To start with, I agree with the statement that you can't really manage time. You can manage yourself over time. Time is free and it flows steadily, free like a river. How we perceive it and how we use it depends on us.
There are various techniques for effectively scheduling your activities over time. However, I would like to write about a slightly different perspective on "time management". In my opinion, introducing changes in the field that I want to write about may bring incomparably greater benefits than mastery in any of the typical techniques.
It's the Wheel of Life. And for many people, doing the Life Wheel exercise according to the right template becomes a significant moment in life. It's a turning point. More information about the Wheel of Life and downloadable templates in various formats can be found in the second part of this article.
This absolutely does not mean that I disagree with these common techniques. On the contrary - I use them in my own life.
However, I would like to show a broader context of our "being", and talk about a general compass, without which we can manage time extremely effectively, but sometimes badly invested.
Most effective techniques of time management
So let's start with a brief description of common techniques.
Pareto Principle (also known as the 80/20 rule)
Regarding time, it says that 20% of our efforts bring 80% results. So the point is to think carefully about where to concentrate our efforts before the concept of action. For example, ask yourself: which of our actions will most help us achieve the intended results?
In other words, the technique of dividing cases according to the criteria: important and urgent. In short, the idea is to be able to choose in the first place those matters that are important, but not necessarily urgent. Eisenhower himself said, "What is urgent is seldom important. And what is important is rarely urgent."
The technique of planning your calendar according to the proportion of 70/30
I believe this technique can be of use to people who are leaders at work. It consists of the fact that we ALWAYS leave 30% of our calendar unplanned. It is a buffer for unforeseen events. We do not know all matters (or do not remember) at the moment and which others may turn to.
The principle of dealing with only one case at a time
This is, in my opinion, a very important detail. It is especially important for all people who are leaders/managers working in larger organizations. Peter Drucker, a world authority in the field of management theory, writes about it:
“An effective manager does not get involved in anything but this one, only task on which he focuses his strength. Later, he will review the topics and choose the next task that will be at the top of his list from now on.”
On the occasion of this principle, I would also like to mention the important skill enabling one to stick to one's course, keep one's concentration and deal with "time eaters".
If at work you have decided to take care of a selected matter (e.g. creating a presentation or preparing an analysis) - do not answer the phone (unless the family is calling on a hotline), do not check your e-mail, do not talk to the pass. If you have your own room - close the door. If you work in an "open space" - put on headphones or go to a free conference room.
If you plan to be a boss as part of your career (or you already are, but you want to be an even bigger boss), in my opinion, this skill will play an increasingly important role.
On this occasion, I would also like to mention that recently scientists busted the myth of multitasking. It turns out that it is simply impossible because of how our brain is constructed and how it works. I also recommend a book on this topic "The Myth of Multitasking: How 'Doing It All' Gets Nothing Done" by Dave Crenshaw
The Wheel of Life - a different perspective of time management
Time management techniques are presented mainly in the context of our work. Where are the rest of our lives?
So I would like to present a different model, which is WORTH STARTING INSTANTLY. The techniques described above could be used only after anchoring this model.
Let's divide our "world" into 4 areas:
1. I myself
My knowledge, skills, talents, experiences, passions, life goals, health, and personal and spiritual development. Regardless of where I work and who I love at the moment.
2. My job and professional career
I believe we don't need any explanations here.
3. My loved ones
My romantic relationship. Relationships with my relatives. Wife, husband, children, parents, siblings, fiance, fiancée. Close friends.
4. My social life
Neighbors, associations, clubs, housing community, church (understood as a community), charity, volunteering. My overall contribution to my local community and to the world.
Imagine a square that you divide into 4 equal quarters (similar to the Eisenhower Matrix). Now, in each of these quadrants, draw a circle and let each circle correspond to one of the 4 areas mentioned above. And let the radius of each circle show the amount of time you are currently devoting to that area in your life.
"Pictures speak more than 1000 words". So, please have a look at your own drawing. It's you! Are you satisfied with this picture? Is it in balance?
If not - please draw the proportion of areas that you would like to obtain, e.g. in 6 months, in a year, in 3 years. And from tomorrow on, invest your time accordingly.
“Moments of freedom will never be given to you. You must take them.”
