Having Enough Time
by C.S. Clarke, Ph.D.
Much has been written about the value of planning, keeping schedules, being organized, doing things in the right order and maintaining records in managing your time. I've certainly gone on about them extensively. Because they're vital tools in the process.
Few writers talk specifically about the connections between time management and energy, motivation and suitability of tasks. Yet those are as vital as organization and the other "mechanics" of time management. And the only software you can use for them is what you program into your own brain. Here's a brief look at the roles of those three factors:
Physical, emotional and intellectual energy are all necessary to getting things done.
•If you don't get enough sleep, you find it harder to concentrate (no matter how much coffee you drink), so you have to do things more slowly or make mistakes.
•If you've been up studying for a test all night, not only is your physical energy zapped, but also your mind is tired of all the information you've been trying to stuff into it. Chances are that you'll find it harder to be on time for the test, to complete the test in the time alloted and to remember the answers quickly.
•If you are worried about your sick kid, you may forget an appointment, leave critical information out of a memo or suddenly feel so overwhelmed by your usual daily tasks that you lose your temper with your secretary.
If you really don't want to do it, you'll procrastinate and/or sabotage. No matter how organized you are, no matter how many times you put it in your appointment book or on your calendar or on your to-do list, your feelings will overwhelm your best intentions. It won't get done or it will get done badly. You have to have some kind of motivation that will overcome your emotional resistance.
3. Suitability of tasks
How many times have you heard the phrase "the right person for the job?" Being unsuitable for a task is a bit different from simply dealing with undesirable tasks. It simply steals your time by redirecting you away from tasks for which you have the best energy and motivation, and which you could do with ease and get done quickly and efficiently.
For example, solo entrepreneurs are confronted daily with many excellent suggestions for marketing. What's hot right now is "social marketing." For great numbers of marketers, it works very well. But you have to ask yourself if tasks like developing a theme and seeking "followers" on Twitter or "friends" on Facebook fit your own personality. Are you, in fact socially oriented? Do you mind wading through a lot of brainless chatter to find some solid leads or gems of wisdom? (And be honest, as a business person, are you really interested in whether some teenager had broccoli at lunch and thinks it's icky?) Are your prospects likely to be there? Does it fit your style, your interests, your product, your service? Do you know how to do it or is there an acceptable learning curve? If it is a good outlet for you, should you have someone else do it for you?
You can't do well in work for which you have insufficient know-how, poor preparation, little affinity or doesn't fulfill your needs. The lack also ruins both your energy and motivation, making the "unsuitability" factor a real triple header.
When you are trying to use the "mechanics" of time management, remember there are other equally important factors and take them into consideration in your plans and actions. If you're not ready for a job in terms of energy, motivation or suitability, it doesn't belong on your to-do list.
C.S. Clarke, Ph.D. is a psychologist and performance coach who originated the Superperformance® concept in human performance improvement and publishes the sites Superformance.com® (Human Performance and Achievement Resources) and EverydayDelight.com.™ Superperformance is a trademark.