Time management is an investment in results, where time is your capital that is strategically invested in activities with the most potential for return. Managing time is about generating results, but real results are not achieved using the traditional approach (rigid schedules, lists, and hyper-organized work environments). Those who effectively manage their time use what they want to achieve as a guidepost for determining which activities to invest in and whether or how to make changes in direction. They don’t spend their time – they invest it instead. They also reserve a portion of their time for investment in energizing activities, like time for reflection, that help them to achieve goals and maintain their focus.
The standard approach to time management is to increase efficiency and get more done in less time. However, efficiency does not always equate with effectiveness, and even if it does, there are few ways left for most of us to gain efficiency. By approaching time management as an investment in being effective rather than being efficient, one can be more assured of generating business results as opposed to getting a lot of things done in a crunch. From this perspective, maximizing time investment requires identifying critical goals and objectives, and maintaining focus on those activities that achieve them.
How to Invest
Being purposeful about investing time requires focus and energy. The first step in getting focused is to develop an accurate picture of how you currently invest your time.
There are three things to understand when determining your focus(es):
- Your critical business and individual goals
- What activities you currently invest your time in
- How well those activities pay off in terms of your goals and objectives
On the other hand, energy has to do with the internal fuel that drives the ability to not only focus but to get work done. People who are highly effective at investing their time employ practices that help them to create and sustain high levels of energy over the long run.
Effective time managers are able to clearly articulate their business as well as personal goals and objectives and, as a result, are able to direct their time and attention to the critical few activities that will generate results. Moreover, when faced with a competing activity or task, they are able to use their goals and objectives to make decisions about whether and how to change direction. This is then linked to creating and reserving energy and reducing stress by devoting time to specific “energizing” activities.
However, none of this happens in a vacuum – and individual effectiveness is enhanced when the people whose work one depends on are more purposeful, and when one collaborates with managers and key stakeholders.