“The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.”
Ok first off, let’s take stock. What, in your opinion, is your biggest asset?
Your college degree?
Your bank account?
Your professional qualifications?
How about your time? Isn’t it the single most powerful asset around? We all get the same number of hours in the day but what we make of these 24 hours is entirely up to us. Have you ever wished for a few more hours in the day? Why is it that some people seem to get everything done effortlessly and others feel that time constantly eludes them? The secret to managing your time well isn’t working more hours. It is about prioritizing the important things and learning to use the time you have more efficiently and effectively. The secret is working smarter, not harder.
When working with my clients, here’s something I notice about our patterns as women:
When we get overwhelmed with too many things to do, the two main items that slide to the bottom of the priority list are:
- Time for health (nutrition, exercise)
- Time for wellness (lunch with girlfriends, massages, leisurely walks and other self-care activities that allow for reflection and relaxation)
We think we’re making the right choices, based on our priorities and what needs to be tackled first, but truth is, without an honest investment in these two, we suffer and as a result so does everything else. If our body is not getting the nutrition it needs, we might not be as productive at work. If we don’t make time to relax, we aren’t able to approach problems from a calm, grounded space.
As Zig Ziglar says
“People often complain of lack of time when the lack of direction is the real problem” (Tweet it)
So what do we do? Let’s start with the understanding that we are all different and so are our approaches to getting things done.
Rather than labeling yourself or beating yourself up, realize that time management is an area of your life that you can strengthen. Like a new muscle, it takes practice and repetition to make it stronger. To help you get started, here are some steps to streamline your days at work and at home. Try the first one or two that jump out at you:
- Allocate time for planning and organizing. Check out the Big Rocks video by Stephen Covey below
- Create to-do lists that are realistic, not intimidating. Use only one to-do list.
- Under-schedule your time: Leave time for the unexpected and for interruptions. When you estimate how long something will take, add on a third of that time.
- Schedule your time in a way that reduces interruptions that lower your productivity.
- Practice the art of intelligent neglect: Eliminate trivial tasks.
- Prioritize what is most important and do that first.
- Consider your biological prime time: At what time of day do you work best? Plan to do your most important work at that time.
- If you say yes to everything that comes your way, learn to say no.
- Ask for help and delegate.
- In the evening make your to-do list for the next day, so it will be out of your brain and on a piece of paper. Leave work with a clear head and a clean desk.
- Acknowledge yourself daily for all that you have accomplished.
- Always schedule some rest time in your calendar in the form of a bath, meditation, time in nature etc.
Also take a look at the two biggest hindrances to using time effectively: procrastinating and lacking purpose. We usually procrastinate when a task seems too daunting, too large or too complex, or when we feel we won’t be able to handle it. When you get that “deer in the headlights” feeling, try “chunking”: break the large task into smaller, manageable action steps and start with the first one. We also often drag our heels or use our time inefficiently because we are bored, unengaged and uninspired. The most effective people will tell you that they love what they do and are aligned with a greater purpose. When it comes to managing your time, you may need to ask the larger questions, “Am I doing what I love to do? Am I doing something meaningful to me?”
As you strengthen your new time management muscle, keep your focus on getting organized so that you can live the life you came here for. Instead of being a chore, good time management can be your ticket to more fun, greater satisfaction and a vibrant, exciting life.
I’ve been pilot testing a coaching program for busy women! The program contains productivity strategies and techniques based on feminine principles, so women can finally stop being busy and start moving towards their goals in a meaningful, soul-centered way. The feedback has been great and I’m excited about launching it in early 2014. If you’re interested in knowing more about it, please sign up for the newsletter for latest updates.
Till next time. Love xo