The time, for “time management” is over. Time management pre-supposes that we can control time. But time has no master. Time is the master. It will tire you, it will age you, it will at times feel endless but at the end you won’t want anything more than more time. We don’t manage it, it manages us. So best to learn how to let it manage you more effectively.

As I occasionally like to tell myself in the mirror of a morning, “you have the same number of hours in a day as Beyonce”. This is your greatest productivity tool, the knowledge that you have 24 hours in a day, just like everyone else. So what can you do with this knowledge and how can you use it to get ahead? Start by considering the following:

  1. Figure out your money=time value
  2. Look your clock in the face
  3. Spend time to create time
  4. Remember that machines don’t get wrinkles
  5. There’s no point crying over spilt minutes.

Money = Time

Put a value on your time so you can assess how you spend it, for example if you earn $120,000 per year your time is valued at approximately $60 per hour. Therefore if it takes you 2 hours to drive to the shops to do the weekly shopping, and pack it away, do it online for a delivery cost of $10 and spend that time with your family or on some “you” time.

Look your clock in the face

We drastically underestimate how long it takes to do anything, it is one of our perfectly imperfect human flaws. So bet against yourself by diarising more time than everything needs, and hedge your bet by overestimating it to other parties. For example, if you intend to spend 30 minutes with someone or doing something set 45 (more if travel time) When you meet with your appointment let them know that you have 30 minutes and what the purpose of the meeting is about and it will help them and you keep to time.

Keep a separate calendar for optional events. Yes, the webinar, the exhibition opening and the work drinks that are all at 7pm on Friday are optional. You are not as busy as you think you are.

We also underestimate how external and internal forces impact on our perceived efficiency. Not all hours are equal; the world of time is an unfair one. Half an hour spent drafting at 5am may be worth 2 hours at 2am. This is different for each person based on their natural preference, lifestyle and commitments.

Unlike the Wall Street Journal article, I in fact do not agree that 4am is the most productive hour. At least, not for me. Perhaps if you have a wife who can stay home with the kids while you’re getting ahead of your emails at the gym, and who is just such a “night owl” she loves staying up late doing the chores whilst your in bed with your moisture mask, but for those of us in reality who are single-parents or care-givers, volunteers, amateur astrologists or rowers, then our most productive hour is decided for us on the criteria that we are not other-wise committed and not yet asleep. Find what time this is for you and make it your “spend time to create time”, time.

Time in its aging course teaches all things. Aeschylus

Spend time to create time

Each week schedule a time with yourself (I take an hour), to update your diary.

I have three diaries one for my youngest daughter so she knows what is going on and who is picking her up, one for the au-pair so she knows what is going on, and my own online and paper diary. Make your own personal appointments first and pop them in your diary. (If you can make an appointment with your significant others, you may even want a shared family diary)
Then schedule your time control appointments that may include some items like this.
(daily) exercise; check paper, emails, social media; ready everyone for school/work
;phone calls on way to work 1-2 per day
(weekly)) Catch up lunch social; Leave work early and pick up child from school go to library for hour; walk at lunch time with colleague; set work diary notes for following work week; delete or clear email folders; check all folders and diary for following week
When you are putting your work appointments in as they come, you won’t put them over your personal appointments.

At the end of the week look in your sent items and look in your calendar and see where you have spent the time let the learning’s of the past week help you reassess your time for the next week and consider the following.

With the appointments you have can someone else do them or accompany you to them.

When you are kept waiting by someone use the time wisely preparing for your next meeting or reading what you have saved to read.

The day is of infinite length for him who knows how to use it.Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Machine’s don’t get wrinkles. Automate everything.

Two decades ago when I was a restaurant manager and there was no automated anything I had exactly the same amount of hours in the day as I do today, then I spent twenty years with various personal assistant (gosh I loved them all) today with family commitments and operating multiple contracts with no PA, time control is very important to me.

It is quite possible that you receive important messages via messenger, via linked in on email (some people have personal and work) and via text. Make sure they automatically go through to the same device automatically, and you don’t have to click into apps to see when someone is contacting you. I had a lead for a particular hotel who I didn’t know very well, I sent it to the GM via linked in after checking his profile which assured me he was on top of customer service. I never heard back neither did the client; I think perhaps he didn’t check his linked in messages. I heard an amazing story at Fathers Day lunch today of an aged friend of the folks who sent two letters to two organisations that he was interested philanthropically in being involved with, only one got back to him. Checking and responding to correspondence is a pretty important way of spending time.

Use Siri and set appointments and reminders for yourself and schedule them, This way you have a personal assistant that will keep you on track. Siri if set up correctly can add appointments to your diary, call people and send emails whilst you are walking along, saves you looking at the screen all the time and you can be reminded when on the run.

Some of the questions I ask Siri are:

  • What have I got on next
  • How long will it take me to walk from here to ____
  • Get me directions from here to ____
  • Send an email
  • Send a message
  • Send a text message
  • Remind me of my next appointments
  • Tell me my reminders
  • Make a shopping list

Find balance. I saw an advertisement the other day for a ‘writer’s laptop without the distraction of social media so you can focus on your writing’. So…it’s a typewriter? How funny I thought. We are getting to the critical point where out productivity and orgnisational gadgets are beginning to hinder rather than help us.

Make use of time, let not advantage slip.William Shakespeare

No use crying over spilt minutes

There is little point in attempting to manage time. You can try to catch falling sand all you wish but, I assure you, it will continue to hit the bottom of the hourglass and you will continue to be disappointed.

So instead, follow these simple steps and, occasionally, embrace the oxy-moron “doing nothing”. As I saw at my Vet the other day “better to be doing nothing than to be busy doing nothing”. My dogs get this, they lie in the spring grass, and I decide to leave my emails for a night, grab a hot-chocolate and open Netflix.

I still haven’t mastered it, and often I don’t have enough time for those that I should have, and perhaps I don’t always do things as thoroughly as I should (particularly cleaning) But I certainly can fit more in the day than I could 20 years ago.

Always be open to learning, I read a friend’s article the other day, he was spouting the benefits of saying no, being from a hospitality background we find this hard, I think my mantra has been that I don’t say no, I simply offer an alternative time commitment, that suits me better.

The key take away is to give yourself the best opportunity to make the most of your time and to fit the most into your days. This means not only the urgent, but the important and the personal. Because at the end of the day, if you let time push you around. If you’re always chasing it, losing it, running for it, then it’s going to manage you right out the door.

PS and if it drives you to distraction, that your team appear to waste a little of this valuable resource, call in the time-busters, sometimes it takes an outside point of view to steer them in the direction you are navigating.