One of the problems about learning techniques to use our time more productively is that if we’re not careful we find ourselves using our new skills to take on more and more commitments. So we end up feeling just as overwhelmed as before… it’s just that we have a bigger and better overwhelm than we used to have!
So let’s have a look at one of the most basic time management principles… which is to take on only those things which take us towards our life goals. This takes constant vigilance.
Most time management systems teach that we should prioritize what we do. And on the surface that sounds like good advice. But think about it for a moment. Let’s apply that principle to cleaning your house. You decide that the priorities for cleaning your house are the living room, the dining room, the bathroom, the kitchen, the bedrooms, the closets, the loft, the cellar and the garage in that order. What is going to happen? You end up with very untidy closets, loft, cellar and garage… that’s what! And that’s how most of us run our lives (and clean our houses).
There are two ways of getting round this:
a. Regard all your house as of equal priority for cleaning and clean each part in turn. That way you may not have quite such a sparkling living room, but you don’t have the drain of knowing about all the horrors that lurk beneath the surface.
b. Realise that cleaning the house is an unprofitable use of your time and pay someone to do it for you.
So the real question is not “What priority is this?” but “Should I be doing this at all?”
If the answer is “Yes”, then the task must be given the necessary time to carry it out. If the answer is “No”, then don’t do it!