This week on the SUCCESS Line, I talked to a graduate of the SUCCESS coaching certification. Dustin is a single father, real-estate broker, coach and entrepreneur—so, yes, he is just a little busy.
He came on the show to talk about a perpetually hot topic for entrepreneurs: time management.
But there is a sneaky truth: time management is a myth. If you’re tired of doing more every day but never feeling like you did enough, I have some solutions. But we first have to take responsibility. We cannot manage time; we can only manage ourselves.
Time management is a myth.
Time is one of the only commodities we cannot make more of. It is a resource, one we choose, every single day, how to use.
We often say, “I don’t have time for that today.” But the reality is, “I choose not to give time to that item.” We have to reframe our thinking. How we spend our time is an investment, and just like our investment portfolios with the bank, it is up to us to decide where we put our money.
Instead of bemoaning that there are never enough hours in the day, look inward at how you are using the hours you do have. Ask yourself, who do I need to become in order to use time in a way that will get the results I desire? What habits do I need to instill, change or modify in order to accomplish my goals? It is self-management, not time-management, that truly maximizes our time.
Do more of the right things.
One of the biggest lies told to entrepreneurs is that if they just spend more time working they will succeed. However, this mindset is a fast-track to burnout.
Doing more of everything is not the answer. It is about doing more of the right things.
Look at your calendar and surgically dissect the difference between what you could do and the three to four things you must do—the three to four activities that put you on the path to where you want to go. Saying yes to a few great things means saying no to a lot of good things. What do you want to be able to say yes to? And which activities are taking away your ability to do so?
One way to find out is to time-block and color-code your calendar. Every event that makes me money or moves my career forward is marked green. Anything administrative is blue. My personal life is red, and all of my coaching clients are yellow. At the end of my week, I can look back and identify at a glance where I spent the majority of my time. If I notice that most of my time was spent in admin, I can course-correct for the coming week by finding leverage and giving those tasks to someone else. Where are you spending your time and how do you need to adjust?
We are all bound by the same 24 hours in the day. In order to make the most of them, the goal is not to fill every waking moment with work, but rather to be more purposeful and intentional with the time we do spend.
Set up a winnable game.
Most of us underestimate what we can do in a year but overestimate what we can do in an hour. We all want to be able to say “I can get it done tomorrow”—but we have to be realistic about what is possible and set up timelines that allow us to follow through.
If we constantly give ourselves impossible deadlines, we will feel perpetually behind and frustrated. Instead, we need to set up a winnable game. Give yourself a long enough runway to gain the speed required to take off. As a result, you will be more reliable to your colleagues and less stressed in your own life because you are not stuck in a never-ending game of catch-up — you have allocated the proper amount of time for each item and you can complete each task on schedule.