A wise coach can help you a lot through this process. Especially when your first discoveries turn out to be shocking. Especially when you first think that you can't change much anyway or that you don't have the strength (or worse, time!).
And finally, let's reveal the secret that the model proposed in this post is a version (or simplification) of an awareness-raising tool that is often used in the coaching process. It is the Wheel of Life and you can find many versions of it today. One of them is nicely described on the positive psychology portal
There are also many online places where you can conduct such a test and immediately get a nice graphic result. But I believe that this valuable exercise can be done without the Internet 😎
There is something extremely important about making drawings by hand or writing and drawing by hand. Such activity makes our thoughts organize and flow from our minds to the outside world, emptying and purifying our minds at the same time. That is why, among other things, such a valuable personal development practice is keeping a diary or diary written by hand.
Who Invented the Wheel of Life?
The Wheel of Life was invented in the early 1960s by Paul J. Meyer. Born in 1928, Paul J. Meyer is considered to be the creator of the then-innovative business sector focused on personal development.
He founded companies such as Success Motivation Institute (SMI) and Leadership Management Inc. His 24 comprehensive development programs have sold more than two billion dollars worldwide. This is more than any other author, living or dead, has achieved in this field.
At the link above you will find an inspiring biography of Paul J. Meyer, which shows how he himself struggled with difficulties and yet continued to consistently pursue his goals in accordance with his mission, which drove him to action.
You can also find many inspirational quotes from Paul J. Meyer on the internet. I will quote here three selected golden thoughts:
Goal setting is the most important aspect of all improvement and personal development plans. It is the key to all fulfillment and achievement.
Imagine something new, or you will only go where you have been.
Life is a painting, and you are the artist. You have on your palette all the colors in the spectrum - the same ones available to Michaelangelo and DaVinci.
What parts does a complete Wheel of Life consist of?
A lot of time has passed since the 60s of the last century. And like everything in this world, the Wheel of Life is also evolving. In addition, it is a "democratic" tool for personal development which means that basically everyone can add something to it. So today it will be difficult to find one, only correct, standard of the Wheel of Life.
What's more, the world is changing very dynamically, and especially recently we have faced global changes that affect the entire lifestyle, level of human awareness, and human needs. Because we are talking about personal development here, and the Wheel of Life is a valuable tool supporting this development - the tool also follows changes.
Therefore, in Empowerment Coaching, we have chosen the Wheel of Life model, the aim of which is to reflect the most current situation of the 21st-century man. This model consists of the following eight parts:
1. Job and professional development
3. Love, immediate family
4. Friends, colleagues, extended family
5. Contribution to the community and the world
6. Physical and mental health
7. Leisure, passions, hobbies
8. Personal development, spirituality
The Wheel of Life templates for free download
A simplified version of the Wheel of Life consisting of the four parts mentioned above is presented in the graphic in the header of this text. We can also go further and draw a scale for the length of the radius of the Wheel of Life. This is usually a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the maximum positive value.
A simplified Wheel of Life template with a scale of 1-10
So you can now do the Wheel of Life exercise using a simplified template, but this time mark in each of the four main sections how much time in your life you spend on each main topic.
Then, by connecting individual points from all four parts, you will get a radar chart, which can often be found, for example, in the results of a 360-degree survey or other tests of selected competencies. Such a radar chart of the Wheel of Life will show the balance or imbalance in your life in a simple graphical way.
Here is an example of such a simplified template to be used in the Wheel of Life exercise.
Full Life Wheel Template with 1-10 scale
Now you can go a step further and do the Wheel of Life exercise in an in-depth way. You will use the Wheel of Life template consisting of eight parts with the same scale of 1-10.
As in the previous step, mark your level of involvement in the appropriate parts of the Wheel of Life, connect the marked points, and see what picture of YOUR life you get in this way.
Here is the Wheel of Life template with eight parts and a scale of 1-10:
Life Wheel Templates - Free Download in PDF format
If you would like to receive appropriate Wheel of Life Templates in PDF format to be able to copy or print them yourself - below you will find a link to download all templates.
Invariably, however, I encourage you to practice the Wheel of Life by manually marking the appropriate points on the printed template, and then manually painting over the graphic area that you received as a result of the Wheel of Life exercise.
Finally, here are some examples of completed Wheel of Life templates: