Regardless of the awareness you have, time management is one of the pillars of our lives.
“Time, no matter how things go, it passes”
sings my favorite Italian singer Jovanotti (you can find the full translation of the song “Non m’annoio/I Don’t Get Bored” here)
Although it is quite an old song (it dates back 25 years), I still love it, and I thought it was perfect to trigger a few considerations. “Time, no matter how things go, it passes” is a simple statement. I have sung it I don’t know how many times without thinking too much about it. But if you do stop to think about it, it has a deeper meaning. It continues,
“Time, no matter how things go, it passes. And it doesn’t care if someone is late.”
And indeed time passes, always and anyway. No matter who we are, no matter what context we are in, it does not even matter what we want, time passes.
“And at the most you might have measured it, with your watches of every brand and model. But time still stays the same.”
The lyric “Time still stays the same” makes me think of a phrase that resonated with me from the moment I first heard it a few years ago: we all have the same amount of time.
Think of a person who you sincerely and deeply admire, a person who inspires you. Well, that person has the same number of hours, minutes, and seconds that you—that all of us—have available.
I used to think to myself, Barack Obama has the same amount of time as you have, Federica.
At the time he was the president of the United States.
Every now and then when I find myself lacking time—because, as you know, there is never enough time—I think back to Barack Obama. Despite the fact that an entire team was serving and supporting him on a daily basis, the idea that we both had (and still have) the same amount of time in a given day, week, or month has helped me through a lot.
“The only thing that is given to do, is having time to be able to organize.”
continues Jovanotti, sharing another great truth from his song. And I can even connect the dots between the song and the inspiring thought that I have the same amount of time as the former president of the United States.
If time is the same for everyone, it is our time management skills that make the difference between happiness and discontent, between feeling harried and stress or feeling in control and on top of things.
We cannot change the amount of time we have available, but we still have a great deal of power. We have the ability to decide how to use our time. We have the responsibility to manage our time the best that we can. Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings would say: “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
The Time Management Challenge
The goal of my Comfort Zone Shake-Up project is to provide inspiration, motivation, strategy, and tactics to train us to change and to do that by expanding our Comfort Zones. One of the tactics I like is related to challenges.
Challenges can be a way to try something new and test ourselves. I dedicate the challenges to topics that are really close to my heart (do you remember the first challenge on positive attitude?), challenges on topics I consider crucial in our path to personal growth.
The goal of this time management challenge is to provide a path for reflection leading to greater awareness, to share some organizational ideas, and to promote action.
Action means doing. In the end, it’s all a matter of practice. It’s all about resilience. It’s all about dedication.
The three phases of the Time Management Challenge
I’ve organized the challenge into three parts and three weeks.
1) Reflection and awareness
The first phase and the first week are dedicated to reflection. Greater awareness arises from reflection; above all, we’re talking about reflection on the value of time. Time management is a complex subject that deserves some thought.
Looking at time management almost exclusively in terms of success, productivity, and efficiency is one of the profound effects of a society born of mass production. Following this path, it is easy to immediately fall into talking about techniques and secrets to optimize and manage every minute of our lives.
I’ve deliberately “parked” the topic of the goal selection (it is essential to know where we want to go and why, but that deserves a separate post). I invite you to look at time management in a way that overcomes the traditional way and do a bit of a “shake-up.”
The subject of reflection is this idea: there is much more. We must not focus exclusively on productivity and efficiency.
To help us in this reflection, the concept of “Ozio Creativo” can be a good starting point. It is the intersection of three dimensions, work, study, and play, which are three important components of our lives. Do not be misled by the label “play” as it is synonymous with joy, social relationships, and has no age.
Laura Vanderkam’s TED Talk “How to gain control of your free time” contains other important elements to think about.
Time is elastic. Time is flexible. Time is a choice.
Your reference for the first week—or of the first days, given that time is elastic—is represented by the post, “Time management: productivity, success and what else?
There is also a new section of the website called resources where you can find a set of tools that I hope can help you in training to improve your ability to manage time.
In the resources section you find:
- A poster with the summary of the approach that I called “Let’s train ourselves to manage the time in 4 STEPS.”
- A poster I called “List of Priorities” that can help identify one or two priorities for each dimension work, study, and play.
The second phase and the second week are dedicated to organization, opening with the question: How can we look at time?
In fact, if we are dealing with time management, we may first have to ask ourselves about the “best” way to look at the time.
Your reference for the second week is the post, “How to look at the management of time: micro and macro moments.”
If looking back at what we have learned from our experiences is very important, then looking ahead brings big responsibilities: that of living the best we can with what we have at our disposal and that of being happy.
If looking at time with a short-, medium-, and long-term horizon is very common; looking at time in macro and micro terms can be another way to shake things up.
These macro and the micro moments—especially the micro moments—will be fundamental to take action.
In the resources section you will find:
– A poster with a MACRO vision of the year that I called “Macro moments”. It can be interesting to print and keep well visible
– An excel file with a MACRO vision of the year and of the individual months. The excel is my favorite tool that I use, check and update often.
The third phase and the third week are dedicated to action. Now that we have reflected and we have at least a little more awareness of the value of our time and the opportunity not to look at time only in terms of productivity, efficiency, and success in the short, medium, and long term, it is time to move on.
Your reference for the third week is the article, “Time management: awareness, organization, action, and lots of practice.” In my attempts to expand my Comfort Zone, I’ve also decided to open a YouTube channel to complement the Comfort Zone Shake-Up experience. You can find my videos on time management here.
In the resources section you will find the poster “From Macro to Micro” to help you in the process.
In my personal path to improve my time management skills, I have read, observed, experimented, failed, fixed, and tried again with different solutions so many times. I’m still in a learning phase, and my plan is to continue to do so. But I wanted to share what I’ve already learned.
The idea that my experience can be a useful cue and that a dialogue and an exchange of opinions will emerge (don’t forget to comment below) and could grow something more makes me feel very happy and repays all the dedication behind this project.
Did we say action?
My call to promote action goes through the following steps:
1) Macro and micro moments in the calendar
Look at the new resources section on the application of the concept of macro and micro moments to calendar management.
You can download the beautiful (so to speak ☺) Excel file that I used in the video in the new resources section of Comfort Zone Shake-Up (you’ll find other useful tools there too, and I suggest you include the link in your favorites!).
2) Planning the week
Look at the other resources on how to plan the week. My advice is to dedicate the right amount of time at this stage (do not be afraid if the first time everything seems very complicated; with practice everything will be much faster!) and to do that between Friday afternoon and Sunday evening.
It is essential to start the week with a plan. Remember that we can always adjust the plan later on if we need to.
Time management is one of the pillars of our life. “Time, no matter how things go, it passes.” It is up to us to look ahead and learn how to manage our time to the fullest. It is a process that requires awareness, organization, and action.
You do not need perfection (I’m also saying this to myself, as I tend to be a perfectionist), you just need the willingness to try, again and again. You need practice. Think about how many Mondays we have to practice!
If you feel you want to go for it, enjoy the challenge and let me know how it went. Good luck!