3 Reasons Most Time Management Attempts End Up Frustrating You

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You probably think you need to get better at managing time in 2017.

Don’t we all?

After all, as you’ve probably already discovered, time management is more disappointing than you thought it would be.

Why? Because eventually, almost all of your time management attempts will leave you with diminishing returns.

Don’t get me wrong, when you’re a teenager or finishing college, you probably have loads of room to grow in your time management skills. And you should definitely seize every growth opportunity you can find.

But for many of you, that’s not the struggle.

Your phone is already filled with productivity apps, you’ve implemented every time management hack you’ve found and you STILL struggle to find the time to get it all done.

And you’re probably thinking, well… I guess that’s it. I’ll never get more done.

As a result, your dreams and ambitions max out because of a lack of available time, no matter how efficient you try to be. You no longer want the promotion because you don’t want longer work weeks. You’ve given up on writing a book, launching a blog or starting a podcast because you just can’t find the time.

And that’s just… sad. Especially if God created and called you to do more.

That’s why your time management efforts eventually frustrate you. You just can’t figure out how to get it all done, let alone how to get more done.

The High Impact Leader Course is my top learning on how to get time, energy and priorities working in your favour.

One of the things I tackle in the course is how to move far beyond time management to get more accomplished.

In my view, time management alone brings you diminishing returns.

Why is that? There are at least three reasons.

Time management alone eventually brings diminishing returns. Click To Tweet

1. Nobody will ever give you more hours

Wouldn’t it be amazing if every time your church grew or you were given more responsibility, someone gave you a few extra hours each day?

The reality, of course, is that time is fixed.

Did your church double in size? Great. Manage it in the same fixed 24 hours you had when it was half the size.

Did you get a promotion? Awesome, except now you have to do twice as much in the same amount of time.

Have a spouse and kids? Wonderful. Now you still have to get it all done in the same fixed 24 hours you had when you were single.

The challenge with time management is that time is fixed. Hours never expand with responsibility.

The challenge with time management is that time is fixed. Hours never expand with responsibility. Click To Tweet

As a result, focusing on time management alone can only get you so far.

Everyone gets the same amount of time every day. It doesn’t matter if you’re the President of the United States, the president of a Fortune 50 company, or the founder of a fledgling business or church plant, you only get 24 hours in a day.

Whenever you’re handed a complicated task, or when your life undergoes a major change, nobody gives you an extra five hours in the day to handle it. You have to manage everything that comes your way in those same 24 hours.

Almost every capable leader discovers that the opportunities available always exceed the available time.

If you’re relying on time management alone to handle the growing demands on your leadership, you will always be disappointed. Because no one is ever going to give you more time.

The opportunities available to a capable leader always exceed the available time. Click To Tweet

2. You’ve mistaken efficiency for effectiveness

Time management is often based on efficiency: do what you’re assigned to do, but do it faster or better.

This always works for a while, but you eventually hit a wall where you realize that no matter how efficient you become, you will still not get it all done.

Once your responsibilities expand significantly, that effectiveness will diminish. And ultimately you realize that being more efficient no longer makes you effective.

Because you’ve got too many things going on.

Never confuse being efficient with being effective.

Never confuse being efficient with being effective. Click To Tweet

High-impact leaders never mistake efficiency for effectiveness.

Think about it: Being efficient at something that doesn’t really matter isn’t a win.

Take it a step further. Being efficient at good things will kill your potential to be effective at great things.

High-impact leaders know that and take the steps they need to cut out the good things so they can focus on the things that have the potential to be great.

Being efficient at good things will kill your potential to be effective at great things. Click To Tweet

3. Time management isn’t nearly as powerful as energy management

I spent my thirties trying to manage time better.

It helped, but I hit a lid with efficiency when our church was around the 600 mark in size. Plus, I just couldn’t get all the other things I wanted to get done, done. Like writing books. Like helping leaders. Or even something as simple as taking a meaningful day off that was truly off.

Then I discovered a number of things that were far better. One of them is something I ended up calling “energy management.” Instead of just managing my time, I started to manage my energy.

I began to notice that like pretty much everyone, my energy levels waxed and waned over the day.

For example, I’m writing this blog post between 6-8 a.m. With incredible accuracy, I can predict that during this window, my mind will be sharp, my focus deep and productivity high.

Had I tried to write this blog post at 4:00 p.m., I would have struggled badly. It might have taken me 4-6 hours to write rather than 2, and I sincerely doubt the ideas would have been as clear or well-developed.

You can pretend that life isn’t like that, or you can leverage it for all it’s worth. I decided to leverage it for all it’s worth.

These days I try to do what I’m best at (in my case, writing and communication) when I’m at my best (my highest energy).

Combined with the other principles and tips I outline in the High Impact Leader Course, that approach has changed so much in my life and leadership.

I’ve published three books (with a fourth on the way), led our church to double the size it was when I was struggling with time management alone, launched this blog and two podcasts and spent more time building into leaders. AND I’ve had far more time off and a much more sane home life.

Of course, all of this is by God’s grace. But sometimes God also asks us to use our minds, not just our hearts, in leading ourselves. When I figured out how to do that, things changed.

Managing your energy produces far greater results than simply managing your time.

Managing your energy produces far greater results than simply managing your time. Click To Tweet

Can't find the time to get it all done? Become a high-impact leader without burning out (or sacrificing yourself).

Without a new strategy and approach, it's easy to continue to:

  • Sacrifice family on the altar of work
  • Overcommit and underdeliver
  • Have no time for what you actually want to do
  • Struggle to get time off to refuel and relax

Worst of all, other people—other tasks, jobs, and projects—will continue to hijack your life.

It’s time to change that by implementing a strategy that works.

At Your Best is a proven strategy to get your time, energy, and priorities working in your favor. It's my step-by-step online course that will help you overcome stress, find a sustainable pace without losing impact, and be far more productive at work.

50,000+ leaders have used the At Your Best strategy to escape the stress spiral and finally do what they want to do—grow their organizations, advance their careers, launch new ventures, be far more present at home, and take regular time off.

Wow! I didn’t realize I was in desperate need of this message and system in my life and business. 

This message so profoundly impacted us, that we named our annual company theme, “At Our Best,” using Carey’s system and resources to strengthen our culture and make health a priority this year.”

Sean CannellFounder and CEO, Think Media

Whatever you choose to do with it is up to you. Join today for instant access.

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Carey Nieuwhof
Carey Nieuwhof

Carey Nieuwhof is a best-selling leadership author, speaker, podcaster, former attorney, and church planter. He hosts one of today’s most influential leadership podcasts, and his online content is accessed by leaders over 1.5 million times a month. He speaks to leaders around the world about leadership, change, and personal growth.