Peter Bregman's article, "The Biggest Myth in Time Management" on the Harvard Business Review Blog, offers hope for all of us dealing with too much to do and too little time. He makes it clear that all of us face time management issues.
In the article, Bregman tells a story about Brad (not his real name...),
Brad is as hard a worker as anyone I know. He's not just busy, he's keenly focused on getting the right things done. And it pays off — he is the largest single revenue generator at his well-known professional services firm.
In the story Brad took a brief family vacation but the demands on him didn't stop. Emails kept coming and issues developed. He chose a time management approach that allowed him to spend time with his family.
As we all know, even when we get away there are ongoing demands on our time that could rob us of rest, fun and needed time away. Brad chose not to cave into the crisis and demands on his time.
We all are limited resources
"The idea that we can get it all done is the biggest myth in time management."
The article makes the point that we are all limited resources. We need to make choices about our time. Bregman writes, "Instead of letting things haphazardly fall through the cracks, we can intentionally push the unimportant things aside and focus our energy on the things that matter most." This reminded me of Professor Bev Wiens when I was at San Jose Christian College (now William Jessup University). She used to tell us that to manage life we needed to practice selective neglect. Wise words!
So how do we do this?
According to Bregman it requires knowing the "right things" to do and "doing them." He provides the following time management process:
- Think about the time management problems you face. (Take Bregman's three-minute quiz to discover where you are distracting yourself the most.)
- Once you've identified your biggest time management challenges, choose a single one to tackle.
- If that tactic works, repeat the process with another challenge. If it doesn't, try a new tactic. Continue to approach things this way, one at a time, so you can be sure what works for you and what doesn't.
Your MBTI and your time-management style
I like Bregman's suggestion of tackling one time management challenge with a specific approach. If it works, repeat it. If not, try something else! Good advice.
So often we try to embrace a solution that others say is best. It seems to me if you are wired in an organized, systematic and planned way (MBTI: J - Judging), some of the time management tools will work great. However, if you are more spontaneous, unplanned and late starting (MBTI: P - Perceiving), you will need a different approach. For both J and P preferences, trying to apply time management tools that are opposed to your style will not only fail but also drain you.
The key is to find the approach that works for you! There will never be enough time to do it all. Therefore, it's best to be realistic about your time demands AND about who you are.
Know your wiring. It will help in your time management.
Do you have time management tips? Please share your MBTI preference (J or P) and what works for you!