Time is endless but your time is limited. Do you use it to your best advantage? Expressions such as There are not enough hours in the day’, ‘Where does the time go?’ and ‘I’ve got too much time on my hands’ suggest not. These expressions indicate you are not in control of time: you keep chasing after it or are weighed down by it. On the other hand, you may know individuals who pack a lot of productive activity into each day and wonder: ‘How can they do it and I can’t?’ But time is neutral: it does not tick faster on a busy day any more than it ticks slower on a boring or listless day, or favours one person over another. As with the other topics in this book, time management is about self-management; in other words, in order to understand why you do not make the best use of your time, look to yourself.
People who consult us for a coaching programme often tell us that their diaries are distressingly full, nothing can be out out and everything is equally important. We frequently respond to this ‘I can do nothingness’ by explaining the 80/20 rule (also known as the Pareto Principle): i.e. 80 per cent of the results are derived from 20 per cent of the activities while 80 percent of the activities yield 20 per cent of the results (Koch, 1997; Lakein, 1984). This explanation can be an eye-opener with people eager to know which of their activities are the ‘twenty percenters’.
Davis et al. (1995) list some indicators of poor time management: