“Time management is a misnomer. The real challenge is in managing ourselves.” – Dr. Stephen Covey

To state that the field of time management and its conventional methods are largely ineffective is a bold statement indeed, yet time and time again we find ourselves falling back into the same traps, the same bad habits and the same self defeating patterns.

Much like New Year’s resolutions, our time management interventions leave us filled with a sense of deep personal disappointment and failure. Attempts at becoming ‘more organised’, at working ‘smarter rather than harder’ and even just working harder are not sustainable in the long term. We chastise ourselves and blame ourselves for not trying hard enough and ‘letting things get on top of us’. This thinking is not only self defeating, but bad for our self esteem.

If you can identify with your own personal time management failures, you are not alone. If your attempts have failed, the continual disappointment in one’s self is destructive and ultimately self sabotaging.

So why do we fail? The answer is more complex than you may think.

The truth is we are not incompetent in designing our own time management strategies. In this area, we can be surprisingly innovative. In fact it is preferable that we design strategies that will suit our individual personalities. For example, a ‘to-do’ list will not work for every personality. So if we have the ability to design our own strategies, what is the problem?

Firstly, we struggle to implement lasting change in our lives. For our new strategies to be successful, we need to understand the nature of habit formation. Much like joining gym, until a strategy has become habitual and we have moved into effortless unthinking competence, we will fail to implement these strategies in the long term.

Secondly, we neglect the underlying core psychology that causes us to self sabotage. Time management encompasses every area of our lives. We therefore need to examine the core reasons why we are afraid of success in some areas, or inclined to sabotage and procrastinate in others based on a complex system of historical responses.

Time management without accounting for psychology is futile. To change our behaviour, we need to understand it first.

I will talk about more time management techniques as we go along, the most important message here is a simple one. If it doesn’t work for you, discard it and find something that does. Embrace your individuality and trust yourself that a lot of solutions to your time management dilemmas are inside you, all you need to do is explore!

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