“Every day, every person who draws breath on this earth receives the same amount of time: 24 hours, 1,440 minutes, or 86,400 seconds.” – The 5 Love Languages
That’s a lot of time to complete things, how ever you would like to calculate it. But, how does one actually get everything done every day?
Though for fun, I know by watching the clock for a few minutes your heart starts racing, palms start sweating and you begin to think about all the tasks you have to get done for the day. Hurry hurry, go get this done, go get that done. You say to yourself, I have 5 deadlines, 10 meetings and 100 emails that must be answered. Well maybe not that many emails. This can be very stressful. To add, this doesn’t count the added pressures of life outside of work. It can actually create an imbalance in your work-life.
So how do we create balance in our life? Time management would be one way.
I personally found this tactic to be very challenging. Once you have mastered it something or someone always tries to come in and change the game on you. So revisiting the first quote, we must ask ourselves, do we really have 24 hours, 1,440 minutes, or 86,400 seconds to complete all work in a day? Of course not, that is ludicrous! Typical work days are said to look like 9-5, 8 hrs. Now that we have established a real impossibility, let’s shed some reality into this.
Tick Tock Here Come the Facts
According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics in 2014:
- Total time a day spent on working is 7.75. Men avg. 8.14 and women avg. 7.28
- Total time a day spent on leisure and sports time 5.1 hours
- Total time a day spent on household activities is between 1.4 – 2.2
- Total time a day spent on sleeping, various ages, 8.2 – 9.7
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, American Time Use Survey 2014, http://www.bls.gov/tus/charts/#household
According to Gallup, “half of all full-time workers indicate they typically work more than 40 hours, and nearly four in 10 say they work at least 50 hours”. Most hourly employees are restricted in time, but salaried employees are not. However, the salaried employees are the ones that work close to the 50 hrs. a week. The frustration, of course, would ensue because the time to compensation ratio would change for salaried employees. It does not seem fair and time management seems to be in order or a talk with the higher ups. Probably not the latter.
Another factor is those individuals that have to work, sometimes have to work more then one job in order to make ends meet. According to past Gallup data, “86% of full-time workers have just one job, 12% have two, and 1% have three or more”.
Now That Our Brains Have Exploded
What do we do with all this information and how does it really help us get better at time management? I personally think it’s balance and boundaries. Is it really about how many hours we work or about how many productive, well thought through hours, we work? Are those quality hours of work we love doing or just because hours, because we think our career will get better? Maybe we’ve convinced ourselves that the massive amount of hours we work really benefits the company and in-turn benefits us. To quote a good friend:
“The owner of the company you work for has a dream for that company, but that dream is not necessarily your dream for a career or the rest of your life.”
What he meant was, we kill ourselves every day to live out someone else’s dream that isn’t even ours to have. It’s natural for individuals that are heavily involved in building a company dream to spend more hours making that happen.
Let’s Come To the Alter
Love what you do versus doing what you do just because. You have to determine what is most important in your life. You will always perform better if you love doing it. I think the more you love a job, the more you will be focused. That means the faster you will be at getting the job done.
Did those extra 20 hours a week really make the difference? Discover the true areas that working over is beneficial, for both parties. Maybe re-examine the hours that are really spent on something and figure out how to make it more efficient and streamlined.
You have to question, are you a large stakeholder in this company’s dream? If not, place a boundary on your time. Maybe just work the hours you need to, after all a lot of people do. Nothing wrong with doing a good job and collecting your pay. There is a difference between working hard vs being a mule. Its very easy to slide into this way of work. You are in control of your career and how it relates to performance.
Learn to say no. That’s right, I said it. There is nothing wrong with saying “No, I can’t do that at this time.” Let people know that it is a boundary for you. Once in awhile you will bend because you have to. Most of the time their urgency isn’t really the true timeline to complete a task. I personally use to ask all the time, “What is the drop dead date?” for a project to be completed or in hand. This always told me truly the urgency behind something.
I think one of our greatest leaders in American history said it best.
“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” – Abraham Lincoln
If you spend the right amount of time preparing to get a job done right, you will chop every project or task down the first time. Now its time to go and get it all done.