Category Archives: Time Management

Priorities Direct Effective Time Management

It is an illusion to think that you can actually manage time. You are given 24 hours in a day. Period. You can’t manage time. You can only manage yourself and how you use your time.

Effective time management occurs when you organize yourself so that you spend your time doing those tasks that are in alignment with what matters most to you. Surviving financially, being successful in a job or career, sustaining a good marriage, doing a good job raising your children, getting a good education, spending time with family and friends, assisting and supporting family in times of need, and expressing your creativity are some of the kinds of things that often matter to people. But, we are all different. What matters to you is unique to you.

Do you know what matters most to you? Your priorities? Until you do, you will be a ship without a rudder on a sea of time. Time keeps passing even if you are drifting through it with no clarity about your course and possible destinations. It is easy to let time slip away or to spend time on activities that aren’t important when you aren’t clear about the best use of your time in service of your goals and desires.

When you are aware of what matters most, you are prepared to plan your time to include necessary actions in service of what is important to you, what makes your boat float or what keeps you afloat and is in alignment with your values, goals, hopes and dreams.

Take a moment to jot down the “big rocks”, those things that are most important to you. If you have difficulty identifying what they are, have a conversation with someone who knows you well who can share their observations about what really matters to you. Or, hire a coach to partner with you to identify your values and the parts of your life that are worthy of an investment of your time.

Coaching is an effective process for identifying your priorities and learning how to organize your time so that your actions are in alignment with your priorities. Schedule a free 30-60 minute Back on Track phone coaching session with me to explore your priorities and the opportunities to learn effective time management.

Time Management = Choices and Self-Awareness

Today I observed my mental processes while making decisions about how to use my

Keep an eye on what you want in the future when you make time management choices today.

Keep an eye on what you want in the future when you make time management choices today.

time today. I watched myself identify my options, evaluate my options, and then choose what I would do next. My self-observation helped me see that time management is not about the perfect calendar or some magic time saving strategy. It is about identifying choices, factoring in what you know about yourself and how you work best, and then making the best choice given what matters most.

Watch my video Time Management Is About Choices & Self-Awareness to hear my story and the choice that I made.

Postscript — This will make sense after you watch the video.

Success! When I returned to my office instead of running errands, I went right to work. I very quickly made two videos (no easy feat!), and finished the outline for my social media content for June. Had I run errands, as was my auto-pilot inclination, I doubt I would have gotten those difficult tasks done today!

Lack of Awareness Affects Productivity, Creates Stuckness

One reason we get stuck and fail to make positive progress toward our goals is because it’s so easy to get off track and be totally unconscious of the fact that we jumped the rails. For example, I recently was working effectively and efficiently in my office when I encountered a computer problem. Because I hate to have anything not working properly, I began trying to solve the problem. You know how that goes. It’s like going down a rabbit hole–many twists and turns, much time wasted, and still no resolution.

At some point along the way it hit me that I was wasting valuable time and not making progress on tasks I wanted to get done that day. When I weighed my options I realized solving that problem at that moment was a choice, not an imperative. With that hit of awareness I was able to change course and get back to work. Had I remained unconscious about the time I was wasting, as many people do, especially people with ADD/ADHD, I could have lost the opportunity to get an enormous amount of important work done.

If you are prone to such side trips, getting caught up in things that are not top priority, becoming aware of when you are off track and aware of the ways you can be lured off track is imperative if you want to be productive. I got back on track because I have a good time sense and a strong drive to accomplish my goals. My sense that time was slipping away as I worked to fix the computer problem got my attention and made it possible for me to pause long enough to become aware of the choice I had regarding the focus of my efforts.

Another way to create the opportunity for awareness is to set an alarm on your phone to go off every 20 to 30 minutes. When the alarm sounds, consider it a cue to pause and notice whether or not you are doing priority work. If you’re off track you can then shift back to work that will make it possible for you to reach your goals.

A lack of awareness that you are drifting away from priority work leads to being stalled in your efforts to move forward and eventually to being stuck. You choose. Stalled and stuck or aware and moving toward your goals!

A great way to develop awareness of priorities, of what derails your efforts to be productive, and ways to keep yourself on track and moving forward is to work in partnership with a coach. Developing awareness is the first step in the coaching process and is the first step to better time management.

To learn more about coaching, email me to schedule a 30 minute free consultation to explore the possibility of coaching as a way to get unstuck and improve time management and productivity.

Losing Things, Losing Time

Let me give you an example. Today I was getting ready to buy a cup of coffee at one of my favorite Starbucks stores. I pulled out my gold card to make my purchase and then opted to go to the bathroom before ordering my coffee. I thought I would be saving time by going to the bathroom first because there was a line to order coffee. Instead of putting my gold card back in its usual place, I put it on top of my wallet and put the wallet and my purse on the edge of the sink while I took care of business. When I went to order my coffee, the gold card was nowhere to be found. Gone! I retraced my steps–twice. I looked in the trashcan in the restroom. I searched my purse. Gone!

I initially felt like I was losing my mind. I felt out of control. Then I felt annoyed. Then I went to, “What’s the lesson? What can I learn from this experience?” First, I need to put any credit card type item back where it belongs immediately, even if I’ll use it in the next few minutes. It’s just too easy to lose something like that! And, I became aware that I had a choice: to obsess about the lost card or move on. If I chose to obsess I’d pay for it in lost time and quite possibly still not find the card. If I moved on, I’d have to accept that I lost the card and the money on the card, but I’d be able to get some important computer tasks done. I chose to disengage from the drama of the loss. I asked about replacing the card and ordered my coffee with my debit card. That whole search and evaluation process took about 7 minutes. Not bad–in terms of lost time!

What do you do when you lose things? How much time do you lose per incident?

Are You Choosing Workaholism & Busyness?

When you’re young your time is scheduled for you: school, playtime, doctor’s appointments, piano lessons, etc. When you become an adult some of your time may be scheduled for you, your work hours, for example. Even then you get to choose the kind of job you seek with its corresponding work hour requirements. And, you get to choose what you do with the rest of your time. Time is an important commodity in our lives, something that requires constantly making choices and deciding how best to use it.

Why is it, then, that many people feel compelled to regularly fill it completely with activities and obligations? Why is it so difficult to leave spaces for rest, for play, for spontaneous activities?

Could it be that you have not learned to accurately assess the time requirements of the activities you choose? Perhaps the ideal life that you seek takes more time to achieve than there are hours available day to day. Or, are you so programmed by our culture that rewards over-functioning even at the cost of family relationships and physical health that nothing less than being overcommitted all the time seems laudable?

Stop and think about how you spend your time. If you feel dissatisfied with the harried pace of your life and the paucity of pauses, playtime and rest, remember that you are in the driver’s seat of your life. You can’t control every time consuming demand that comes at you. But, I’ll bet you could excavate some “me” time from your busy schedule, time that has no agenda, if you work as hard at that task as you do at fulfilling all the obligations that eat your time.

It’s difficult to change when what you are doing is swimming upstream to cultural norms like busyness and workaholism. But, it can be done. The quality of your life depends on it!

PS If you schedule regular “me” time for rest and play, you’re likely to find you are more productive in the rest of your life!