So often you hear people say, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.” You won’t find that definition in the diagnostic manual for psychologists, but there’s still a lot of truth to it.
When you do the same thing over and over hoping that something better will happen, then you are fooling yourself. For example, if you tend to oversleep in the mornings, rush out of the house, arrive at the office and spend an hour digging out the most important to-do tasks from a high paper pile, then you are doing the same ineffective things over and over.
If you think that you will magically have a better start to your day without changing any time-wasting behaviors, then you are definitely living in a fantasy.
Too often people balk at applying time management systems to their schedules, claiming it would “be too much like a straight jacket” or “take too much time to learn to use a schedule.”
The opposite is true. Time management is the way to free yourself by knowing what you have to do and what time is open for personal or social choices. You will be able to tell at a glance of your calendar whether you can accept an invitation or plan to be part of a group activity.
As for taking too much time to learn, you don’t have to have a complex system. Start with a basic day planner and follow the suggestions for organization. As you use it a while, you can refine that system. Just make certain that you are consistent in applying your system.
If you have children, then you absolutely must have a time management system to keep up with your activities and theirs. You need to know when to bring four dozen cupcakes for the class party, when it’s your turn to drive the car pool, and what the dates are for the school play practices. The older children get, the more that you need to manage the time for the family so that there is time spent together as well as time attending school and after-school activities.
When you know how much time you have available, you can choose how to fill that time. If you want to go shopping, you can decide which day to go based on the amount of time available.
To find a day when you have enough time to cook a big dinner and invite friends over, look at your day planner and you’ll know in a glance. Before long you will say, “let me check my day planner” instead of saying “yes” to an invitation only to realize later that you don’t really have time for it. This technique alone will save you from over-commitment and the frustration that goes with it.
A key reason some people rebel against using a time management system is that it wipes out excuses. You can no longer claim that you ran out of time to complete the research for that report or help out with the children’s holiday project. After all, if you don’t have a time management system, then you can continue to use the “no time” excuse. The problem is that you also don’t know how to plan time to do the things that you actually want to do.
So if you keep running through your day without a time management plan, you can expect to be frustrated, late, confused, and get far less accomplished. Starting the next day the same way will get the same result.
If you are tired of missing appointments, never having time to do the things you want to do, or feeling overwhelmed, then you need to set up a time management system. By the end of the month, you’ll have established a new habit of time management and discovered the freedom of knowing how you spend the time of your life.