Speaker and consultant Laura Vanderkam is my go-to for time management. It's worth watching her popular TED talk on priorities. Her new book, Juliet's School of Possibilities: A Little Story About the Power of Priorities, is a short parable about her concepts. It reminds me of Bob Burg and John David Mann's classic The Go-Giver. I read it in one setting.
One key passage explains exactly what Vanderkam knows that we miss:
"I don't have time" means "It's not a priority." We always have time for what matters to us.
It's worth unpacking this oft-forgotten, simple statement.
You're not too busy
I talked about this "too busy" phenomenon a few years back. For a while, we took pride in saying how busy we were. The mistake is confusing "busy" with "productive". They are not one in the same.
I argue that when you say you are too busy, you signal that you don't care, you are inefficient or you aren't serious about your business. As I shared at the time:
The truth is that we are not too busy; we just have too many choices to make clear priorities. One of the worst things you can say to someone in business is that you "are too busy."
Self-knowledge is your power
Like Essentialism author Greg McKeown, Vanderkam believes knowing yourself is key to smart time management. I agree. When we say we're too busy for something we say is important, then we either aren't being honest about our priorities. Knowing your priorities requires reflection.
Vanderkam recommends a few smart ways to understand how you use time, like keeping a time journal to understand how you spend it. You can also do a portfolio review of your time. Where should your emphasis be? How can you get the biggest bang for your buck and return on your time investment? Business legend Jim Collins talks about his own time review in recent, excellent conversation with Tim Ferriss, and it's worth listening to the entire podcast.
Juliet's School of Possibilities has a simple underlying theme: You can't work harder to make your life better. You have to work smarter. Applying the principles in the book is a good place to start.