As leaders, we motivate team members to grow: we guide and support, we teach rather than preach, and we understand their mindsets as well as areas for improvement. It stands to reason we want our mentees to be successful.
The question is, are we the same?
Leadership is not a gift but a set of skills to acquire. We know that, so we hurry up to craft those skills for a better life. We work like beavers, willing to have 48-hour days at hand.
With tons of duties and responsibilities young leaders face in this fast and furious world, we take a lack of time for granted.
I felt that pain, too. Books and courses on time management help a bit, but they would hardly save me from procrastination and chaos if I didn’t realize the fact of life:
We should love Time.
I use a capital letter here because I perceive Time as the animate object. He lives his life, struggling with severe monsters for us to lead and succeed; so we should help him: knowing the enemies by sight, we get a chance to control them and save Time for productive work and successful life.
Who Is the Enemy?
Chronophages, or time eaters, are something/somebody who wastes your time or, figuratively speaking, eats it. In his book An Art of Living, André Maurois cites Henry de Montherlant, describing them as follows:
“The worker must keep clear of time-wasters. They are pitiless. From the man who does not resist them, they will take the last moment of his time without considering that if left alone he might do valuable work. They are unscrupulous. The hardened chronophage will go to the chief of the army general staff the day war is declared to describe the military situation according to his janitor. Chronophages function by visit, by telephone, and my mail. Kindness and patience with them are grave faults. They must be treated ruthlessly, since accepting them would be suicide.”
The best way to beat chronophages is finding and neutralizing them.
Classical chronophages are indeterminate goals, random approach to work, and bollix. Ineffective meetings are time eaters, too: leaders should know how to organize them for better productivity.
To find your chronophages, start documenting your days. Write down everything to understand what tasks to delegate, what work to postpone, and what tasks to do faster. I do believe that time management is a habit to keep an eye on Time and think about how to expand it.
Meet Your Chronophages
We all are different, and so are our chronophages; and yet, the strongest time eaters are common for Gen Y productivity. When I tried to find my chronophages, the most active one appeared to be my favorite music. It was guilty in my missed departure, meetings with friends, and unexcused tardies.
Oddly enough, my other time-eater appeared to be… reading. When a student, books saved me during boring lectures; and now, I had to struggle with them to win some time for sleep. I read until 4 am despite my wake-up time was 7 am; so no wonder I wasn’t able to lead successfully, plagiarizing ideas without thinking of consequences instead.
Most of us meet chronophages every day, and the most dangerous of them are:
- Way to work and back. How to defeat: listen to audiobooks if a driver or read e-books if a passenger. Alternatives: brainstorming, making a to-do list, or relaxing.
- Mass media. Your TV kills time with no mercy. How to defeat: get rid of it, make a list of favorite shows instead – and watch them with no ads on your way to work and back.
- With poor organization, it becomes a severe chronophage, too. How to defeat: set time limits on working with emails. 15 minutes on mornings would work best to reply to urgent messages, and 4-5 pm is time to answer long ones.
- Computer games. A geek who can’t live without fictional worlds? You’ve got your time-eater! How to defeat: limit playing time, bringing it to naught step by step.
- Social networks. This one is among the most powerful chronophages to boost productivity. You take a 15-minute coffee break to relax, open your news feed on Facebook – and those 15 minutes turn into one hour of scrolling and liking your friends’ vacation photos. How to defeat: limit your time on social media, and if your work has nothing to do with social networks – go cold turkey on them.
- Next time when visiting online communities, ask yourself: why you need it, what problem you solve there, what benefit you get, and what will happen if you don’t visit the forum right here and now.
- Web-surfing. A tricky one, this time-eater creates an illusion of productive work. When catching yourself in planless web-surfing, ask questions from the previous item to organize it accordingly.
- Let’s face it, your smartphone is your best friend: you use it for both work and personal communication, texting your friends as well as checking emails whenever get notifications on incoming messages. How to beat: turn it off if don’t wait for urgent calls, and ask friends to not disturb you during working hours to improve your productivity.
Don’t Give Them Any Chance
Here come more time eaters to beat with no mercy. Check if any is yours:
- Disarranged priorities
- Lack of plan for goals achievement
- Inability to say no and delegate tasks
- No self-discipline
- Lack of interest
For better leadership, successful work, and happy life, we need to defeat some of the aforementioned chronophages forever, and yet gain over others to use them wisely.
As you know, procrastination isn’t that bad and it can work for our benefit when used right. For instance, it boosts imagination, improves memory, encourages strategy generations, and helps us see prospects.
However, efficient leaders don’t allow procrastination to gain the advantage of their time. To stay productive, develop your emotional intelligence to understand when time eaters come over you and when you need to concentrate and use your willpower for success.
What are your time eaters? What tricks do you use to manage your productivity?