If only you can manage your time better…
You’d complete all your tasks, do more in life, allot time to everyone who needs it and achieve all your dreams.
You try every new time management ‘hacks’. But things quickly revert to the way they were. You spend more time on your smartphone than you would like, wondering what you must do to manage your time better. But it doesn’t work.
Because ‘managing your time’ is a flawed assumption.
You can manage your thoughts because they belong to you. You can manage your life because it’s an outcome of your actions. You can manage your beliefs, behavior, and money. They’re yours.
But how can you manage ‘your’ time?
Time is eternal. It’s relative yet constant. It’s the same for everyone, regardless of gender, social status, money, and everything else. It belongs to no one.
How can you manage an entity like that?
Another reason why trying to manage time is flawed is because it means you try to do more within the available time. Doing more doesn’t matter. Doing what’s important, does.
Here’s how you can make better use of the time available to you.
1. Manage Tasks
Don’t manage time. Manage tasks instead.
Each night, list the tasks you want to accomplish the next day. Choose tasks that align with your long-term goals. How long is the long-term? It’s alright to not pursue audacious 5-year goals.
Set 6-month goals and take action every day to get closer to them. Avoid anything which will make you stray from what’s important. This includes people.
2. Say ‘No’
“All those who call you to themselves draw you away from yourself.” — Seneca
If you don’t learn to say ‘no’ to everything which doesn’t make you go “Hell Yes!” you’ll remain at the mercy of others forever. And you’ll never get to do what you want to.
You might argue that saying ‘no’ is selfish. And in a tiny, remote part of the universe, you might be right. But this act of selfishness is one that pays off handsomely.
3. Deep Work
According to author Cal Newport, deep work is high-quality work that gets you closer to your goals (point #1).
The deeper your work, the better you use the available time.
Spend four to six hours each day (not more) doing deep work and watch your productivity and output skyrocket. But don’t forget the next point.
4. Batch Your Work
Human beings love multitasking, but we suck at it. Answering emails, refreshing notifications, toggling through multiple windows… each of these adversely impacts the time you spend and your intensity of focus.
Guess what happens to your work?
Batching takes the “multi” out of multitasking. It means you work on one kind of task at a time. If the task is part of your deep work, spend more time with it. If it’s not — like answering emails and returning phone calls — allot a specific time for them.
James Clear keeps his phone in another room while doing deep work. Ryan Holiday groups his phone calls together in large blocks and goes for long walks.
Batch similar five-minute tasks together, and allot 30 minutes at the end of your deep-work day to finish them.
5. Halve Your Deadlines
Shorten your deadlines so you stop squandering time.
But don’t just shorten it. Halve it. You won’t achieve your outcome in half the time. But you’ll go beyond ‘working harder’ and start working smart.
After you complete the task, examine what worked and what didn’t. Cut out the fat. Rinse. Repeat. You’ll discover the optimal time it takes to complete your task. It’ll be about 40% lesser than what you currently take.
Think about how much you can do with 40% more time!
6. Take Time Off
‘Hustling’ 24/7 makes you complacent. You succumb to the illusion that you always have time. Not to mention it’s exhausting.
Take time off to refresh yourself. This also creates a restriction for the amount of time you use to complete tasks.
Do all you can to make yourself better. To achieve this, you need time, which never did, and never will belong to you.
Make the most of the present moment — that’s all you will get.