Managing your perceptions about time

- November 23, 2010 2 MIN READ

Time is our most valuable commodity. We can’t do anything without it, and we don’t tend to do enough with it. But managing time is not always easy.

It can tick along slowly or zoom along at a frightening pace; it can overwhelm us or reward us. So many people want to improve their ability to use time wisely that a whole industry has sprung up selling tools and skills to help us with managing time.

It’s all a matter of perspective

Managing time is something that each of us has a different take on, and even that tends to change depending on our circumstances.

Before I started using a steriliser for my toddler’s bottles, I had no concept at all of how much can be done in the two minutes it takes for the microwave to perform its sterilising duty.

In the pre-child era I used to stand around doing nothing while I waited for the kettle to boil for a cup of coffee. Now I use those two minutes as a productive block of time in which I can do the dishes, throw a load of washing in the machine or answer an email.

How much is your time worth?

It’s cruel but true that the busier you are, the less you’ll have available to spend thinking about time and how best to use it. But of course, that’s exactly when you’ll wish you had more of it to spare!

Do a productivity analysis assessing how you spend your time, and you may be shocked, pleased or horrified at your activity and results.

Put a dollar value on your time. That will shake up your perception for sure, and will also make it clearer which tasks you should be doing yourself, and which you’d be better off outsourcing.

Want more articles like this? Check out the time management tips section.

Use NLP to boost productivity

A simple neuro linguistic programming (NLP) technique called anchoring can be an excellent way to improve your time management skills.

Anchoring is a process that allows you to consciously control your internal states. Use this step-by-step process to try it next time you find yourself procrastinating:

  • Think of a specific time in the past when you were really, really productive
  • Go back to that time in your imagination, and feel how it felt to be in your body
  • In your mind’s eye, see what you saw, hear what you heard, and experience those feelings of being super productive and effective
  • Anchor those feelings into your body with a physical action (a fist pump works well, but choose another gesture if you prefer)

Repeat this exercise a few times to strengthen the anchor, then go and have a cup of tea or coffee, and come back and re-test it.

You should be able to access that state of feeling really productive instantaneously, just by performing your fist pump.

Anchoring tends to work best if done with the help of an experienced NLP practitioner who’s skilled at helping administer the anchor, but doing the exercise on your own should at least get your anchoring juices flowing.

What is your perspective on time and how can you use it to its full potential? Please don’t procrastinate about sharing your insights on managing time with us.