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The Myth Of Time Management
Productivity and Time Management Ask any successful business or individual out there, and I’m sure they will tell you higher levels of productivity are a crucial aspect in ensuring revenue growth and achieving success. In fact, many individuals and corporations willingly invest large sums of money and effort in order to improve in this area. Higher levels of productivity in individuals (whether as part of an organization or alone) helps to bring them closer to their success targets within a shorter time period, and prevents needless wastage of time, money and effort.
The dictionary defines productivity as “the quality, state, or fact of being able to generate, create, enhance, or bring forth goods and services”. To explain it simply on a more individual level - it is just how much one can get done in a set period of time. And when productivity is mentioned, time management is usually also brought up ; they go hand in hand. Both are strongly correlated - higher levels of productivity is usually the result of better time management. All That You Know About Time Management Is Wrong Yup, you got that right. Your understanding of time management is very likely… wrong. Time management is in fact, a misnomer. Time cannot be managed or influenced; it is something that is pretty much out of our control. All of us, despite our social or financial background, are allocated 24 hours in a day, no more or less. Once gone, there’s no way we can get it back. Our day-to-day responsibilities - be it family or work, takes up a large portion of our time. Not only that, time is fleeting and so easily robbed from our hands. Unexpected things pop up all the time. Priorities change. Things go terribly wrong. You get sick, or tired. You can only do so much - you’re only human, after all. You can, however control YOU. And your CHOICES. Time management is more correctly, all about self-discipline and task management. It’s the management of expectations as well as interruptions. It is the ability to manage your actions, habits and priorities based on the time you are given. It is understanding what matters most, making a choice to make room for that in your life, and getting rid of the unnecessary, unimportant stuff that’s hogging up your valuable time. Also, time management is not a one system fits all method. There is no perfect method. Different individuals have different styles - we’re all wired differently in terms of personality type, identity and individual life circumstances. Some may find that a to-do list works for them; others may find to-do lists hard to follow and demotivating. It’s all about finding your groove - different strokes for different folks.
Multitasking because you want to manage time better? Bad idea. Contrary to popular belief, faster and more is NOT always better. Multitasking is one way to destroy your productivity levels. Sure… you seem to get more done this way. However, you are probably more likely to make mistakes - which will result in you doing over things. Stick to focusing on one task at a time, and taking sufficient breaks whenever possible - you’ll stand to accomplish more this way. Now, we’ve mentioned that juggling multiple tasks at one time is counterproductive. However, striving to complete each task no matter how long it takes is also not a wise idea when it comes to time management - another common misconception regarding time management. Restrict your time spent on a task, and schedule accordingly.
As you can see, a lot of what we know regarding time management are in fact, myths. Many of us have skewed perceptions or are misinformed when it comes to time management. These myths, over time, through the people around us or the media we consume, become deeply ingrained within our mindsets; we eventually regard them as facts and hold on to them. As a result, we are prevented from becoming truly and fully productive in any aspect of our lives.
Chapter 1 : Effectiveness Vs. Efficiency Effectiveness versus efficiency. Both terms are adjectives that begin with the letter ‘e’, and are used to describe how work is done. Not only that, they sound quite similar. It is relatively easy to mistake one for the other, or use them interchangeably (a lot of people do!). However, these terms are anything but similar - in fact, they each carry completely different meanings. Effectiveness is all about doing the right things; it is result oriented. It is when one’s objectives are in line with their main goals, and indirectly your purpose.
It is finding ways to improve outcomes. For example, if your goal is to increase awareness and sales of a particular product to reach a particular target, you should engage in tasks or activities that will help move you closer to your goals (eg. marketing and ads, in this scenario) , and not waste time on irrelevant tasks that do not serve your goals. This makes you effective. Efficiency, however, is more about doing things right; this aspect is task oriented. It is using better ways to get something done well in the shortest amount of time possible, while utilizing the least amount of resources and/or costs. An example of efficiency would be using a computerized system to get things done accurately in a shorter span of time; as opposed to relying on manual methods to do the same thing, which is susceptible to human error and is more time consuming. Either one can exist without the other; one can be effective but not efficient, and vice versa. It is entirely possible for one to be effective in achieving their goals, while being inefficient in the way they do it. It is also entirely possible to be none of both at all. In fact, there are four possibilities: 1. Effective and Efficient 2. Effective and Inefficient 3. Ineffective and Efficient 4. Ineffective and Inefficient
It should be noted however that true, optimal productivity is a combination of both efficiency and effectiveness (Number 1) - the Holy Grail for every individual or organization. It is not possible for an organization or person to reach peak productivity levels, if they are lacking in either efficiency or effectiveness (Number 2, 3 and 4). If anything, they’re setting themselves up for either mediocrity or inevitable failure.
Effectiveness > Efficiency In terms of order of importance, effectiveness should be prioritized over efficiency in all your considerations about productivity.
This however does not mean that you should disregard the importance of efficiency altogether - again, as mentioned earlier, productivity is a balanced combination of both. Effectiveness involves the big picture. Putting effectiveness first just means that you should first and foremost focus on doing the right things in order to improve your chances of getting a good outcome. Once you get yourself on track and laid out the basics, you can then look into how you can improve the way you do things. The logic here is to concentrate on being efficient at the tasks which are significant and are effective in contributing to your goals. There’s no point in particularly efficient when the tasks you carry out do not contribute to your purpose and goals. To sum things up : efficiency is a modifier for effectiveness, not a substitute. Efficiency is meaningless on its own. The problem with most people is that they tend to gravitate towards efficiency, rather than effectiveness. It is perfectly understandable - being efficient is a whole lot easier than being effective. Being efficient involves improvements on a smaller, more manageable scale; effectiveness however requires a whole lot of brainstorming about one’s goals, values and different approaches, on a larger scale. And that is intimidating. Not only that, people who put efficiency before effectiveness have this tendency of looking for better and perfect ways of doing things, and head nowhere instead - which ironically, leads to ineffectiveness.
Increasing Effectiveness So how does one increase their effectiveness? Put some time aside to evaluate these few things : ? Clarify the What- focusing on the results you want to achieve and defining the picture of success. ? Clarify and pursue key strategies that will give you the highest possibility for success. Now that you’ve established your plan of action, you can focus on how to increase your efficiency. This would mean concentrating on the How’s - implementation of your strategies in the most efficient way possible, and improving how you do things as you go along.
In the coming chapters, we will look into further detail on this, as well as many other helpful tips that will skyrocket your productivity to optimum levels.
Chapter 2 : Results - Fast Lane To Success To embark on a major journey, you should first have a real idea of your destination. This way, you’ll be able to plan adequately for your journey - directions, mode of transport, estimated costs, time, etc. Skip that, and you’d end up wandering aimlessly. Or find yourself lost somewhere in middle of Timbuktu. Sure, you’re on a journey alright...but where? Similarly, when it comes to planning for your success, you will need a “destination” and a “roadmap”. That would be a clear vision of what you want, and specific goals to help you on your way to achieve your idea of success.