Do you feel that others are in control of your time? Bosses, clients, friends and family members are all making demands on you. You get started on one task and a phone call interrupts you with a request to do something else ASAP. You designate time to spend with your family but emails are demanding immediate attention. Or you work from home so your neighbors are constantly asking you to let delivery people into their houses and pick up their kids from school. Sound familiar?

Assaf Chalif is an expert in time management and the CEO of Synergy Coaching. He agrees that it’s common to feel helpless in controlling our time, but he says this is just an illusion; we are actually all in control over our own destinies and the choices are in our hands.

When asked how we can wrest back control, Chalif replies, “This is actually very simple and can be even easy. It’s all about rules. The question to ask yourself is: “Who is more important, you or______?” or in another version: “Whose time is more important/valuable, yours or theirs?” When you understand that your time is most important for your own life, you can turn time management around.”

Chalif tells his clients that “a cow cannot give milk if she doesn’t eat!” We tend to forget that if we are not strong enough, we are unable to perform at our optimal level and can’t provide others with the high quality service they deserve.

It’s key to decide in advance if or what or who can disturb you and when. These key words and key decisions help you value your time and, in fact, your life.

Controlling your focus

Is it possible to control our time and focus 100% of the time?

There is only one person in the world who can control your focus and, unsurprisingly, that person is YOU. When you make rules that you believe are best for you and follow through on them, you can control your focus 24 hours a day. This can be hard work, which is why Chalif teaches a 3 hour workshop on the topic of focus in time management.

Why is time management so difficult?

The number one drive for our actions is emotions! No action takes place without emotions being involved. Emotions have a strong influence over focus, which is why it’s crucial to learn how to control focus.

Poor time management is often a crutch, rescuing you from crossing the borders of your comfort zone. For example, you need to write an important reply email to one of your clients. You may connect to a negative emotion and say to yourself: “I don’t have the time right now,” when in truth, you just don’t know what to write in that email. On the other hand, you can connect with a positive emotion and say to yourself: “I have so much to write, I get overwhelmed and will do it later when I am more relaxed.

Chalif points out that if you make a rule (or work in an office with a rule) such as “You respond to customer emails every day between 9:00 to 11:00,” you will prepare yourself to write that email and you will do it. You will find the ways to get the right answer to your client during those hours.

Using logic to manage time

In the same way that all actions are driven by emotions, all decisions are dictated by emotions. We need to create rules and sequences so that we won’t need to “convert” or manipulate our emotions all the time. We need to maintain high energy and good feelings, even when life is rough.

Create rules by using logic. Decide what your beliefs and values are and test whether they are correct for you (all beliefs are subjective). If your beliefs are taking you to the places you want to go, this is excellent and you can reinforce them with rules. If they are taking you somewhere else, you need to replace those beliefs with new ones.

Instead of being ruled by your emotions, examine your beliefs critically and create rules based on beliefs that help you fulfill your goals.

The secret to excellent time management

When asked for the most important time management tip for someone who says, “I don’t get to decide how to spend my time,” Assaf Chalif says adamantly, “I am sorry, you do! It is only you who decides where to focus and why! We all have the same amount of time, it’s only a matter of what YOU do with it.”

How can you better control your time? That is a more complex question than the previous one, especially since the answer is a little bit different for each person. Chalif holds time management workshops for groups and individual coaching to help people find their own answer to that question. The next workshops will be held on June 21 (Hebrew) and June 24 (English) at Synergy Coaching’s offices in Jaffa.