I read a lot of time management articles. Many start with the condescending sniff of “We all have the same 24 hours in a day.” Well, duh. I also know that if I say I don’t have time to do something, it’s not a high priority for me. Also not news.
I’ve heard from some of you that it’s hard to find the time to get everything done, and I believe you. We live in a busy world that makes a lot of demands on our time. We have goals and dreams we want to accomplish, and yet life somehow gets in the way. What do we do?
Time management is an ongoing struggle for me, too, but since you asked, I’ll offer some of my ideas…I also welcome each of you to chime in with your own.
Problem: The Enthusiasm/Puritan Vortex
Many of the women I know who feel strapped for time are enthusiastic about life. We have IDEAS that we want to set in motion, and we want to do them NOW. Often we’re focused on what we’re not getting done, rather than patting ourselves on the back for what we are doing. I didn’t get as much done this year on my books as I wanted, but I was moving, getting acclimated to a new place, remodeling, and fixing a health problem. Seems like a lot to me, when I look at my life objectively.
I think it was Oprah who said something like, “You can have it all, you just can’t have it all at once.” I had to trust that I would get back to it. One thing that helps me is to keep multiple lists — one for the day, one for the week, and a list of long-term projects that I want to work on. I assign tentative dates to those longer projects, and that helps me let go of them in the short-term. I’m still trying to polish Blood & Loam, but it’s on the list for December, so I haven’t worried about it.
What if it’s really, really bothering you that you’re not getting to a project? In that case, give it a little attention each day. If you are beating yourself up for not writing that book, but you have too much on your plate, then write a paragraph a day. You’ll give yourself a sense of satisfaction over time, but you won’t overload and exhaust yourself.
Problem: The Media Attention Sucker
One of my downfalls is The Huffington Post (I’m deliberately not inserting a link here). Specifically, I like to read people’s’ comments, which is probably not a good idea. Before I know it, I’ve spent way too much time and energy getting indignant about what some troll wrote. One possible solution is a program called “Stay Focused” that allows you to set a timer for those problem websites that suck you in. When the time is up, you can’t get to the sites anymore. Most of us have some sort of media junk food, and I’m not saying you shouldn’t participate at all — but find a way to set some limits.
Problem: We’re Supposed to be Nice
We women are often wired to care for others, and we may sacrifice ourselves in the process. We have to set limits with people, especially those who tend toward unnecessary drama. Now, there are times in life when people truly need us to drop what we’re doing to give them love and support. I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about those people who interrupt our work repeatedly.
We have to value our dreams. One way I do that is to not take telephone calls before noon. I am better at giving support in the afternoon, when I’ve finished my work. I’ve had to learn to write first, then take care of the house. Somehow, when I do that, it all gets done.
Next week, I’ll write more on this subject…I’ll be focused on effective use of social media. I’ll also write about how our fears and inner struggles can look like time blocks. If you have some aspect of time management you’re not seeing here that you’d like to have me cover, let me know!