Attitude Towards Time

How would you answer the question “Who is in control of your time?”?  There is a spectrum for this answer that determines if you are externally influenced or internally influenced.

How Many Things Can I Control in My Life

Nothing

A few things Some things Most things

Everything

If you fall into the left hand side of this spectrum you are completely externally influenced.  If you are on the right hand side you are internally influenced.  Most of us fall somewhere in between and it can vary from day to day.

What does this mean for personal time management?  If you are externally influenced you feel you have no say in your schedule and have no control over your own time.  People I have worked with in this mindset believe they MUST say yes to everything handed to them during the course of the day.  This leads to feelings of helplessness and being overwhelmed by their work load.  The key is to learn how to take some control over items given to you.  It may be as simple as asking when something is due when it’s given to you instead of assuming it’s needed immediately.  In reality it may not be required immediately and you can get it in after completing other existing items.  Another step is telling your boss you will get to the new assignment once you complete the one you are currently working on for him.

Gaining confidence that you have some control over your day will allow you to better manage your time and will reduce the helpless feeling and stress.  Asking for due dates and asking what can be pushed back if the new item overlaps an existing assignment can help you gain a sense of control.  It also demonstrates to your boss that you understand what you have on your plate and forces them to set the priorities for you.  Unfortunately in some organizations these questions can actually hurt your image so it is critical to phrase these in ways that fit your organization.  It’s about gaining clarity on your bosses priorities so that you can successfully complete your work.

For those who feel they can control everything in their world, they need to understand that there will be situations where they must relinquish control to others.  There are things in this world that are beyond individual control.  As an employee we have no control over market influences on our company.  This could be a major client going out of business or defaulting on payment.  As well weather can wreak havoc on a business.  Years ago a supplier of mine had their manufacturing facility flattened by an F5 tornado.  No one had any control over the event that took them off line; however we did have control over how we managed the recovery for my company.

To really master your own schedule you need to understand how your attitude towards control of things in your life impacts your day-to-day management style.  Understanding that some things are beyond your control while others are totally within your control will help you find the much needed balance in your life.

Let me know how you react to things that are beyond your control.

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