How many times in a day do you say, “I just don’t have the time”?

Most of us claim that we never have enough time in the day to get everything done that we want and need to. We feel as though we’re robbing Peter to pay Paul to get things done in time, sometimes even sacrificing our health as we do. It just doesn’t have to be that way, though.

Reframe Time Management for Productivity

How to effectively manage your time to increase productivity begins with changing how you think about time. A recent article on Medium, titled, “Why You Really Don’t Have a Time Management Problem”, has completely reframed how I think about time management.

The author of the article, Charlie Gilkey, first drives it home that time is what it is. We don’t make time or do things with time – we track and follow time and do things through time. Our perception of it may change, but time, itself, does not.

Manage Priorities and People

You cannot, therefore, manage time. You can manage priorities, though. Since a person or group can only accomplish so many priorities within a given slice of time, priority management is key.

Effective time management, then, is really priority management, and priority management is self-management. No matter how we slice time, we cannot add to it, optimize or maximize it, speed it up, or slow it down. We can reorganize our priorities, though, streamline processes, and discipline ourselves better.

People need to manage their priorities, processes, themselves, and their teams, rather than attempt to manage time. Time cannot be managed. Only people and processes can be. Effective leaders must focus more on priority management instead of time management.

Stumbling Blocks to Productivity

Many things affect how we prioritize our activities and maximize our productivity for the day. Notice, I didn’t say “prioritize our day” or “maximize our time”, as units of time cannot be managed – only priorities. Remember, time management is priority management, and solid priority management means good productivity. Key factors that can contribute to lack of priority management include:

• Not doing the right thing 

• Not triaging or performing work in order of importance 

• Checking notifications and emails 

• Attempting to accomplish too much at once  

So, the next time you find yourself complaining that you don’t have enough time, or that your team needs to focus on time management, examine how you’re managing priorities.

Rather than wasting time seeking how to effectively manage your time to increase productivity, take a long, hard look at your priorities and self-discipline. Once you can manage those, your days will feel much less hectic, and you’ll find yourself accomplishing more than if you focus on managing time.

That makes all of your time – for work and for play – more of a good time.