In this second of my series of ‘How To Be Smart at Work’, I would like to take a bit of time, to talk about, time.
Time is consistent, and tenacious. Time does not differentiate between rich and poor, old and young, man or woman, the sick or healthy. All of us are allotted 86,400 seconds a day. no more, no less. Time can be your most valuable friend, or your worst adversary.
There are many reasons why time management is such a challenge to many of us, but I will name 2 of what I consider to be the biggest culprit
It has always been easy for me to sit idly by and wonder how other people manage to get so much done.
Easy, but by no means satisfying. in fact, I’m sure you’ll agree that watching others succeed can get mighty frustrating and makes you feel guilty and perhaps even feel insecure. but, for procrastinators like us, doing something about it, immediately, is usually the problem.
Getting to the root of it usually requires an honest look at ourselves. One of the biggest culprits is fear. While we’ve heard the term, there is nothing to fear, but fear itself, our mind often plays tricks on us. Our minds can be the greatest of illusionists, and often the trickster, and even liar. The mind is designed to protect as its primary function, and does not like change. If it entails whispering o-so-softly that taking an action is going to disturb your status quo, that its’ not going to work, or will fail miserably, that you deserve better, that the pain is more than the gain. The mind would do so, regardless of overwhelming evidence or an outcome that is as plain as daylight that it actually is going to be beneficial to you. The smart worker is able to identify with fear. with that, she attempts to leverage on that fear to achieve her goals, rather than play victim to it.
We are all creatures of habit. Whether its wearing the right shoe before the left, or buttoning a shirt from bottom to top, smoking or chewing a pen when thinking. The smart worker recognizes and acknowledges this. Procrastination is a habit. While arguable, this habit probably spawned during one’s younger days, when it was ok to leave something undone till the last minute or even not getting it done at all. To break this habit, or any habit for that matter, we need to subject ourselves to some re-programming. This is a conscious process, possibly uncomfortable or even painful. it takes a disciplined and conscious approach, and likely undoing consistently over a period of time. Undoing is one thing. Replacing is another. without replacing what needs to be undone, a vacuum results, and if left unfilled by the new deed to do, will revert back to the very thing that one is trying to undo. This takes determination, a expect a fight with your inner demons ie. your mind.
It is easier to not complete a task on hand, and blame it on having too many things to do, then to actually give yourself a chance to say its done. This seems to be a characteristic of starters who have problem finishing whatever they start. The issue is seldom that their capabilities on finishing that are called to question, but the boredom that they often feel, resulting in being distracted on other newer things that seem more interesting. so, saying no becomes uncharacteristic of these category of people.
Then there are those who really want to finish what they started. but when a colleague or boss hands new work and assignments to her, she does not say ‘no’. There could be an urge to please everyone, or appear most helpful so that she can be liked..whatever the case, work hours all of a sudden stretch from 8 to 12 hour per day, possibly every day. The exhausted worker blames it on being overworked; that her boss is unfair; that life is unfair etc. but has it occurred to her that all it takes is for her to just evaluate what’s on her plate, and say no in a firm, but polite manner? Or is it out of character due to the immensely strong urge to ‘please’. Cultural issues aside, many of us could be brought up with the thought that saying no is bad, that it is selfish, and self-serving. we should put the needs of others above our own. we should put the greater good of the company above our family’s needs. Or, we lack the confidence in ourselves that we can and will get the primary job done while respecting our family and social needs without feeling ‘guilty’ in having said no to another assignment on top of a full plate already.
There could be bigger reasons to you on why many fail at time management, but these 2 have been experienced by myself in the past. I admit. I am a procrastinator. I am better now, but that’s due to strategies I employed over the years to help me overcome this kink in my chain mail.