The concept of managing time is overrated. Time mastery is what is important.
Think about it for a minute: do you like the idea of being a manager or a master?
I am willing to bet that you would rather be a master.
When you are a master, in any field or area of life, it involves deep understanding, discipline, consistency, and control.
The same applies when you become a master of your time. It means that you have a keen understanding of time, and the discipline and consistency required to make the most of it, and be in control of your life.
Are you ready to stop managing time and instead become the master of your time? This guide will show you how to change your life by changing how you perceive time.
Understanding the Concept of Time
Time is an ethereal concept, one that can be difficult to define or conceptualize. In an attempt to make sense of time, humans came up with ideas such as day, night, today, tomorrow, and yesterday.
We think of time in terms of space, movement, and location. As such, we’ve come up with phrases such as ‘time flies’ or ‘the weekend moved so fast.’
We perceive yesterday as something behind our backs, tomorrow as a destination that is in front of us, and today as a place where we are currently standing.
While these metaphors and concepts are helpful, in reality, time was, is, and will always be. As such, there is no way to manage time. It will continue to be as it is with or without your input.
Rather than managing time, a better approach is to master time. To understand it for what it is and to find ways to optimize your activities in a way that makes the most of the duration in which you are physically alive.
In other words, while you cannot manage time per se, you can consciously choose to engage in certain activities that will make your life worthwhile and allow you to leave a positive legacy at the end of it.
Put A Monetary Value on Your Time
For many of us, money is a motivator and that’s not a bad thing. Putting a monetary value on something is just one way humans try to make sense of the world and how we make certain decisions.
Let’s digress a bit.
Imagine you are making a major purchasing decision such as buying a house or a car. Your budget and the perceived monetary value you attach to the house or car are among the most important factors that will determine whether the purchase is worthwhile.
You plan. Do your research. Take time before finally deciding to go forward with the purchase decision. You do this because you want to make sure that you only put your money in a house or a car that gives you true value.
Back to time.
No one likes to waste their money so why do we waste our time over and over again?
Perhaps, if you attach a monetary value to your time, you might guard your time more closely. You might start being careful how you spend it.
Start now. Choose a monetary value and assign it to each waking hour. The money value you select will show you how much you value your time.
The difference between people who realize their full potential and those who do not is that those who do place a premium on their time. These masters understand that time is an investment and they guard theirs fiercely, carefully selecting the activities that will give them the highest return on investment.
Now that you are in the right mindset, let’s dive in for practical and actionable steps that will help you stop managing time and become a master of your time.
Work Toward Developing Self-Awareness
How mindful are you of your personality, emotions, capabilities, values, and priorities?
You may wonder what this has to do with time mastery. In fact, it has everything to do with it.
When you live unconsciously, just sailing with the boat, going where the current will take you, you are more likely to use your time on activities that do not provide forward progress.
Contrast this with a person who truly understands herself. She takes the time to self-reflect, to get in touch with her personality, to understand and refine her abilities, and to identify what the most important things are to her.
Surely, someone who seeks to get in touch with herself is many times more likely to carefully choose how she spends her time. This kind of person is likely highly productive. They get stuff done.
Developing a sense of self-awareness is central to not just managing time but mastering your time. When you are in touch with yourself, you know where you are headed, prioritize the important stuff, and use your abilities to engage in the things that feed into your life goals.
Master the Skill of Saying ‘No’
Mastering your time is about staying focused on what’s really important. This could mean saying ‘no’ more often.
The late Steve Jobs, aptly captured this when he said, “Focus is about saying no.”
Being too available, taking on other people’s request, biting more than you can swallow are all time-stealers that derail you from accomplishing your goals.
Every minute you give to something that is unimportant to you is a minute taken from doing the important work that you need to do to accomplish your own goals.
This does not mean that you should never help others. It does, however, mean that you should decide very carefully when to take on other people’s requests for help and when to turn down such requests.
When someone demands a fraction of your time, ask yourself:
- How you feel about what you are being asked to do
- Whether your schedule could possibly accommodate the request
- What sacrifices you would need to make and whether these sacrifices are worthwhile
- Whether the request is in line with your values and overall life goals
If you are not excited about what someone is asking you to do, you would have to make significant sacrifices to accommodate this request, and the request does not truly align with your values and goals, prepare to say ‘no.’
