Is time management the actual problem?

A lot of the work I’ve been doing lately with financial advisors starts with their story that they are disorganized and have poor time management. 

They want me to share tips and strategies for becoming more organized and managing their time better. 

In most cases, though, their problem isn’t time management at all. It’s a problem that revolves around lacking a clear objective.

Staying on mission

In his book, “Time Warrior,” my friend and colleague Steve Chandler offers this example: “Say your objective was to go to the airport and fly to New York City — you would have no problem managing time.

“You’re on your way out the door to the car to drive to the airport and somebody says to you, ‘Hey, do you have a minute? I’ve got a couple of things I want to discuss.’ You simply say, ‘No, I don’t. I don’t have time right now. I’m on my way to the airport.’

“You are a warrior in that moment of time. You can say no. Purpose makes you that way.”

You handle the situation by arranging to talk with that person later because at that moment you have a clear objective and commitment to making your flight. “People who have that don’t have problems with time management because they always know what to say yes to and what to say no to,” said Chandler. With “a clear mission driving me, time management is never a problem. Even if my car breaks down, I grab a cab real fast so I can still get to the airport. Nothing gets in the way of me going to New York.”

What happens when we think we have a time management problem is that we face never-ending demands daily with no sense of purpose or mission. There’s no trip to the airport that day to focus our attention.

Stop saying yes to distractions

When you’re not focused on your purpose and someone asks for your time, you tend to answer yes. Yes to answering that email now; yes to talking on the phone now; and so forth. Pretty soon, you’re falling behind and telling people that you have more to do than you can handle. 

It’s not true, however. You don’t have a time management problem; you have a mission problem. Whatever direction you’ve chosen to go isn’t compelling enough every day to rise to the level of that trip to New York that you wouldn’t let anything interfere with. 

If you’re feeling like time management is a big issue for you, get help with it. But consider that it may not be a time management problem at all.

The solution, says Chandler, is boldness — an ability to be brave and strong in staying on mission. 

Sandy Schussel is a performance acceleration coach who has been working with financial advisors for more than 20 years, helping them break through to higher production levels.

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