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Sometime back, I was delivering a workshop on time management for senior leaders of a financial institution
Almost all the participants wanted some quick hack, some quick tips – some magic formula, which can help them manage their time better
And if you have read my previous articles on this topic, you might know that I have very different views about time management
I don’t believe that time management is about time as such
Time is constant. Time is finite
We all have the same amount of time
No one is going to give you extra hours to do things which you want to do
It’s more about what you do in that time that is important
But I will go one step further
Instead of time management, what you need to think about is time creation
How can you create more time for yourself ?
That’s the real question you should ask yourself
While the total time available remains finite, you can still create time for yourself within those limits
Creation by definition means bringing something into existence – something which did not exist before
This is exactly how you need to look at time
How can you create more time for yourself (when none seem to exist) ?
And if you can figure out ways to create more time, your time management challenges will get solved
Anyways, back to the workshop discussions....
Since the participants wanted a quick tip to work on their time management, I shared this with them :
Create a NOT-TO-DO list
Things which you will NOT DO
All of us are in the habit of creating a TO-DO list, right ?
And that list never ends – it keeps on increasing day by day, correct ?
So instead of creating a TO-DO list, first create a NOT-TO-DO list
It could be simple things such as:
..I will not look at my phone from 9am–11am
..I will not browse the internet during 5pm–7pm
..I will not multi-task
..I will not attend meetings without specific agenda and so on
These are just some examples of simple things which you can easily implement
Creating a NOT-TO-DO list helps you set boundaries
It helps you create space
It helps you prevent unwarranted distractions
You know what the best part of a NOT-TO-DO list is ?
You actually know what you should NOT do
You actually know where your time is getting consumed unnecessarily
You know what you should avoid
It’s your way of saying NO
At the same time, it's your way of saying YES to yourself
This might sound overly simplistic – but it is, actually quite simple
Yet very impactful
So I asked the participants in this workshop to create their NOT-TO-DO list
And almost all of them came up with atleast 2-3 things to they can easily avoid
I further asked them quantify their list in time
And almost of all them were of the opinion that if they implemented this list, they can easily free up 1-2 hours minimum on a daily basis
They could create time. Just like that !!
One participant actually stated that he could free up about 3 hours per day, if he implemented this list !!
That’s the real impact of creating and implementing a NOT-TO-DO list
You identify and don’t do certain things ( which you should anyways not do )
You free up your time
You create time
You can then focus on things which you should do. Things which you want to do
So if you are struggling to manage time, I invite you to reframe the problem statement :
Instead of stating “How do I manage my time better?”
Ask yourself this question “How can I create more time?”
And then create your very own NOT-TO-DO list
Write down atleast 3 things which you will NOT do
Then go ahead and implement this list
And in most cases, you will realize that you have instantly created time !
Hope you find this exercise useful