“Time is money.” – One or the other of you has certainly heard this sentence before, and when I also encountered it most recently in a ZOOM meeting, it stuck with me. That’s why this article is about targeted time management (see also Time Management – A Chance to Create Inner Peace?) and how you can get back not only monetary means, but above all your freedom as well as your happiness by using your time.
Does time really mean money?
In a business context, it seems that this analogy cannot be dismissed out of hand. This understanding naturally follows here a completely outdated understanding of time, according to which one’s own life and working time would necessarily have to be adapted to a generally valid linear concept of time. This adjustment was initially subject to historical timekeeping, which was based on sunrise and sunset and the seasons. With the industrial revolution finally occurred the industrialization of the time. Time gained importance as a valuable commodity. In modern times, it is flexible time concepts that we have to adapt to on a daily basis, and it is not uncommon for this demand to end in burnout or the onset of depression.
But what can help us to escape from this “mill wheel of time”?
One possible answer could be the concept of memento mori (Latin for remember death), because the thought of our mortality leads us to see why our time is so important.
At this point, however, I would like to bring another exciting, if somewhat morbid, thought to the discourse, and that is one by the well-known French philosopher Albert Camus. In his view, there is a core idea which is completely underrepresented in philosophy. To this he says: “There is only one really serious philosophical problem: suicide.” (beginning from his work The Myth of Sisyphus).
Asking yourself why you shouldn’t kill yourself, conversely, leads you to think about the reasons you should stay alive. The conclusion is: Because our life has value.
What is worth living for
This “value of life” is not given to us by money. We understand the value of life only when we have managed to arrive in the presence of cyclical time. In concrete terms, this means that if we have managed to achieve a balance between society’s linear concept of time and our physical/spiritual concept of time (also known as biorhythms). These two ways of understanding time are often diametrically opposed to each other and thus cause desynchronization. So, while we desperately try to follow our biorhythms, for example by giving in to our natural feelings of tiredness or hunger, the world of work forces us to perform at our best mentally at certain times (9 to 5) and to have our daily lunch in a certain period (11:00-13:00) that is quietly accepted by everyone.
But what should be the solution to this challenge? How do we find a healthy balance of both concepts of time? Do we need to change our understanding of time? Should working hours be completely dissolved? At best, should we tear up our to-do lists?
Time management as a constant in a volatile world
Before you already start the shredder, I would like to go into the essential core of this article. Don’t get me wrong. Time management can be a wonderful thing, it gives us security, structure and can also make us feel calmer as we realize we are gradually getting closer to our goals. It also allows us a kind of control in a world where many things are beyond our reach and where we sometimes feel we are at the mercy of circumstances and decisions made by others, which in turn leads to an inner powerlessness.
But I would like to dispel one time management myth in this article:
“I don’t have time” is one of the biggest lies in business and probably in the rest of life.
We all have 24 hours in a day at our disposal, provided we are healthy and can independently dispose of our resources. So if you don’t have time for certain people, projects or collaborations, it doesn’t mean that the time is factually non-existent, but because you don’t take it – your priorities are simply different, while the time has not changed.
Freedom also means taking responsibility
In principle, it is also desirable to have certain priorities. According to Jean-Paul Sartre, freedom always goes hand in hand with decision and responsibility, which is why he made the statement: “To be free is to be condemned to be free”(More on the subject: Existentialism). We are born in freedom and, from the moment we consciously use this freedom, we have equally been given the responsibility to fill this freedom with exciting, inspiring and value-creating tasks in the most meaningful and meaningful way possible. But such freedom can also weigh heavily. Our decisions often have far-reaching consequences, not only for ourselves, but also for family, colleagues or cooperation partners.
And this is where our time dilemma begins. Because managing time is only successful for those who are prepared to make decisions and also bear the responsibility for the consequences. On the other hand, if you’re always afraid of missing out (see my article on FOMO) or even afraid to make decisions at all, you always feel like a victim of time, which seems to slip through your fingers like sand. For this reason, these people also often make illusory thoughts about time á la “When I finally have a vacation, then…” or “When I retire, then…” because these events lie far in the future and need neither decision, nor responsibility. If they then occur, the excuses follow as to why the illusion and reality seem incompatible and the set goals cannot be implemented after all.
The secret of good time management
Good specialists and managers as well as entrepreneurs know the secret of time. They, too, feel stressed from time to time or question their decisions, but they don’t consider themselves driven, never (allowed) to rest.
Now you must be wondering what the secret of time is.
The answer is quite simple: you can not have everything.
They cannot work 80 hours a week and have enough time for themselves, their partnership and their children. You can’t start a business and then supposedly think you now have more time to pursue your hobbies or family life.
Investing and managing time means, in addition to making decisions and taking responsibility for them, one thing above all: making compromises and yes, also making “sacrifices” or as I prefer to put it: setting priorities.
But how do you manage to set the “right” priorities?
Use your time confidently
I am happy to share with them my tips on how you can gain more “time sovereignty”:
- Ask yourself the right questions: Which task fulfills me and which does not? Why do I still practice the latter? If the answer is livelihood – How can I create change here? Which people can help me with this? Do I need the advice of a good friend? Do I need the support within my partnership or do I need professional support from a business coach?
- Use a time management tool: Whether it’s an online tool (e.g. Microsoft To Do) or an analog tool, such as my time management kit – time management starts with writing down all the tasks that take away our mental energy and thus prevent us from working on the really important things.
- Make decisions that you want to take responsibility for: Many of my clients ask me how I manage to be present on social media so much, pursue my business and still maintain a personal life. The answer is: I organize, I decide and I bear responsibility. Would you like a concrete example? Why not! At this point, I like to add my personal “topic from hell”: taxes. I decided to leave this issue to a professional in the early stages of starting my business, why? Because it costs me important life time that is better invested in other areas where I see my strengths. I made this decision consciously and for this reason I am not complaining about the price my tax advisor charges for it. This is not only justified, I am even happy to pay it, because my profit is thereby (not only financially) a lot higher.
- Avoid “time robbers”: Of course, the topic of social media must not be neglected in this context. Who does not know this? It feels like you’re only scrolling through your Facebook timeline for two or three minutes, and suddenly (!) thirty minutes have passed. For this reason, I have fixed “time slots” in which I spend time on social media. I then use these to reply to comments, post articles or catch up on life, business and news from around the world. Post scheduling using tools such as Buffer or Hootsuite can also help a little here, as a one-time (weekly) time investment can save a lot of active work through scheduling, allowing you to rather dedicate yourself to direct communication with business and cooperation partners.
- Invest time in yourself: In addition to all the people and professional/business challenges, there is one important time investment you should never forget: The time you invest in yourself. We usually trim this area down or put it in the back. Time spent on wellness, sports, a hobby or simply idleness is often not prioritized, nor is time investment in one’s own education and vision. In my coaching sessions, I see every day what can happen when my clients have made a conscious decision to invest time in themselves and choose me as their guide. Suddenly, mental barriers are torn down, new ideas are developed and courage for innovative projects is born. If you consciously take time for yourself and your own life and/or business vision, you will clearly feel that there is more to life than what was taught in school or at home. This opens up new career paths and exciting business ideas that we had previously always buried under the credo “I don’t have time for that”.
And my central time tip
Always counter your to-do list with the central question: Is this task, this activity, or this person worth my time? If the answer is “no”, invest your time elsewhere, because your life time is finite and its most important asset, so spend it with people and activities that are important to you.