So far in the Time Management 101 series, we have looked at the different mindset shifts you need to make before you start a time management program as well as how to set and prioritize your goals. Today we are going to dive into how who you are determines the best time management system for you.
Think about it like this. Let’s say you have two kids. One of them loves school, the other not so much. You probably wouldn’t encourage the same study habits, right? For the one who loves school, challenging them would be a good way to get them more engaged. But if you tried that with the one who hates school, you would probably just make them hate it even more.
The same thing can be applied to different time management techniques. If you’re the type of person who loves data and looking at results on paper (in a spreadsheet for example), then a system where you track your time would be great for you. But if you are more of a creative, that spreadsheet will more than likely make you quit the program before you even start.
That’s just one tiny example of how the different ways in which you work can determine what type of program would be best for you.
So let’s take a deeper look at some of the different things to consider. Once you recognize where you lie in each of these categories, you can then begin to explore the different techniques that will work best for you!
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Knowing What Time of Day You Are Most Productive
So the first thing I want you to consider is your body clock. We’ve all heard the adage that the early bird gets the worm, right. But that saying originates from a time when people had to work during the daylight hours so they could see what they were working on. That isn’t the case today. Because of this, we can be more in tune with our own bodies and what works best for us.
I want you to understand this: Being a morning person isn’t a requirement for being productive. Knowing what time of day you are most productive is, though.
Every person has their own unique circadian rhythm. Yes, some people are more productive in the morning. And some people are more productive at night. Don’t try to force yourself into a schedule that doesn’t physically work for you.
And you may have a job that requires you to work during hours that you aren’t at peak performance. There’s little that you can do about that. It is likely, though, that there is a certain time of day when you are more alert than others. You need to schedule this time to work on your most difficult tasks.
If, for example, you have to write complex analysis reports for your job. Knowing that you will be able to be able to mentally commit to that task at ten in the morning more than you will at two in the afternoon will allow you to try to work it into your schedule to write at that time. It wouldn’t make sense to work on that at a low point during the day. There will of course always be instances where it just isn’t possible to work on that project at that time, but knowing when that time is will help you to plan it out.
This can also be applied to any work that you do outside of the normal work hours. If you take work home with you or work on your own business or projects on the side, it is important to know when your most productive times are in these hours. If you are more mentally available early in the morning, it doesn’t make sense to try to work late into the night. Your work will be sub par, and you will spend even more time fixing mistakes. If you could instead adjust your schedule so that you wake up a little earlier, then you could work on these projects at a time when your brain in functioning at full capacity.
Your job is to know when your own personal highs and lows tend to happen and schedule your day around those to the best of your ability.
Are You a Sprinter or a Jogger?
Another way to be the most productive with your time is to understand how you like to work. Some people work through projects slowly and methodically; others work in short bursts. How do you prefer to work?
If you’re a jogger, you probably break projects down into simple components and work on them every day (or almost every day) until the project is completed. If there’s a due date for the project, you probably have the work done with plenty of time to spare. You take your time, gather all the facts, and work through each phase or step of the project following a predetermined path.
If you’re a sprinter, you probably don’t work on the project every day. You may not work on it every week. Or you may prefer to work on something when the inspiration strikes. You like to plan as you go and don’t like to be limited or held back by outlines or a predetermined schedule or plan. You probably work best under pressure and work up to the deadline finishing projects.
While you’ve probably heard most of your life that slow and steady wins the race, it is absolutely not necessary for you to be a jogger to be a productive person. In fact, if you have a predisposition toward being a sprinter, you will accomplish less by trying to force yourself to work slowly and methodically. The important thing is for you to know how you work and to plan your life around it.
If you prefer to work slowly on projects, then break each project down, give yourself deadlines, and schedule the time into work on each portion of the project.
If you prefer to work in short bursts, then it will be better for you to leave more white space in your calendar. Instead of saying that you will work on part B of this project on Friday afternoon from 2-4, jot down that you will work on part B of the project over the weekend. Or over the week. Whichever allows you the flexibility you need to meet your goal. Now, don’t be too lenient on yourself, or your natural procrastination skills will probably allow you to miss your deadline. I’m just suggesting that you schedule your time in a way that fits with how you work. You will be more productive this way.
Knowing Your Personality Type
Another way to determine which type of time management program will work best for you is to understand your personality type. You don’t need to undergo a complete Myers-Briggs evaluation here, although knowing all aspects of your personality is always helpful. If you’ve never taken a personality test before, these names may be a little misleading, so let’s look at them a little closer and apply them to time management.
The first part of the Myers-Briggs that is relevant here is your preferences. Are your decisions based on your senses or intuition?
Sensors live in the moment and make decisions based on what is going on around them right here, right now. They use their five senses to make their decisions, in a way. What they are going to be doing in five years isn’t as important to them as what they are doing right now.
Intuitors, on the other hand, base their decisions on their long-term effects. How will this project play out in the future? How does agreeing to this meeting work into their five-year plan?
Next, I want you to look at the nature section. Are you a thinker? Or are you a feeler?
If you’re a thinker, you’re an analytical type of person. You like to use logic and reason to make decisions. Whereas if you’re a feeler, you like to go with your gut and base your decisions on instinct.
This relates back to the example I provided in the introduction. If you’re a thinker, a program where you track your time and analyze the results would be more beneficial to you than to a feeler.
Understanding Your Learning Style
The final aspect I want you to look at is your learning style. Knowing how you process information is important in deciding on what type of time management program you should try.
If you’re an auditory learner, a program that is full of lectures and explanation of how to manage your time will be the most beneficial. You could listen to podcasts, recorded lectures, and online courses.
If you’re a visual learner, you would want to look into programs that explain time management techniques through video or live demonstrations. For example, if you are using a matrix to make decisions on your time, it would be helpful for you to see how someone else uses this matrix first to understand the program fully.
And if you’re a kinesthetic learner, you will want to look for programs that walk you through the process so you can learn as you go. A one-on-one approach may be best for you to get that hands-on experience, though many online courses will also walk you through the process.
Tying it all Together
Now you may wonder how these three different things work together. Knowing where you fall into these different categories will help guide you toward a program that is the best fit for you. This is still a subjective process, though. So you may have fallen into the same three categories as someone else, yet ultimately have more success with different time management programs. The point is to narrow down the choices but to keep your options still open.
So let’s say that you are a morning person, you tend to be more of a sprinter, and you’re an auditory learner. You could listen to podcasts in the morning and then if inspiration strikes dive into some techniques then and there. If you’re more of a jogger, though, you would probably create a plan of action instead. The plan of action you create will then depend on whether you are a thinker or a feeler.
Now that you have a few of the different aspects that will determine what type of time management program will work for you take some time to figure out where you fall in each of them. Let me know in the comments below!
In the next article, I am going to walk you through a few time management techniques and tell you which of these characteristics match up with each technique.
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