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The time management secret nobody talks about

  • 5 min read

So, you’ve mastered the art of time management. You still face a serious challenge.

You can plan your day down to the minute. You can be as disciplined as a well-trained soldier. Sorry, it won’t make you a productivity superstar. Making the best use of your time is not about sticking to your schedule. Effective time management comes down to making the best use of your time when life disrupts your meticulously planned schedule. And life always disrupts your schedule.

The experts who sell their productivity tips, routine-based systems, and time management techniques rarely talk about strategies to deal with disruptions. It’s too easy to say “just stick to your plan.” Of course, life does not work that way. You not only need to work around these disruptions, but you also need to use them to your benefit. This might be the most crucial Time Management question you’ve never asked yourself.

How do you get stuff done when life interferes with your plans?

What would be a better use of your time?

Why not just start here? Why go through the preamble of the earlier questions? If that works for you, go right ahead. I find that I need to go through the previous questions first; it helps me reach an emotional state where I can accept the answers I discover in this phase.

When my flight was delayed, I decided not to complain. I decided against flying standby for an earlier flight. I wanted to use the gift of time to accomplish something important to me. I needed complete focus to use that time productively.

Expand your horizon while you consider the question of what would be a better use of your time. Do not limit yourself to something work-related. Perhaps you can spend time on personal development, reading, practicing a skill, promotional work. The only rule is that you choose something that matters to you.

Is this out of your control?

The answer is almost always no. When shit happens, it’s almost always beyond your control. That’s what makes it so frustrating. We don’t always recognize this in the thick of the situation. Acknowledging the fact can help calm you and allow you to assess without emotional swings affecting your judgment.

Is there anything you can do about it?

Sometimes you can mitigate the effects of interruptions to your schedule.