It takes time to manage time

Time Investments are those activities that eventually free up more time than they initially consume. For example, many people fail to plan because planning takes time. There would be no visible tangible task completed as testimony to this wise use of time; just a plan (hopefully on paper) as a result of their efforts. There are always tasks, some important and some not, crying for their attention. As a result, many people delay or abandon the planning activity in favour of those daily tasks. This lack of planning causes them to lose more time on rush jobs, crises, and the tyranny of the urgent than the planning would have taken. Planning is a time investment.

Similarly delegation, communication, exercise, technology, goal setting, forming habits, self-development, procedures and networking are all examples of time investments. If you had time to work on them they would free up more time in turn.

Unfortunately, like money investments, the payoff usually takes time. And time is at a premium. Although delegation will free up huge chunks of time in the future, the time spent training others takes place in the present. Since most people already have a full day, where do they get the hour or more needed each week in order to do the training?

The same question could be asked of any of the time investments mentioned. That new digital handheld device may save time, but we need time to learn how to use it properly. Similarly we know that regular exercise will keep us more energetic, healthier, more mentally alert and more productive, but where do we get the half-hour or more each day to make it happen? It takes time to set goals, form time saving habits, develop procedures and communicate properly. Where does that time come from?

It takes time to properly manage time.

That’s where many of the time management tips can come into play. Not the ones I call behavioral ideas, which require that habits be formed before they will work, but those mechanical ideas that will free up time immediately. For example, arranging action files vertically in step file within easy reach instead of piling them horizontally on your desk eliminates a lot of searching and shuffling. Upgrading your digital devices and equipment, backing up your files in the cloud, using voice-activated software and text-replacement software, all save time – which in turn can be used on time investment activities such as training and others mentioned above.

An idea may only save you one minute a day; but multiply that minute by sixty similar ideas and you have an hour. Imagine being able to free up five hours each week! That represents time for training or sleeping or exercise – or any other time investment.

You only need time for one time investment to start the ball rolling – since that one activity will generate the time for others. If you start with delegation, for instance, you will soon free up the time that the delegated task has been taking. Then you would spend some of that time on planning, which would free up more time to invest in exercise and so on. You are re-investing the profits, so to speak, and continually increasing the amount of time at your disposal.

This process takes time, so don’t be impatient. You will gradually become more organized, more productive and more relaxed. Then when you start investing time in behavioral ideas, such as making notes while on the telephone, checking email less frequently scheduling tasks in your planner, saying no more often and reducing procrastination, your productivity will soar.

It takes time to manage time. And time, like money, cannot be manufactured. It must be earned. But by investing wisely in the present, you will reap timely rewards in the future.

In my next article I will more fully explain the difference between “mechanical ideas” and “behavioral ideas” and how to put them into practice.