Friday, 20 January 2012

On Money: Time Management

It is often said that time is money, you must have heard it, its a common phrase that is thrown around in a lot of conversations. Time is indeed money, after all at our work places or in our business we are paid for the time we spent working. I will add to the phrase that Time & Knowledge are money. Today however we are just concerned about time we will deal with knowledge in the next posts on A Life Long Habit of Learning. In my first post in these series of Money I pointed out that one of the most crippling factor in the quest of poor people to break the cycle of poverty is lack of time, its not really lack of time but lack of time management. No one has more time than another. We have the same amount of time in every day as everyone else. We have the same number of minutes in our hours and the same number of hours in our day. Yet successful people who will not settle for less seem to accomplish more than we do within the same amount of time that we have. Why is that?

When we wake to go to work or our places of business, we do so in such a hurry that we fail to notice our surroundings such trees, flowers, birds, the clean crisp air, we are oblivious in of rush of the beauty of the world simply because we proclaim to have no time. Instead of us controlling the time we end being controlled by time, it dictates when we go to bed when we work we get trapped such that we are frequently saying we have no time or we waste that time we have. In order to control time instead of it controlling us we need to learn effective time management. Time management is simple, it consists of two aspects; 1) Mental Attitude 2) Planning

1) Mental Attitude

The relentless ticking of the clock holds the impression that there isn’t enough time to do what we want to do. For example there are things we might have been meaning to do for a long time now, like learning a language, visiting some place, studying, writing a book, If only we had more time we lament. We are so busy. But are we really busy or we give ourselves a semblance of being busy. A lot of people waste money on time management courses and countless of hours with experts at work being told how they can manage time but do they need an expert to manage their own time? No they do not, if we have not taken that course to learn another language its because we do not want to take it. Its simple it has got nothing to do with time, same as visiting that place you have always wanted to, we did not because we did not want to. We do the things we want, we have that freedom to choose to the things we want so when we do something else over and above that one which we say we do not have time to its because we did not want to. If you really need to study you will find the time to study, if you really need to write that book then you will make time to write it.

Lets suppose I employ you to sell my seminar "What Will You Settle For" which will cost delegates £10 to attend, however I propose to pay you £100 for every delegate you can sign up in the next 48 hours. Tell me how much time are you going to spend watching that re-run of Come Dine With Me? How much time will you spend reading the paper about last night's match which you watched live last night? How much time will you spend chatting on the phone with the "Gurlz" about the up coming party? How much time will you spend eating, drinking beer while you listen to your growing collection music? I think with such a proposal you will spend most of your time time talking to prospective delegates in order to maximise the number of delegates you can sign in the next 48 hours, remember its £100 for every delegate you sign up. Replace signing up a delegate for any activity that you think you do not have time, if you are studying suppose on completion of your study I will give you £1000 but if you get a distinction or an upper second then I will give you £50000 and £30000 respectively, do you think you could find the time to study?

What I am saying is simple, if you have a goal and burning desire to achieve it obviously given the rewards that goal will offer you, then you will not need a course and a manual in time management. As a matter of fact the time that you will give towards your goal will be determined by how much you want to achieve it. If you want it badly then trust me you will have the time to do it. You need to spot the key difference; you have to want badly to achieve something to find time for it and are not just wishing to do something, wishing will never give you the time. I started with mental attitude as opposed to straight diary and calender planning because, for every activity you undertake you need to first identify why you want to do it? Once you have convinced yourself the importance of attaining your goal you will have mastered the ability to control time.

2) Planning

The head start in time management you have it from the above, you know what you want to do, you have listed the things that you what to do in the order of their priority. The priority here is determined by how much you value attaining that goal. You ill then proceed to divide your day's 24 hours with the number of activities you have to do, lets say for example you are employed or you run a business, you spend 10 hours of your day commuting and at work, you are left with 14 hours of the day, 2.5 of those hours are spent either cooking, eating or doing household chores, living you with 11.5 hours of which depending on the goal you have set, you will decide how much of that is for sleeping suppose you give yourself 4.5 hours sleep that will leave 7 hours, will you spend the 7 hours watching millionaires kicking football, being entertained yet you want to take a course that will improve your career prospects or improve your business.

I rely on a prioritisation matrix developed by Stephen Covey to ensure I focus my attention on those activities that contribute towards my strategic goals. Without doing so, I have found that it is too easy to get consumed by non-important tasks. Covey first introduced his time management matrix in his book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. It involves a matrix composed of four quadrants that define how we spend our time:

I. Important and Urgent

II. Important but Not Urgent

III. Not Important but Urgent

IV. Not Important and Not Urgent

The two factors that define an activity are urgency and importance. Urgent activities are self-explanatory; they require immediate attention. Importance has to do with results - if something is important, then it contributes to one's strategic goals or mission. We react to urgent matters while we tend to plan important activities.

Finding More Time

Here is a trick which I have learnt that will ensure you find more time; it is rising an hour early than normal, say you normally wake up at 6 try waking up at 5 and if you are studying that will give you an extra hour study every day and if you maintain it, in no time you will have mastered the subject you are learning to become and expert. If you are studying a language, after sometime you will have become proficient in it to describe it as your second or third language depending on how many you speak. The key to be monotony is alternate activities, if you normally read on a Monday morning why not alternate and do it every other Monday morning. This spices the activities breaks monotony and eliminates bore-doom that makes us abandon our goals from time to time. Alternating the activities we do also ensures we do not fall in the trap of people who want to do things after they have achieved other things, we can loose weight while we are studying, we can learn a language along our cookery lessons, we can travel to that favourite destination before we make loads of money.

People who do not settle for less, do not live in the after scenarios, they live in the now world they do the best they can today such that when they accomplish their goals they do have anything else left to achieve. You will hear of people who do not settle for less, you have obtained that Masters Degree they have always wanted, at the same time they have also taken those guitar lesson that they have always wanted, while raising their families. Its no secret it all lies in good time management, follow the step above and you will find yourself rich because indeed time is money.

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