When I talk to people about the struggles that they have with time management a pattern quickly emerges and I can normally group people into three categories of time management types.
The Elephant Eaters: These are the people who have a giant task on their to do list for the day and they are frustrated because they never seem to get it done correctly, on time, or without a great deal of interruptions. The Elephant Eaters are also focused on the big picture so at the end of the day- they find they may have indeed made a dent in the project they were working on but they neglected many other tasks throughout the day to do so. Do you identify with the frustrations of the Elephant Eaters who feel like there are always so many little things that are getting in their way all day long trying to interupt their progress on the project of the day?
The crumb sweepers: These time managers are the opposite of the elephant eaters because instead of being consumed with one large event a day- they become so bogged down by the details of the day that they never get to that elusive big project that they keep meaning to work on. The crumb sweepers often find themselves exhausted because they have chased one small thing after another all day long. Do you feel the weariness of the Crumb Sweepers who spend each day chasing one small detail after another- always wishing for more time to work on what it is that they really want to do?
The balance beam walkers. These are those individuals who understand that to get from one side to the other you have to have a balance between the two prior tendencies. You must have a elephant eater’s big picture mentality to know where you are going and how to get there; however you get there by taking one small step after another all day long. Consistently putting one foot (or task) in front of the other, always making forward progress. Have you gained the skill of a Balance Beam Walker who has learned to be a little of both so you end the day with a feeling of well rounded satisfaction, knowing you made progress on a project while checking off many little things on your list?
There are going to be times in our lives when we may bounce back and forth between all three of these styles; however, in order to be the most productive with the least amount of frustration we need to strive to reach the third category of balance beam walkers. The looming question then is this one… how do Elephant Eaters and Crumb Sweepers become transformed into Balance Beam Walkers?
The answer to becoming a better time manager lies in developing successful routines that allow you to have balance and order in your life.
If you are an Elephant Eater consider setting aside a chunk of time at the beginning and end of your day to deal with mundane details so that you can focus on a large project in the middle of your day will allow you to achieve that balance.
For Crumb Sweepers limit yourself to a certain time period a day that you will devote to the details of life and then SCHEDULE time to try breaking that elusive project that you want to work on into smaller steps and respect that time by rewarding yourself with the ability to work on your project at the end of your day.
So what type of time manager are you? What can you take away from this post to help you become more like a Balance Beam Walker?