When you do say no:
- Say it firmly and mean it
- Offer a precise reason for your ‘no’
- If possible, suggest other ways you can be of help
If you are used to accepting everyone’s request, saying ‘no’ can be difficult at first but it will get easier the more you do it. You just have to start.
Saying ‘no’ empowers you to create firm boundaries. It not only enables you to guard your time, but it also compels others to respect your time.
Choose to Prioritize the Important Over the Urgent
These days distraction is front and centre. From social media notifications, text messages, emails, and smartphones, it is incredibly easy to become bogged down by all these things vying for your attention.
Dealing with distractions is an area where self-awareness comes in handy. When you are in touch with both your internal and external environments, you can identify distractions for exactly what they are.
Self-awareness saves you from the modern-day time-suck of mindlessly consuming social media content, answering every phone call, or replying to every text message or email.
Prioritizing the important stuff is a choice you make. It is not easy but for it to happen, you must decide and remain consistent.
In an age of distraction, prioritizing requires that you look at the bigger picture and keep your eyes on the ultimate goal.
Let’s take a simple example, in the bigger picture of your life, you want to be a published author. Your goal is to write and complete your book in a year.
In spite of your bigger picture and your specific goal, you will still have social media, email, phone calls, app downloads, videos, TV, websites etc. to contend with.
You know that to achieve your goal, you need to dedicate X amount of time every day to writing your manuscript.
You still feel you have to attend to your emails and phone calls, reply to text messages, watch some videos and your favourite TV show, and perhaps surf a few websites. However, you must decide out of all these things vying for your attention what is really important to you.
Is it your goal and the bigger picture, or is it the other stuff? Whatever you decide to prioritize, you will see the outward results.
Prioritize distractions, and you will see the outward chaos and stagnancy in your life.
Prioritize your goals and the bigger picture and you will, eventually, shine in the glory of your genius. You’ll stop managing time and will not only be a master of your time but of your fate as well.
Take Charge of Your Days
More often than we care to admit, many of us wake up and wander through the day and the week without much planning.
Have you have ever come to the end of the week, wondered how fast the days have flown by, yet you have nothing much to show for it?
It is easy for days, weeks, months, and even years to go by without doing anything meaningful with our time.
The last thing you want to do is regret the things you did not do when you had a chance to do them. After all, isn’t this the whole reason why you want to master your time?
To avoid a situation where ‘time passes you by’ get into the habit of planning your day. A common misconception is that planning will constrict your freedom or take away opportunities for spontaneity.
On the contrary, planning forces you to not only focus and narrow down on what’s important. It also demands accountability and discipline.
It is easy to start. Just outline 2-3 important goals for each day and let your day be built around accomplishing these goals to the best of your ability.
So, instead of powering through your day doing whatever comes your way, your days become intentional. The minute you wake up and your feet touch the ground, you know exactly how to navigate the 24 hours you have been blessed with that day.
A good habit is to plan your activities and goals for the next day the night before. You can also plan your whole week at the start of the week.
Just set out to accomplish a few goals a day and you will be surprised by how well you will start to get the most important things done, which in turn moves your life forward in ways you have never seen before.
Eliminate Toxic Influences
Toxic people are time vampires. The more time you spend with them, the more you will find yourself investing your time in the wrong place—putting out fires.
People use the term ‘toxic’ a lot these days. You do not have to cut out every unpleasant person in your life.
However, there are those who you need to let go of. Toxic people:
- Are the perpetual victims
- Never take responsibility for their life
- Constantly criticize
- Oppose change
- Disrespect boundaries
These kinds of people do not add anything to your time. They only take away from it. They’ll be unable to see the value of optimizing their own time to get important things done. As such, they are fine with the status quo and they want to drag you along.
It is not always easy to remove toxic people from your life especially if you live or work with them. However, you have the power to establish boundaries, minimize your interactions with them, and choose not to engage in their time-consuming drama.
Here are some suggestions:
- Tell them in person that you no longer want them in your life
- Offer a brief explanation why and leave it at that
- Block them from your social media feeds
- If you cannot tell them in person, write to them
- Distance yourself physically and emotionally
- If you cannot avoid them completely, disengage with them emotionally and refuse to participate in their emotional and mental games
To learn how to achieve this visit my life coaching page here.
We live in a hectic world and it is not always easy to stay on top of everything. However, when you stop managing time and learn to master your time, you will get more done. You’ll live a more productive life, and achieve everything you set out to. Start by valuing your time, establishing stronger boundaries, and planning how you invest your time each day.