I always remember going to interviews for jobs and the interviewer would inevitably ask how well I could manage time. As if time can be managed. Looking back, I wish I could tell them what I know now. I wish I could tell them that it’s impossible to manage time.
Time management is a myth. I’m going to put it on a t-shirt, because we must stop thinking that time can be managed. Tasks can be managed. Goals can be met. But time cannot be managed. Time will come and go, and you’ll never get it back. You can’t invest it and get more back.
So, what would I say instead? Because I bet you ten dollars that if I looked at an interviewer and told them I was terrible at time management, that I would walk out of there without a job. They wouldn’t understand what I’m about to tell you because they are still living in a time-bound paradigm where only hours count.
I feel like I came out of the matrix and I can see this mindset for what it really is.
If the goal of a business, ministry, or job is to get results, then time doesn’t matter.Kristi Crosson
What matters is your focus and determination in getting to the intended outcomes. I’ve been there. Social media calls my name daily and I can easily get sucked into the vortex.
When I worked outside the home it was easy to get caught up in conversation at the office. I could get lost in emails and meetings for DAYSSSS. But in those moments where I homed in on the next most important task of the day and focused all my attention and creativity (and prayer) on it, something amazing happened.
I got it done.
And instead of it taking 4 hours of distracted time. It only took 1-2 hours. Because I managed my focus instead of thinking I could manage the time. I prioritized my tasks instead of trying to get everything done.
So here are four ways you can manage your tasks to give you better focus and help you get things done:
- Put your phone away. It’s amazing what happens when you put this little device in an inconvenient place far enough out of reach that you aren’t likely to go get it just to scroll through Facebook or Instagram. This tool is the bane of my existence. I just spent an afternoon without it in my hand and let me tell you how liberating it was. First, I painted with my kids. It was wonderful. They made the most beautiful pictures in our time together and I was fully engaged with them and what I was doing. Then, I watched a movie. All the way through. With the kids. And I didn’t look at social media once. You know what? It was amazing. I felt CONNECTED. I felt connected in ways that I don’t when I mindlessly scroll through social media.
- Turn off your email notifications on your computer. When you want to work on an important part of a project, remove any and all distractions. Put up a do not disturb sign, put on some headphones or pop in some earbuds. You shouldn’t respond to emails while you’re working on something important. I like to check emails 2 times a day. First thing in the morning and after lunch sometime. The exact time depends on the day.
- Make a list of everything that you need to do to reach your next goal or finish a work project. Pick one thing off the list to complete. Make sure it’s the most important task on the list. Then work on that thing until it’s done. Check it off and move on to the next thing on the list. I love lists. They help me stay focused and they give me a sense of accomplishment when I check things off.
- Stop telling yourself you’re a failure when you don’t get everything done. Did you do the most important thing? I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, you can’t do everything, but you can do the things that matter the most. I borrowed that from my Pastor. Because it’s true. We must stop trying to do everything, and focus on doing the most important things.
And if at the end of the day, you got nothing done, it’s not because you didn’t manage your time well. It’s because you didn’t prioritize or focus on the most important things. It’s because you got distracted or overwhelmed or fearful. It’s because when you started the day you wanted to do all the things. Or it’s because you spent more time putting out the proverbial fires than you did on your list.
What’s the most important thing you need to do today? Whether at home, ministry, work, with your kids, with your husband, or to build your business? The time will pass one way or another (unless Jesus returns). And when it does, will you be able to honestly say that you did the most important thing with your time? Stop trying to manage time.