Sure, but she’s Beyoncé. C’mon! Don’t compare me to one of the most high-achieving women on the planet. That’s a cruel place to start! Are you trying to make me cry?
We wouldn’t do that (sorry!), but we are certainly trying to prove a point. Yes, she is superhuman in so many ways, but she doesn’t have a magical time machine or clone that means she can do it all and have it all. Nope. She has 1,440 slippery minutes each day like everyone else.
Yeah, but she’s rich and can just pay people to do stuff for her? Time management is easy when you have money to burn.
We don’t doubt that but achieving more isn’t just about having people pick up your dry cleaning for you (although that is helpful!). No, it’s about consciously using the time you have to achieve the things you want. It’s the difference between being the hamster getting busy on wheel going round in circles or a hamster with a sat nav and an open road! (You get the point!)
There is far more to being human and feeling fulfilled and accomplished than completing a long to-do list. There are invisible emotional dumbbells that weigh us down making some tasks harder than others. Weights which are all too often left out of conversations about time, and almost always left from conversations about productivity and effectiveness, which is probably the better context in which to view time (in our opinion).
Everything we do is at the expense of doing something else. Time is finite and the activities that we choose to do in a day move our life in a certain direction. We use the word ‘choose’ very consciously here, as we are aware it may not always feel like you have a choice, but you absolutely do. If your life isn’t going in the direction you want it to, it is because you made choices along the way which took you off course. We want to challenge the notion that any part of how you spend your day is not your choice. Let us give you an example.
“I have to take the kids to school. This is not a choice I make, as I have to do this.” Not true – and here’s why! It is true that the kids need to be at school, but it isn’t true (in most people’s cases) that you need to take them there? Are there other options in-regards to getting them there? School run shares, school bus, family and friends, them walking or cycling, taxi or mini-bus? What it comes down to is the choice you make based on practicalities, emotions and the role you give yourself. You may have a story in your head that says it is your job to take them to school, but if you broke your leg, would your kids still get to school every day? Yes, they absolutely would.
We get embroiled in the emotion of the choices we make with regards to time. When we give ourselves roles that say we can only be a good parent/friend/business owner/partner etc if we do X, then we are unconsciously making a choice to behave in a certain way, and we feel guilt, shame, embarrassment and fear if we deviate from our view of how that role should be played out. (See our blog post on changing your beliefs) By becoming familiar with the roles you have assigned to yourself and breaking down how you think those roles should be played out in a perfect world, you will be able to challenge some of the constraints you are putting on yourself and be able to make better choices with your time. Don’t underestimate how much the gravitational pull of emotion plays in dictating how you spend your time, and most of us are totally unaware of this!
Our time black holes are things we don’t often even realise we are doing but they eat away at our time every day. They are invisible time zappers. These can be things like screen time, pottering, procrastination, chat, waiting on others, duplication of tasks, sat in traffic or queues etc. We can especially find ourselves procrastinating or pottering when there is an activity we really don’t want to do.
We also need to be really honest about activities such as screen time as they are one of the biggest time zappers, but we don’t always notice them. We have all been pulled down a social media rabbit hole on our smart phones and before you know it 40 minutes has passed. There are several screen time and social media time monitoring apps that can be useful if you are interested in how long you spend on your phone each day. So much about our smart phone usage is habitual as well, so coming up with strategies to create new habits can be really helpful. Maybe keep your phone out of view so you only go and get it when you really need it, rather than see it on the side and pick it up out of curiosity. Making the screen black and white has also been proven to reduce the amount of time we spend on them as they are not so visually stimulating!
There are five main ways we can tackle our tasks to make better use of our time.
Is there an app or system that can be used to help?
Does it have to be you that takes on these tasks?
What things are you doing more than once a day/week that you could get done in one go and save time in the long run?
Is everything on your list truly essential?
For these things, we need workable strategies to get them done as quickly and effectively as possible.
The message here is, the trick to good time management is to work smarter not harder. Step back and look at your to do list strategically. Check your beliefs and observe how much emotion is poured into how you spend your time.
If you want to find out how we can help you with your time management, get in touch.