The very wise Jim Rohn advised… ‘Either you run the day, or the day runs you.’
So, I always say, begin with the end in mind.
- What’s your goal?
- What do you need to do to achieve it?
- How and by when?
For some, time management at the moment will consist of trying to find ways to bust the boredom and kill the time, but for others there’ll be a new challenge of juggling working from home with child care and perhaps some sort of school work pressure, as well as managing to cook 142 meals a day, do heaps and heaps of washing and cleaning a house that seems to have a tornado bouncing from room to room. Then there’s the shopping (which takes aaaages)….the healthy eating and fitness, trying to carve out alone time, time for each child, keeping in touch with friends and family virtually, and making sure your partner gets a bit of special time, too…..did I forget anything…..ah, and pets! Phew, it can be shattering just thinking about it.
So, what can we do to make sure we crack this time issue? It sounds easy, doesn’t it, we stay at home and do everything at home, so we have more time and can do things at a more leisurely pace, but that doesn’t seem to be the case for some.
Time management is learning how to instil the process of organising and planning how to divide time between specific jobs and activities to ensure that we achieve what we want and need to achieve.
The results of not managing our time are obvious, we feel out of control, we can sometimes feel anxiety when something comes up because we don’t trust ourselves to get it done on time, we can feel ineffective and stressed, and we can miss out on some of the fun stuff we want to do, because we just can’t seem to get ourselves sorted.
So, it makes sense to take a bit of time to learn about ourselves and how we function best, and to plan our days and weeks to ensure that we are all having all of our needs met.
Good time management is about a shift in thinking – let’s go from thinking about ‘actions’ or ‘activities’ to thinking about and planning for results.
If we focus on the results that we want to achieve, we’re more likely to be motivated to get on with doing the actions to achieve them.
There’s a difference between being busy and multi-tasking and being results lead and effective.
So, at the moment, more so than ever, it might on the surface seem as if we have the time to do all sorts, but without the careful imagining of results, planning, structuring and working through a well-planned routine, that time can easily spin out of control.
Making time is different to having time
It’s what we choose to make time for that equals the doing it and therefore the success of achieving it. This is where the difference between intention and action comes into place. We can fully intend on doing a workout, tidying the garden, completing the homework with the kids and checking off all the things on the work ‘To Do’ list, but, if we don’t make the time, then we don’t do the action.
So, it’s intention, added to commitment with a splash of accountability…. if you had a 9am conference call booked in with your boss you wouldn’t skip out on it because other things popped up, would you? You’d be there, ready, waiting and prepared….so how can you go about transferring that combination of intention, commitment and accountability to other areas of your ‘to do’ list?
Get to know yourself and what works best for you
Learn about how you are most productive….are you someone who can flit from one area of work or one activity to another easily, do you enjoy breaking your day down into small time slots with easy to achieve activities, or do you need a larger block of time to work through and complete bigger tasks… figure out what makes you tick, and plan accordingly.
Are you better if you get the big and stressful thing out of the way first, or do you prefer the satisfaction of ticking off lots of little accomplishments before you tackle the big stuff?
Also, are you a morning person who needs to jump out of bed and get it all done and out of the way, or a slow burner who is at their optimum in the afternoon, or a night owl preferring to crack on with things when the house is quiet and they have it to themselves?
Do you thrive on getting things done early, or do you need the pressure of being a last-minute Larry to boost your motivation and focus?
Manage your expectations and be realistic
Oh, believe me, as someone who has successfully worked from home and been accountable, efficient and intentional for 15 years that working from home whilst your family is with you is an entirely different ball game….there are constant interruptions, questions, demands and inconveniences that are not part of a normal day, so a task that might take 15 minutes in the good old days is now allocated to 30 to 45 mins, and if it gets done quicker, great, that’s more time for another job that is going to take longer than normal….
Focus, Schedule and Prioritise
There’s a lot to juggle at the moment, do you really need the added pressure of clearing out the loft whilst juggling all of the ‘must do’s’?
Overcome your barriers
Problem solving is a big part of managing your time. Plan for interruptions and make a back-up plan to overcome them. And be honest…are you putting things off? Procrastination is a game changer, and we can easily be distracted by one more cup of tea, 5 more minutes watching the TV….and that glorious sunshine we’d been having (which will hopefully reappear!) was sooo tempting!
Break it all down into manageable chunks
Like my Dad always says, you can eat an elephant, but only one bite at a time. It’s a strange saying…but you get the gist.
Teamwork and delegation
They might only be little, but your family are now your family, friends, work colleagues, students, work out buddies and sous chefs….when it’s easier to do things on your own, do them on your own, but involve your family and get them to help to take the pressure off…talk with your partner and plan how you can help each other out …communicate your needs.
- What’s going well, what’s not?
- How can you learn from what’s going well?
- How can you change what’s not working?
So, I know it’s boring on the surface, but plan, plan, plan! Think about how you can put a strategy into place. Remember that our routines and habits impact on the quality of our lives, and how we manage our time is a part of that.
And, give yourself a bit of a break, we are in the middle of a pandemic after all, so we have additional worries and stresses to be contending with.
Remember to be kind to yourself and take some time to ground yourself in the present so you don’t get overwhelmed with it all. You can do this; you are doing this…. these are just some tips to try to help it go a bit more smoothly.
Being physically active is also really important for maintaining good mental health, so why not try our extensive library of video workouts and training plans, as well as sampling the Les Mills on Demand service, alongside the 8fit and NEOU fitness apps with our fantastic value £9.99 online fitness membership.
About Sara Wright
Sara Wright is a confidence coach based in Leicester. She specialises in helping improve people’s mental health self-esteem. She has over 20 years’ experience in the sector, as well as a BSc and MSc to back up her practical knowledge. To find out more, check out her website and Facebook page.