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  • Kit Allowitz

Why most time management conundrums are self-inflicted!?

Have you ever committed to something you didn’t really want to do?

Have you ever fallen victim to something that you needed to do, a ‘should do’, but a ‘want to do’ won out instead?

Welcome to the deception that time management is always a time issue.

I am boldly stating there is time to do those things you truly want to do if you are clear about what they are and stay committed to getting them done.

Many people I work with, work for, and teach time management to often commiserate about wanting more time to get more ‘stuff’ done. Heck, I’ve been guilty of it myself at times.

There is a way out and it’s called discipline and clarity.

There is a lot to get done, I agree. We often struggle to know which of all the things we could do, should do, can’t do, won’t do, and want to do.

Often, we opt for a ‘want’ in a moment of choice instead of staying committed to what we said mattered earlier. Answer: discipline.

Let me give you some examples that I observe repeatedly that illustrate this phenomenon:

By far the most frequent request I receive while teaching workshops is ‘give us longer breaks, we need to take care of our customers while in class.’ I have experimented with complying with this request, by giving 30 minute breaks instead of 15 minute ones.

Happy workshop participants means better ability to pay attention, right? Then I watch and observe how workshop participants spend those larger breaks. What I find: 90% of workshops participants spend 10 minutes on the phone or email taking care of the customer(s) and the remaining 20 minutes farting around (however farting around shows up for them…it’s not often activity that is customer centric).

Another example: When I ask workshop participants if they know they have customers to call back as well as they see notifications on their social media apps (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc), which choice wins first (call back customer vs. social media). What I find: 80% of the time – social media wins.

Answer: lack of discipline and clarity are at the root cause of time management. Distraction and wavering self-discipline are at the core of the time management conundrum many of us face, not lack of time.

Here is another story of late about pulling the time management chicken switch that I would like to share with the permission of my colleague. We laughed and jested after the fact as the colleague, his manager, and I addressed what had happened.

At a recent sales training course, I was teaching on disciplined selling, this colleague after day one, pleaded, begged, and beseeched his boss to avoid attending the planned ‘team building’ event that night for just the sales team.

The reasons he gave for asking to be excused:

  • He was ‘buried’ in customer emails.

  • He had immediate phone calls to return.

  • There were emergencies he needed to attend to asap!

After much salesmanship on my colleague’s part, he got ‘the sale’ and was granted permission to skip the escape room team building event.

Then the space between the emotion of making the commitment to take care of his customers and doing the commitment occurred.

Then a ‘want’ showed up.

Then a ‘should’ got pushed aside and the ‘want’ won over. The want feeling is often more intoxicating to the brain and body.

When we don’t necessarily want to feel the feelings of completing a should, we often look for a more soothing, more rewarding want feeling. It’s normally pretty easy to find a want to do vs. a should do.

What’s yours?

My colleague quickly found his want vs dealing with the should’s of email, emergencies, and returning customer calls.

The chicken switch got pulled.

The want: Grumble to two manufactures present at the training course. Attending the sales training were two manufactures’ my colleague represented. He cornered them. I watched as I prepped the room for day two, for the next 1.5 hours my colleague expressed his ideas, frustrations, and vision as to what this manufacture could do better, faster, and smarter. While the discussion was passionate and laced with energy, neither manufacture could do anything to make the ideas of my colleague a reality. Not urgent conversation. Poorly placed. While he stood and poured out his soul…. his important and urgent tasks (taking care of the customer) fainted away into the self-inflicted time management conundrum abyss.

The should (prior commitment): Return customer ‘urgent’ emails, phone calls, and emergencies.

Result: My colleague felt really good for the brief time he puked his ideas on others who could not really execute them.

Result: Emails, emergencies, and phone calls returned did not happen.

Result: My colleague still had to find a way to return all those emails, solve those emergencies, and return those calls. When? He was in class with me the next day. Now it’s the training event’s fault that he isn’t able to take care of the customer. Is it?

Result: More false evidence that we don’t have enough time to get everything done.

Solution: Make a commitment and keep it.

Solution: Follow through on a commitment after the emotion of making that commitment has passed. Period.

Reality: Most of us (me very much included) have been guilty of these sorts of choices (choosing a want over a should). I am always fascinated with myself as well as others when we fall prey to this sort of behavior. Let’s not make this an either good or bad decision, but instead create awareness and be wiser next time.

Conclusion: We control far more than we think. Is there more to do then time to do it? Perhaps. Yet succumbing to ‘wants’ instead of completing ‘shoulds’ does not help. Don’t be that person. Do what you say. Stay true to your commitments. Be careful what you commit to. Be laser focused.

For more information about Kit Allowitz, Don’t Pull the Chicken Switch, and access to a free 7 day course that will help you identify what it is you desire and give you access to having everything you want out of work and life visit

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