On The Clock

Every day people seem to run out of time. You've heard all of the cliches: "Time flies," "Where did the time go?" and "There just aren't enough hours in the day." The fact is that we all have the same 24 hours in a day. The only difference is what we choose to do with our time.

Most people tend to focus on time management as a way to more effectively use their time. However, they are focusing on managing the wrong thing. The focus needs to be on managing yourself and what you choose to do at any particular moment.

The fact is that you don't manage time. Rather, you control and manage events and the choices you make on how to use your time. How you use your time is your own personal decision. It's all about prioritizing. Use the following steps to make yourself aware of the choices you make every day with your time so you can make the most of it.

1. Chart Your Time

Because you need to manage what you do and not time itself, you need to create a schedule. Detail what you want to do during a day. What are the important things you must do. What things would you like to do. However, don't create your schedule as your day progresses. Rather, do it the night before or in the early morning before you start your day. If you don't choose to create a detailed schedule of your day, other non-planned events will end up stealing your precious time.

The benefit of creating a very detailed schedule of your day and tracking what you do is that you can go back and look at it at the end of the day and see where you invested your time. While most people realize the importance of scheduling and creating to-do lists, they fail to realize that scheduling is a two-step process. Once you've finished your day, you must go back over your schedule to see how you did with your planned tasks. Did you spend the amount of time you allotted for the tasks. Did you spend some of the time you allotted for one activity on something completely different. You might be surprised when you examine your schedule at the end of the day to discover how much time you actually wasted.

Salespeople would find this strategy especially beneficial because if they schedule and track their days, they can examine them to determine how much time they spend prospecting, as well as the number of people they actually talk to in the selling process. Of course, if you want to reap the benefits of charting your time and examining how you invested your time to be effective, you have to be honest. Sometimes this might mean having someone else keep you accountable. Try recording your daily activities onto a time sheet and sharing it with your supervisor.

2. Learn To Say "No"

Realize that it is impossible to be all things to all people. You simply cannot please everyone. If you try to please everyone, you will drive yourself crazy because it simply can't be done. You need to maintain a balance in your life, so don't overextend yourself by taking on so many projects and tasks that you won't be able to properly manage them in your schedule. To do so, you must learn to say "no."

Realize that your time is just as precious as everyone else's. If you don't decide what to do during your day, other people will fill your schedule for you with their agendas. If you don't say "no," Parkinson's Law can take effect: "Work expands to fill the time available for its completion."

If you have trouble saying "no," try this: Go outside to a deserted area. When you're sure nobody is around, yell as loud as you can, "No!" Then assess how you feel. Saying "no" didn't hurt, did it? Of course not. This little exercise will give you practice and confidence. You'll learn that saying "no" can also be empowering, because you are standing up for yourself and not letting someone else force you into doing something.

Plus, wouldn't you rather have someone say "no" than lie to you. For example, you don't want someone to say they'll meet you or take on a project for you and not really mean it. They should have just said "No, that won't be possible." It can work out the best in the end for everyone.

3. Prioritize

Once you have your detailed schedule of your day and you've said "no" to anything extra you could not realistically manage in your schedule, you can prioritize your activities. The more detailed and specific your schedule is, the more you will have to prioritize what you need to do during the day.

Rank each item in order of importance and then follow that. Don't put something off that you ranked as very important just because it may involve dealing with a difficult person or be very time-consuming. If you do, you will just continue to put it off, and it will never get done. In addition, consider all the time you're wasting thinking about this dreaded task. By the time you've thought it through, you could have already completed it.


We all have the same amount of time to work with each day. Time is a matter of choice. When you realize that you need to manage yourself and what you do, and that "time management" is somewhat of a myth, you will get more things done.

As Benjamin Franklin said, "Time is the stuff that life is made of." Since your time is so valuable, you need to take these steps to manage what you do with your time. Also, now that you know the myths of time management, the next time someone tells you they "don't have time," you'll know it's not true. They do have the time; they simply choose to invest it in a way that doesn't fit you or what you want them to include into their schedule. Time management comes down to personal decisions and choices. Decide how you will invest your time and manage your days. Your success depends on it.

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