Time management versus time alignment
Imagine there is a bank which credits your account each morning with 86.400 euro, carries over no balance from day to day, allows you to keep no cash balance, and every evening cancels whatever part of the amount you had failed to use during the day. What would you do? Spend every euro, of course!
Well, everyone has such a bank. Its name is Time. Every morning, it credits you with 86.400 seconds. Every night it writes off, as lost, whatever of this you have failed to invest to good purpose. It carries over no balance. It allows no overdraft. Each day it opens a new account for you. Each night it burns the records of the day. If you fail to use the day's deposits, the loss is yours. There is no going back. How you deal with your time is decided by you alone and nobody else. It is never the case of you not having enough time to do things, but the case of whether we want to do it.
Highly successful people don’t think much about time at all. Instead, they think about values, priorities, and consistent habits. The single most important thing when it comes to time and productivity isn’t a tactic or a trick. It’s a shift in mindset. But it’s not called “time management”. You can’t manage time, actually. There are only 24h in a day and we are in practice constantly fighting that Time Law. It’s all about ‘time alignment’: you can manage choices. When you are clear on your choices and on the priorities and steps to achieve those choices, then you become highly productive and satisfied with how you spend your time.
If you aren’t busy working on your own goals, you’ll be working to achieve somebody else’s goals.
Let me finish by adding this: time is unique because it’s the one true equalizer. You would never give your creditcard and password to a bunch of strangers. And yet we typically think little about our time. We routinely let people steal our time, even though it’s our most valuable possession. Remember: if you aren’t busy working on your own goals, you’ll be working to achieve somebody else’s goals. So instead of focussing on time management, try to work more on ‘time alignment’: is that specific time investment part of my mission and is it in line with my priorities? If not, quit and invest your time in something else.
And just one more thing: if one day you feel everwhelmed by all the different tasks you have/want to do, then ask yourself this simple question: what is the one thing that I can do now so that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?
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