage Your Time Better

Manage Your Time Better

Manage Your Time Better

Nathan King

Man is ill-equipped to manage his time.

…wrote Peter Drucker in his excellent book, The Effective Executive.

This year is drawing to an end and people everywhere have turned attention to creating goals and plans for the next year. But if we are not prepared to manage time well, doesn't it follow that we are likely to blow it when we set goals?

This inconvenient fact will get in the way of most people's efforts to achieve goals in 2023.

Drucker worked with executives at leading corporations from the 50s through the 90s. He described his lackluster experience with executives understanding their time:

I sometimes ask executives who pride themselves on their memory to put down their guess as to how they spend their own time. Then I lock these guesses away for a few weeks or months. In the meantime, the executives run an actual time record on themselves. There is never much resemblance between the way these men thought they used their time and their actual records.

Executives, well paid, accustomed to results, have no idea where their time goes.

Imagine how much you would stand out if you did.

The time problem is true for you and me too. You know the feeling of dreaming up how you will fill a Saturday with no obligations. Your list of 20 things gets 5 things crossed out at the end of the day.

A beautiful quality of humans is our ability to imagine infinite possibility, even though we are finite beings.

But sadly, as Oliver Burkeman writes in Four Thousand Weeks,

Any finite life—even the best one you could possibly imagine—is therefore a matter of ceaselessly waving goodbye to possibility.

It's a cruel, bitter reality.

But! If we are to make a difference in the world, it is crucial that we accept our finite time and manage it well.

Managing time well starts with knowing where our time goes.

Do This First

The single most valuable way to increase your productivity is to track your time.

By clearly understanding where your time goes, you will:

  1. Stop completing tasks that are irrelevant to who you want to become

  2. Delegate tasks that someone else can do just as well, if not better

  3. Identify places in your day where you can be more intentional with what you actually want to become

The Process of Tracking Time

There are sophisticated time-tracking apps out there. But you and I are busy. Tracking our time is a means to an end. We need something that requires 0 learning curve, no sign ups, etc. So use this simple Google sheet and follow the steps:

  1. Save a copy of this workbook for yourself - either in your own Google account, or download it as Excel.

  2. Decide: will you track digitally or on paper? There is no better way than another. If on paper, print 5 copies (one for each day) of the tab "Log - Print Version" and enjoy. Otherwise, proceed to step 3.

  3. Plan to track for one work week. Simply keep adding rows below, taking care to add the correct date.

  4. For column F, "Meeting", use the checkbox to indicate if it was a meeting. This will give you visibility into how much time is going into meetings.

  5. For column G, "Category", this can feel complicated. Complicated processes cause us to quit. Recommendation: fill it in retrospectively after the week is over.

    The Results Will Surprise You

    Schedule 30 minutes with yourself to review your log at the end of the week.

    • Where did your time go?

    • What did you not spend time on that is important to you?

    • What will you remove next week so that you spend time on what is important?

    Managing time is a skill that takes practice. Do it well and you will accomplish your goals unlike ever before.




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