The Lost Art of Efficient Time Management
At some point, we all worry whether we’re managing our time wisely.
It doesn’t much matter what industry you are in, what level of authority you hold, or how crowded your everyday schedule is, we all worry about managing our time efficiently. We may not consciously think about it, but it holds a very important place in our professional and personal lives.
In fact, people go to great lengths to make sure they’re managing their time effectively. Think about some of the most iconic inventions of our time: the airplane, the automobile, computers, smartphones, tablets, even apps to order fast food. These are all directly aimed at saving you (the customer) time.
We obsess over time! Think about the last time you visited a website that took more than roughly two seconds to load (hopefully not this one). How did you feel? You probably got a little bit irritated because you felt like the people responsible for that website were wasting your time. We’ve made great strides in using technology to save time, to manage our time more efficiently and squeeze more ‘doing’ out of our 24-hour day.
The time management pardox:
Unfortunately, many of us actually overuse these time-saving tools to such an extent that we waste vast amounts of time on them. It becomes a situation where we ‘can’t see the forest through the trees.’ We spend so much time setting up, managing and using our time-saving apps, programs and services that we waste massive amounts of time on saving time!
I like shiny stuff, which can be a problem.
Of all people who are guilty of this, I am probably one of the worst. I get extremely excited about new apps and services, and I always want to try every single one of them out as soon as possible. Unfortunately, this repeatedly leaves me with a bloated selection of time management tools, and other shiny stuff I like to mess with.
Think about carpenters. If you were to go to a construction site and watch a carpenter fastening boards together, it’s pretty unlikely that you would find him or her using nails, screws, rivets AND glue. Not all of those tools are appropriate for the task or material, and besides that, using all four is serious overkill. They would spend more time trying to use the tools themselves than they would accomplishing the task at hand.
In many ways this parallels nicely with the subject of effective time management tools.
Sure nails, screws, rivets and glue all have their place in construction, but trying to use all of them at once is just silly. In a similar way, many of us freelancers have amassed a large library of time management apps, websites, services and other tools. But do you really need to be using all of them? Should some of them remain in your ‘toolbox’ for now?
Don’t use a glue gun to nail boards together.
Perhaps it’s time to take a step back and consider slimming down what you keep on your ‘freelancer toolbelt.’ Do you have multiple email accounts that you could consolidate by having them forward to one central account? Do you have multiple cloud storage accounts that could be organized more efficiently? Maybe you’re using too many to-do list, task assignment or other management apps and need to pick just one (I’m a fan of Trello, personally).
Deciding how many tools you need to have on hand at one time is up to you, and this number will be different for each person. But we need to ensure that we are using our time wisely, not just by making certain our lives are organized, but by ensuring that we are not spending more time organizing our life than we are living.
What tools do you currently use that could be consolidated to save time? Are there apps and services that you can just eliminate from your workflow altogether? As contradictory as it sounds, you may want to consider using a new service to consolidate other services you use. There are many sites and services to help you manage email, social media, marketing, task management, scheduling and more by combining multiple services you already use.
Efficient time management is an art, not a science
The main point of this post is not to tell you that you are doing something wrong by using apps and services to organize your life, the point is to tactfully remind people of how easy it is to get so caught up in the excitement of new technologies and allow them to lose their usefulness by forgetting why we use them in the first place.
Do you waste time because of procrastination? Check out this course on how you can stop procrastinating and make the most of your time!