The popular “Ask the Expert” interview series connects you with dynamic industry thought leaders. This year we’ve spoken with Erin Rooney Doland about clutter, Francine Jay about letting go, Todd Henry about next steps, Dr. Debbie Grove about change, and Joshua Becker about fresh starts. For June, I’m thrilled to have with us prolific writer, speaker, and time management guru, Harold Taylor to share his expertise about time.
I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Harold for many years through one of our industry associations, the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO.) He’s been a frequent speaker and exhibitor at the annual conference. In 2002, I remember when he came to New York and presented his “Making Time Work for You” workshop for the NAPO-NY chapter professional development series. I still have the fabulous handouts with a great Harold quote that says,
“You cannot manage time; but if you manage yourself wisely in the time at your disposal, time will work for you.”
Tonight I'm looking forward to attending the teleclass "Sleep as a Time Management Strategy fot he CD Client" that he's presenting to the Institute for Challenging Disorganization (ICD.) My deepest gratitude goes to Harold for taking the time to join us. Before we begin, here’s more about him.
Harold Taylor, CEO of Harold Taylor Time Consultants Ltd., has been speaking, writing and conducting training programs on the topic of effective time management for over 35 years. He has written 18 books and has presented over 2,000 workshops, speeches and keynotes on the topic of time and life management. You can connect with Harold on Twitter, blog or website.
Linda Samuels: As time management consultant, speaker, author, and trainer, you’ve been helping others manage their time and lives for almost 40 years. In what ways do the time challenges we had decades ago differ from now?
Harold Taylor: There is a greater need than ever for time management because of the increasing speed, complexity and distractions of today’s environment. We are working faster, driving faster, communicating faster, eating faster – in short, we’re living faster.
In addition to time problems introduced by the latest technology, such as increased choices, incessant interruptions, unrealistic expectations and concomitant stress, our bodies are not designed to operate at warp speed and we are faced with a variety of ailments to the point that “keeping well” has become another time consumer.
We now have a longer lifespan than any previous generation, yet about a third of us claim we do not have enough time. Technology allows us to quickly dispense with trivial and low-priority activities so we are able to take on more trivial and low-priority activities. The emphasis has been on doing things faster but relatively little emphasis on working smarter.
For example, email is faster than writing or typing letters but we send and receive more messages. Some people in my workshops claim to receive hundreds of emails in a day. Since the line between work and personal time has been eliminated, people answer email and phone calls during lunch hours, text message while driving and watch videos during a son’s baseball game. We are allowing technology to control us rather than the other way around.
Linda: For those that are especially challenged with time management, what strategies are most effective?
Harold: The most effective strategies in this digital age of speed are to work with purpose, plans and priorities. Most people resist prioritizing because they want to do it all. The consequences include unhealthy and inefficient attempts at multitasking, working longer hours, and cutting back on sleep.
We have to accept the fact that we can’t do everything, and establish a set of personal policies (which identify our values), set specific goals, and schedule appointments with ourselves to actually get the work done. This requires the use of an appropriate planner, a lot of self-discipline, and the commitment to regain control of our time.
Linda: Can you describe your “holistic time management” approach to living and some of the benefits?
Harold: I define holistic time management as “applying the strategies necessary to lead a happier, healthier, longer, more productive and fulfilling life.” It is based on my belief that rather than trying to get more things done in our lifetime through efficiency, it would be more rewarding to focus on extending our lifetime. Not only would we get more done (even if we did nothing to increase our efficiency) we would have more time to enjoy whatever life had to offer.
The major topics covered in a workshop on holistic time management fall neatly into an acronym that spells out the word HOLISTIC – Health; Organization; Lifestyle; Internal body time; Spirituality; Time use; Interpersonal relationships and Cognitive skills. These all impact our longevity as well as our time management.
Linda: What has been your toughest personal time management challenge?
Harold: My toughest personal time management challenge as I get older is not to become an “activity packrat,” crowding more activities into an already busy schedule without getting rid of other activities in the process. I think this is more difficult as you age since you can finally see the top surface of the sand in the hourglass.
Linda: Do you have a time management philosophy or mantra?
Harold: I’m not sure if it’s a philosophy or mantra, but I do believe we should never regret having squandered time in the past; because even squandering can be enjoyable, and there are lessons learned, personal growth or other value in everything we have done or not done in the past. And we can’t change it anyway.
Linda: If you found yourself with an unexpected extra hour on a particular day, how would you spend that time?
Harold: If I found myself with an unexpected hour on a particular day, I hope I would either spend the time doing more of whatever I was doing at the time - or wondering whether I had missed putting the clock ahead in the spring.
Harold, there are so many ideas here that resonate with me like the effect technology has had- how we manage or don’t manage our time. I love the clarity of your message that we need to “accept the fact that we can’t do everything, ” and the that “squandering [time] can be enjoyable.” I also never heard the term “activity packrat.” It’s an interesting concept to consider that our schedules can become just as cluttered as our spaces if we’re not aware.
Please join Harold and me as we continue the conversation. Share your ideas about time management, favorite strategies, and the role technology plays. What are your thoughts?