March 7, 2017

Managing my Time

Managing time is a learned behavior… with constant learning and lessons along the way. These learned methods and practices take time and refinement, and then more practice and more refining. And more grace when we fail, did I mention that yet?

It’s so easy to think that other people are just naturally born at managing their time well. And the thing is, is that it takes failing and refining over and over in order to establish a well oiled machine for managing time… and then keep the machine running despite LIFE happening. It’s a constantly evolving process, and it’s not easy. Can I get an amen?

Dear Marty McFly, I’m not sure time travel is really desirable for me. I’m not sure I want to see the future (I’m still figuring out the present), but what about just making time stop for a moment? That would be great and oh-so-helpful. Thanks.

I have invested a lot of time (pun intended) and effort into figuring out time management methods that work for me on the daily. And today, I’m being honest in sharing my top two strategies that I continue to reinforce over and over again.

Those who think they don’t need help managing their time typically need the most help.

I reached the peak of managing my time in the fall of 2015. For three months I integrated every single method of time management into my lifestyle. My hunger (read: desire) was so strong that I was going to full lengths to make a lot of things happen in a little amount of time. While I accomplished a lot, let’s not overlook the fact that juggling too many things can be mentally unhealthy… and at times, I flirted with coordinating too many things. The only way I got through that nutty time was because I also asked for help along the way. Man, it’s not easy balancing home, work, school/education, housework, and self care- let alone whether you have family or friends nearby. It’s not easy. Certainly there are things we can do to help.

First let’s all remember that not one or every process will benefit everyone.

  • Just because you may be a procrastinator doesn’t mean you can’t thrive with managing your time well. Change is possible, if it’s desired.
  • Even if you may feel like a scatter-brain sometimes, it’s ok- you are in good company. Key: Asking for help.

I’m not perfect at all. I am continuously assessing the number of tasks on my plate and identifying its priority for me. Between teaching at the university, being home with my kids, and giving presentations at the local wellness center, I like having a plan. There’s many things I do to organize my time, but today I’m sharing my top 2 strategies that help me organize my time:

 

Intentionality

This is huge and frankly, it takes the most effort for me. So many people/things want my time that I must be intentional and present with my time, and I know you can understand.

For example, here’s what I do and it may work for you too. 

  • Set boundaries. i.e. Identify times when it’s time to put the phone down- even putting the phone on silent or out of the room.
  • While multitasking can be great, it can often take us longer to complete single tasks because of divided attention.
    • For example, emails! Identify a couple chunks of time which will be devoted to emails- reading and responding. When multitasking, we may read an email and think, “Oh I’ll respond to that later.” When you do respond to it later, you need to take additional time to refresh yourself on the email and your response AGAIN. We don’t have time for that.
  • Establish realistic goals on your to do list. (Note: I’m a to do list queen. I have at least a couple lists going on at one time, and I’ll write something down just to cross it off for the feeling of productivity. Just being honest.) i.e. Are your expectations for the day/week unrealistic and unreachable? While challenging goals are great, feeling defeated all the time can make us feel weary.
  • Saying no to a commitment is better than a fake yes. No explanation needed.

Every Sunday when I plan for my week, I have to schedule in my “office hours” to work on Be Well Wellness, prep for my classes or for clients/presentations. I have to be intentional and set boundaries. For example, I’m selective on which phone calls I take during my office hours because I consider my office hours my “golden hours” where I’m able to be 100% intentional on my focus with no kiddo interruptions.

Routines

This has taken time for me to establish but I have found my rhythm. Every semester can be a new routine for me. Overall, I’m a morning person- like early mornings. I love early mornings. But my routines shift slightly each semester and also based on my season of life. When the kids were even younger, having a routine was desired but frankly unrealistic.

Note: If you are a new mom with babies while functioning during the day sleep-deprived, just focus on functioning and being with your babies. Life is crazy nuts and hard, but especially when you’re still figuring out how to function after welcoming a new baby home.

In general, productivity is more likely when we have routines established and when we are intentional- You don’t even think about it and you go into action/behavior mode. Second nature. For example, brushing your teeth at night is {hopefully} part of your evening bedtime routine. You don’t have to schedule it in- Ha, it’s just part of your routine. Same here. Identify what routines may be helpful during this stage of life and make it second nature. Repetition is key.

While there are other things that I do in order to manage my time, these are my top two strategies.

Lastly…

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