Every day, I get at least 100 emails. And the funny thing is that, in today’s society, receiving such a staggering number of electronic messages in a single day doesn’t even make me special.
Everyone I know is bombarded with messages, distractions, and demands on their time. We all have different ways of dealing with time management, but when I talk to people about how they stay organized, I’m usually in awe of the way so many doesn’t really seem to have a system. They just do their best and hope for the best, and things don’t always work out.
I’ve always been more of a systems guy. I like strategy and finding set ways of doing things that help my time and energy stay structured and productive. Having a time management system in place doesn’t make my philosophy rigid, though. The opposite is true. When you have a system in place, it’s even easier to see holes and try to keep improving, one step at a time, until you find something ideal for you.
Change the way you think of time management.
For me, productivity isn’t about robotically checking boxes and getting as much done as possible. It’s about finding more freedom. When I get things done and manage the chaos well, I actually buy myself more time to do other things—allow myself a creative outlet, develop a new idea, spend time with my family. Time management isn’t about being perfect, it’s about corralling the insanity and making your way through the day intelligently so that you have room to breathe and time left to do more things that matter. That structure is a gateway to freedom.
Try things until you find what works for you.
There are lots of “time management experts” out there who will want to sell you on a particular system. This is best, that is best, do this, do that… But time management is personal. We each think in different ways, are most productive at certain times and under specific circumstances, and it’s silly to assign a single way of doing things to every single person and expect them to get the exact same results. Investigate different systems and see what’s most appealing to you. Then try one out and find out what actually works. If you hate the system, you won’t use it, and then you’re just wasting more time (and probably feeling frustrated or guilty on top of it).
Be patient, and don’t give up.
Telling people who are interested in time management to “be patient” sounds like an oxymoron. But it’s true. If you want to find a seriously ideal project management tool, you have to be willing to try a few out, and that will take some time. Ultimately, you are probably going to feel like you wasted time learning a system or two that you didn’t like in the end, but don’t feel down. That time isn’t truly wasted because it amounted to experiences that showed you things about yourself and how you ideally want to work. It’s not a waste if you learn something, and it’s not a waste if those lessons lead you to something that can improve the way you work. Once you settle on a system, it will take at least month to implement, so don’t give up!
What worked best for me, and why?
I’ve become a student of various time management systems, and believe me, there are plenty to look at. Web-based project management systems are abundant online; three of the highest rated and most commonly used are Basecamp, Asana, and Trello. I have used each extensively, but ultimately liked Trello the most. It was first suggested by a friend who said he became four times more productive when he started using it, which I thought sounded like a bit of a stretch. Then I figured if he became even 20 percent more productive, that was still a game changer.
Learn the secret sauce of how to use your system.
When I first checked out Trello, I set aside two whole hours to get to know the program inside and out. But after watching tutorials and cruising around, I couldn’t see what made it different from anything else. I called my friend and asked why he liked it so well, and he started explaining the tricks and tips that set it apart for him. When he explained the way he used Trello, I was blown away. My friend’s way of using the tool was better, and it worked for me, too. Don’t be afraid to approach project management tools creatively, reach out to friends who like certain systems, and check out online forums where you can ask questions and find great ideas. The system isn’t in concrete, it’s just a launch pad for how you want to use it.
Kyle Zagrodzky is president of OsteoStrong, the health and wellness system with a focus on stronger bones, improved strength, and better balance in less than 10 minutes a week using scientifically proven and patented osteogenic loading technology. OsteoStrong introduced a new era in modern fitness and anti-aging in 2011 and has since helped thousands of clients between ages 8 and 98 improve strength, balance, endurance, and bone density. In 2014, the brand signed commitments with nine regional developers to launch 500 new locations across America. Today, the OsteoStrong brand is staying true to its growth towards a brand with global reach with the addition of more franchise sales and new regional developers.