I first heard of time management because of personal development blogger and author Steve Pavlina.
In essence, time management is the practice of learning to use your time more productively. If you multitask (in the right ways), and optimize your health through diet and exercise, you can sleep less and accomplish more in your day to day.
Some experts argue that time can’t really be managed; only your priorities can. That’s where priority management comes in. Priority management is where you determine what is most important to you, and you organize your tasks and activities around your central focuses.
Is one better than the other?
Time Management vs. Priority Management
In my experience, neither system is right or wrong.
Time management is effectively the art of scheduling, and it can be an effective way of forming a daily agenda for those who like to color code their days and slice them up into segments.
Priority management often involves making a list of the top five things you hope to complete on any given day, and getting into the habit of working on each one until it is complete. If you don’t finish everything on your list, you start where you left off on the subsequent day. This works great for people who are able to concentrate on a single item for a long time, or for those who would like to cultivate more focus in their daily routine.
There is, however, a bit of a flaw with both systems.
The Potential Downside of Schedule Management Systems
Over time, I have come to realize that these schedule management systems aren’t as effective as they could be if 1) you haven’t taken the time to define your values, and/or 2) you don’t have the self-confidence to enforce your priorities.
Don’t get me wrong; there is still immense benefit to making lists and scheduling. However, the previously mentioned items can work against you.
If you know your values, then you already know what you stand for and what you want to accomplish. Your priorities become clearer. You will organize your day around activities that match up with what you believe and value.
Conversely, if you aren’t perfectly clear about your values, your activities will be less on-purpose. You may still have a general sense of what you want to achieve, but you could end up meandering aimlessly. You could end up bending your boundaries too.
This is where self-confidence factors in. When your priorities are aligned with your values, you won’t give away your valuable time and attention to people and tasks that aren’t deserving of it.
This is where some caution is required. You have to account for some personality differences.
For me, I know that I need to be a little bit on the strong side, because my tendency is to want to support and help others at any cost. Therefore, I will spend a significant amount of my time helping others meet their goals, even to the detriment of my own objectives. If I have something more important to do, I have to know that it’s okay to delay serving friends or family.
Conversely, if you’re already strict and guarded about your time, you may want to loosen up your schedule a little bit. There is a balance to this. A good leader doesn’t operate on legalism; they know when to show grace and revise based on individual circumstance. You may have to give yourself grace at times, and you may have to re-configure hard rules.
Fundamentally, however, there are few people that won’t benefit from becoming better managers of their time.
The primary issue with values is that most of us don’t really have the opportunity to live them out 100%. Employment, friends, society and other external factors often require us to sacrifice our character.
For example, if you value freedom, then your job is taking too much of your time. If you value marriage, it’s not healthy to be in an environment where wives refer to their husband as “the old goat” and husbands refer to their wives as “the old lady”.
However, you should not give up on your values simply because you’re not in an environment that validates them. Do what you have to do at your day job (unless you are required to break man’s laws or God’s laws; you may want to quit if that’s the case), but get in the habit of scheduling your free hours to reflect your values.
Other examples of values might include:
There are a variety of other words that can represent your core values. Ultimately, you have to find what resonates with you.
You may question your values. The idea of actually living them out might scare you. I want you to know that it’s okay to feel that way. I once questioned myself and my decisions too.
I’ve talked about the fact that you should have a career plan, but that it’s not necessary to get it perfect. Your priorities are the same way. You’re probably not going to get them perfectly in alignment with your goals and beliefs. So don’t try.
However, you have a choice to make. Either you live by your values and become a person of integrity, or you live a wandering, aimless life. Which would you prefer?
If you want to develop and increase your self-confidence, here’s what you need to do:
- Eat healthy food: you will feel better about yourself for having made a quality decision to eat well.
- Exercise: keep yourself healthy and in good shape. You only get one body.
- Follow through with commitments: both your own and the promises you’ve made to others.
- Develop consistency: your values will cause you to take action on your dreams. Make it a point to do something every day toward the achievement of your objectives.
- Go out of your comfort zone: take chances and do things you wouldn’t normally do.
- Develop your people skills: make it a point to talk to new people regularly.
- Read personal development books: read books that increase your personal belief and challenge you at the same time.
- Listen to personal development audios: listen to self-help audiobooks or the stories of people who’ve been successful in their respective field.
- Seek mentorship: find someone who has what you want out of life and extract as much information as you can out of them.
Living out your values will cause your self-confidence to grow. However you manage your time, do it to get in alignment with your values. Don’t do it for anyone else; do it for yourself first.