In this modern world, most people are overwhelmed and under resourced. So many competing priorities for our time, it has become our scarcest resource.
In my own life, with the responsibility for running the house, progressing through adoption, redecorating with a view to moving, family and friends to stay in touch with, garden to make productive and Church commitments; sometimes you just want to run away and hide. I can’t help feeling that Time Management is a life skill we simply cannot afford to be without.
Of course talking about Time Management is actually a misnomer. You can’t manage it – you can only manage the events in your life in relation to time. How you use the time in 1 day (1,440 minutes, if you are interested) is entirely up to you.
This is where Life Coaching comes in. Life Coaching is about helping people find a way to fulfil all their goals and aspirations, helping them break through any self imposed blockages and obstacles they may have put in place. It is about the present and the future and about getting to a place you know you want to go.
In my research for this post, I found an article online. https://www.fcs.uga.edu/ext/pubs/time_management.pdf has 10 strategies to manage those 1,440 minutes in the day, and I will briefly touch on them here.
The first thing you have to do is know how you spend your time. Keeping a time log is a good way. Find out what types of things use up most of your time. When are you more productive? Where is most of your time devoted? Once these areas are identified, do you really want to keep doing them? If not, then take the power away from the time thieves and get rid of them in some way. More about that later.
You need to set your priorities. The first thing is to learn the distinction between important and urgent. Go through your inevitable to do list (I bet it has a field of gravity all by itself!) and decide what is important and urgent and do those things. Everything else, is negotiable.
Use a planning tool. I love lists and I love my calendar and diary, but if you have your smartphone about your person all the time, check out some of the amazing free apps that you can use to management your time. Use whatever work for you. For me, if it isn’t on a list, it doesn’t exist!
Get organized. Sounds easy, but I know it isn’t. The key to it is to get rid of clutter. You can’t organise clutter, so work through each room in your house, or your desk at work and use 3 boxes. Keep, Give Away and Toss. Everything gets sorted into these three boxes. Then put the stuff you want to keep away appropriately and give away or throw out everything else. Remember to file in an easily understandable system.
Schedule your time appropriately. Make sure you do your most challenging tasks when you are alert, or when you have the most energy. Remember also to only schedule about 75% of your time each day. The other 25% needs to be reserved for creative activities like planning, dreaming, praying, thinking and reading. Or Knitting.
Don’t think you have to do everything yourself. Delegate some tasks to other people. Even if it is “Taking the Bins out”, or “Drying the Dishes”. Anything that takes the pressure off you.
Stop Procrastinating. In the words of a famous sports manufacturer – Just do it. Generally, the task you are procrastinating about will take a lot less time that you though it would is you just did it and stopped fretting about it. I also like to use the 15 minute rule. You can do anything for 15 minutes. So, tell yourself you are going to do the most horrible job, but only spend 15 minutes on it, and you will probably find it will only take 15 minutes to get it done. Or, if it doesn’t, after 15 minutes you are so absorbed, that you just keep going until it is done.
Managing external time wasters is vital to Time Management. These are things like telephone calls, unexpected visitors, meetings, email and the computer in general and family obligations. There are so many different ways to manage these, it could be a blog post all on its own. But the first step in all of these is the simple “No”. Or rather “I am really sorry, I can’t right at the moment…” It is hard to do, but essential.
Contrary to popular belief, multi-tasking is NOT the key to successful time management. Do one thing at once. Concentrate on what is in front of you and do not hop from one thing to another. If you do, all you will achieve is half finished bits and pieces and nothing actually completed. If you require proof of this, you should see my craft box. Full of half finished projects. I really need to sit down and tackle these.
And finally, stay healthy. When you have good energy levels, you will be able to manage things much better. Relax, keep yourself fit, reward yourself for managing your time properly. Though perhaps stay away from the ice cream!