By JOHN WALTER S. BAYBAY
It’s 5:45am in Manila on a Thursday. I am writing this with a view of the sun coming down from my window. The sky has turned orange; the music has now turned down-tempo as I end this day with a sigh…
If you’re still in the office with a pile of things to do and trying to decide whether you should go for a last sprint on the task or leave it for tomorrow, then chances are you have a “Time-Management” problem!
The tyranny of the busy world and all its bosses has taught you just that, but perhaps they were wrong. The world tends to over glorify busyness, but busyness is severely overrated!
Output is the ultimate measure of productivity while busyness doesn’t even come close as a measure. If anything, busyness could be symptom of an ineffective existence.
The fact is that it is simply impossible to manage time as time just happens by itself and you simply have no control as to how fast it goes. It waits for no one! Time management experts try to milk the whole issue by giving you what really are task management techniques.
If you’re lucky enough, you would’ve picked-up some skills based on real task-management principles adapted from project management and work-planning practices.
The hard side of time-management seems to be a lot better at giving you some adapting measures rather than the fluff that many work-life balance advocates would give you.
How could you balance something that you don’t even have any control over? When you’re at this point, you don’t need proverbial anecdotes, what you need is a strategy!
Can you change the demands of your boss? Can you really reduce the amount of work that has you going till the weekend? Do you have control over your deadlines and how they are set?
The only thing you could do is to get some work done as effectively and as fast as you can. The question is not whether you have the time but rather whether you actually have the energy!
I read an interesting article the other week from a website called Addicted 2 Success, where they say that “Our Commodity for Success is No Longer Time, It’s Energy”. The new paradigm makes perfect sense.
The good news is that while time is forever fixed, energy is elastic and renewable. The more energy you have, the more effective you are in getting the job done in less time. The new proverb for this new paradigm is that: “You’re only as strong and as effective as how well you recover”.
Sports and medical science has proven that it is during the time of rest that you actually get stronger. Your body adapts to the added load. That’s why physical training is mostly based on the principle of “progressive overload”.
You shouldn’t avoid stress but you could train yourself to handle it. The important part is setting some time to recover. This gives a whole new meaning to the phrase: “Sleeping on the Job”. In this case, stealing a short nap could be seen as purposeful. Just as anything that runs on batteries need to charge, so do we.
Energy management also keeps us mindful about of our peaks of effectiveness that go hand in hand with energy levels. If you’re out of energy you simply can’t go on with a task without a struggle. It gets so bad it’s as if you’ve run into a brick wall.
Having the energy and applying it in short effective sprints on your tasks gets more things done in a shorter amount of time than forcing yourself on a singular task dragged on for hours.
Organise your tasks in time-segments and make some room for “active recovery” in between. Active recovery could be as simple as getting some coffee or walking around after a task but also using the time to set yourself up for the next activity. These are three to five minute breaks. A 15-minute nap unlocks more than a couple of hours of energy for overtime.
Treat your tasks as appointments that deserve your absolute attention. Place task assignments as if they were appointments and your calendar. Set time bound parameters and check your progress.
You can’t manage time, but you can manage energy and tasks! Focus on the latter two, and you’ll find yourself being more effective and productive. Treat your life goals like they were projects with defined beginnings and terminations and transitions.