We suck at doing things properly and in timely manner. Consequently, we have so many terms in management. Not just project, resource, or business management. It could be as abstract as expectation, or even go further with knowledge management. But right now, I want to talk about probably one of the most common management of all time, which is time management. And why we frequently fail at it.
Let’s go back to its simplest definition: manage. It means to control or to handle something. Management, on the other hand is coordination of activities to achieve some objectives. By this meaning, we are able to control the time, to attain something we desire. Obviously, “to control” is not to be taken literally. We can not make time to obey on our will. But we just prioritize things within time constraint. It is very simple.
Are we on the same page now? Great! Let us move on towards, why despite it is supposedly one of the most simple thing to understand, every human being, even on the C-level, struggle to excel?
We have only 24 hours, every day you face time management. From the easiest, buy groceries, to the hardest, juggling one endeavour to another. If we borrow the findings of Malcolm Gladwell, by the time you enter college, you are now the expert of time management. Because you have already experience 1000 hours to do time management.
However, time management is still not an easy feat. Even in this advanced technology era, we have developed several tools that would make time management easier. Ranging from the low level tool like a simple app reminder, to a complex project management dashboard like Asana (God bless you, Dustin). And still, people seeking help from Google Search Bar, hoping they can find the right formula to be an accomplished time manager.
So why? Why on earth this happened?
I stumbled upon this awesome article from business magazine on the internet. She wrote this piece about why we just simply inferior at time management. Even though you have scheduled two days ahead. She found that it’s not about or ability to plan wisely, but our ability to face the task in hand.
It turns out, the root of our issue is fear. And oh boy, I felt it too back on my first month in professional work environment, after graduating from college. But I never realize that the fear in time management (not in managing time), blocks us to achieve results.
“Okay, I want to do task A, B, and C in 1 hour respectively.” And before you aware of it, you already wasting 3 hours on task A. You understand that you do not want to do task A. Although It’s not really that difficult to execute. All you need to do is create timeline project and ask your developer team their inputs to the timeline.
Okay, making a project timeline, may take 30 mins for amateur project manager. It may take an hour for detailed one, including its allocation. And the rest 2 hours? You spend it by making what-if scenarios before you present the timeline to your team. “What if they find it bad?” or “What if they find it really awful and they laugh at me” or even worse “What if they have so much work to do now, and they’re furious when I interrupt them for very basic questions?” and so on… Afterwards, you procrastinate until you have no time to do other things.
Having a deja-vu? Or suddenly remember those uncomfortable moments? You are not alone. Our most powerful enemy is fear. Not deadlines, not limited resources, but our imaginary fear. We fear that our colleague are going to laugh at us because of our fresh ideas. We fear that our client will be disappointed with our work because we suggest them other alternative. We fear that our boss think that we are incompetent if we ask a question. The good news is, these all are natural. This mind-block is acceptable and humane. Here is our way to combat these irrational emotion.
Wait, why irrational?
Because simply, you are afraid of things that do not exist. It’s all in your head. Why would someone mad at you when you ask a question to clarify something you are not truly understand? Why would someone ridicule you because of new ideas that you promote? It does not make sense right? When your anxiety level rises, it clouds your judgement and the ability to make decision. Okay, let’s get to the point.
Write down all of your fear of what is going to happen when you want to do something you are afraid of. List down every outcome of your what-if scenarios. Once you done, you can see that all of your fear are irrational and irrelevant. In addition, it clears your mind, because you put down all of your concerns on the piece of paper. It makes you at ease. It also powers up your rational thinking.
So, next time you are in a (not-so) pinch, start to write. And move on!
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