Is this time management thing legit?
There is a careful balance to maintain if you want to manage your time in a way where you don’t feel like you have to do everything and NOT put too much pressure on yourself. While it can take some time to get to the point, it will be challenging to find a system that works for you without giving it a shot. We recognize that it isn’t always that simple, but with a bit of effort, you may be surprised by the outcome.
Working harder is not always working smarter but these are things that we need to identify personally as everyone is different. I admit this was a learning process. In my 20’s, I bought into the “grind culture” and the belief that you must keep going by putting in all the work necessary to obtain the outcomes you desire. Now in my mid-thirties, I better understand how creating balance allows more room to be effective in all the ways you seek to have accomplishment in life. In my personal and professional journey, there are a few things that I have come across that have helped lower the strain and add the balance.
Let’s go over some of the things that you can make some small changes and see the ways that you increase your productivity and reduce that pressure that we often tend to put on ourselves.
- Nobody has their life together…
Some of us may be in better shape than others. Spiritually, financially, physically, or emotionally there are many of us that are in different spaces and places. No matter what you see on social media, read in an email or in the news, or hear about from others there isn’t anyone who has it all figured out. We are all human. Nobody is perfect and that is just one of the wonderful things that make our layers so unique.
It is ok to make mistakes. There are many emotions to process and lessons to be learned from our experiences. Please try to remember this and you start on the journey to developing a better system to improve your time management skills. Even the best laid out plans with attention to detail can still be derailed and understanding this will allow you to give yourself grace during your process. Think of it as a growth mindset. Instead of feeling beaten down or defeated by the feelings that may come up, create space for improvement and revision on your path.
- Plan out your day
Before you even get out of bed. Before you pick up your phone to check or your email or social media, please please please take some time to frame your day. If you feel more success setting this plan up the night before, go for it! Focus on the “Ws”. The who, what, where, when and why of what you have to tackle, then you can give some thought to the “How”. Whether in the morning or at night, this gives you the space to craft where the open blocks (or breaks) that you also need are going to live within your day. In addition, this can also give you some time to identify if you are capable of taking on an additional task or if that time can be used for some self-care or other personal needs.
- Create a Ta-Da List
The traditional “to-do” lists can be helpful for many but they can also feel overwhelming for some. Lists are a great thing to keep us focused or on task but getting carried away with long lists can just make you want to chuck the list in the trash or increase your anxiety so much based on all you have to complete you feel defeated before you start. Our brains can only focus on a few things at a time so thinking of how many steps are needed to complete a task is not always factored into the list.
So as a result, we need to take a different approach. Try prioritizing your tasks to no more than 4 – 5 things. It’s a fairly straightforward way to make your list realistic and approachable which helps to minimize any fear or anxiety that you will not be able to complete. Plus it increases your sense of accomplishment when you cross things off. Once that last task is over, you can breathe out a nice “TA-DA” when it’s all complete 🙂
- Remove distractions
Let’s be real. This one is not easy, but it is not impossible 🙂
Our society has so many things that can easily steal your attention away from your responsibilities. In addition, if you are like me and have ADHD it can feel like pulling teeth to remove some common distractions which include:
- Social Media
Exploring what you have control over in this situation can make that distraction mountain move. For example, you may put your phone on silent and put it in your bag or drawer (out of sight, out of mind) or if that is not feasible try downloading the app Forest which helps to support you in being present in a way that may be more manageable. In terms of things like e-mail, turn off the automatic notification and set aside a few times a day where you manually check your email. That also goes for you all that leave a million tabs open on your computer browser. At the moment, it seems so easy but how often have you heard the ping of a new email and stopped what you were doing? Be honest 🙂
- Prioritize yourself
We have all heard the saying, “You cannot pour from an empty cup”; but don’t always take that into consideration when it comes to self and our abilities. If you are exhausted and burnt out, it has an impact on your health which as you know impacts your productivity. Ensuring that you are practicing regular self-care, hydrating, getting enough sleep, and eating a balanced nutritional diet are just a few ways to care for you. Carving out intentional time to exercise, engage in therapy, meditate or journal can only increase your ability. Imagine what else can happen if you keep adding to the list of maintaining your joy.
Pick just 2 – 3 of these strategies. The goal is for this not to feel like you are adding more to you life, but the beginning of developing a process that can work for your needs. Maybe integrate these into what you are already doing or revise your time management plan to the chosen strategies and revise as you go. When reflecting on your progress, be honest. Do you believe that you have seen any differences you believe are positive with these changes? Why or why not? Has this been a challenging journey for you to take? Why or why not?