I have a reputation for getting a ton of stuff done in a short period of time. I have a reputation for being good with my time and always being on time. I don’t mind admitting that while I have always been all that, time felt very overwhelming and I was always anxious about time. I was not in a good space with time…at one time.
I started my “time management” journey, for lack of a better term, over 30 years ago. I was tired of feeling overwhelmed, hated the frantic busy, busy, persona I saw in others and suspected was growing in me. I felt like I was always running behind, getting to close to deadlines for comfort and had too many irons in the fire.
I wanted to be productive and have free time. I wanted time to unwind, time to regenerate and time to just be and I also wanted to get stuff done. I wanted to feel accomplished and energized.
I felt like weekends were just a race here to get this thing done, and then run over here to get that thing done, and then oh ya, we said yes to this and that means we have to do this, and on, and on, and on.
Before I knew it, the weekend was gone, there was no re-energizing going on, there was no reading, growing, learning, relaxing, or experiencing going on.
I was barely keeping up. Keeping up with what? I had no idea. I was overwhelmed!
All of that probably sounds familiar! That’s what started my quest for the answer to the problem…how can I get more done in less time and enjoy some down time?
The first thing that I had to do was to understand my relationship with time.
- How did I think about time?
- What did I do with my time?
- Was it a waste, was it an investment?
- Do I value time and use it wisely?
- Do I honor the time that I am being paid for?
- When is time slow and when is time fast?
- What would I do if I actually did have more time?
- What am I doing now that I wish I could be doing more of?
- What would I do if I had less time?
Once you really understand how you feel about time, it’s time to take action, change behaviors and up-level your outcomes.
So how is it that I get soooo much done in a short period of time?
First…I really constrain my commitments to other people. That is the first step in honoring your time.
Just because people ask does not mean that you need to say yes! Not every invitation needs to be accepted.
Learn how to gracefully and with integrity, say no thank you. It could be as simple as, “let me check my calendar, I will get back to you by…” or “I appreciate the invitation, but I have a previous commitment.” It’s a response that is with integrity, honoring your time and it’s a graceful decline.
If this feels icky because of your “people-pleasing tendencies…be the people that you most want to please. I promise, you won’t regret it and either will your people.
Next…I write down all the things that I know I am going for the year. Yep, the entire year!
It’s going to be time consuming the first time you do this but every time after it gets easier and you will see the payoff…more time! worth the time.
Write down the vacations, the back to school, the out of school, the camps, the shows, all the things that you know are going on. Write down any steps or processes that go along with all of the things. Write down the packing for the vacation, the back to school shopping, getting kids ready for camp, packing for the show…all the things.
Get deeper…are you hanging Christmas lights this year? What are your Thanksgiving plans if you know, if not figure it out. Make a list of all of the things that you know are going to happen year.
If the thing has multiple steps in the process, write them down as a “to-do’s.”
Finally, schedule it all and only allow so much time to complete the task. Put each to-do in a time slot on your calendar and get it done within that time frame. Then…throw the TO-DO list away!!!
For example: If I want to paint my office, which I just did. I listed the steps to painting my office and gave it a time allowance. The final step would be to schedule it into the calendar.
- move the furniture (15 minutes)
- clean the walls and base boards (15 minutes)
- wipe down with smelling stuff that makes the paint work better (15 minutes)
- paint the walls with the first coat (1 hour)
- cut the ceiling (1 hour)
- paint the walls with the second coat (30 minutes) (2nd coats never take as long)
- cut in the base boards (1 hour)
- touch up (15 minutes)
- clean up (15 minutes)
The key to success…only allow so much time. Anything that you do only takes so much time but we will take as much time is available sometimes. Only allow however much time you need and not one minute more!
What if you don’t know how much time something takes?
It doesn’t matter how much time something takes, it matters how much time you allow it to take. You can take all day to paint a room or you can take 4 hours.
If you apply this process, for sure, you can paint the room in 4 hours. If you don’t plan, you could let it take all day. I allowed each task to only take so much time and I worked within the time constraints of the allowed time. Kind of like a money budget…
If I give myself 15 minutes to move furniture, that’s what I will use, I can give myself 30 minutes. It doesn’t matter. You get to decide the time but I can tell you that we take way longer to do things when we don’t give ourselves an allowance. We spend more money without an allowance and we waste more time…
You might think this sounds rigid and it will feel that way if that is the thought that you have about this strategy.
The truth is that this strategy actually frees up more time.
Humor me, try it. Not only will you be amazed with how much you can get done in very little time but you will be amazed at how much time you have to do the things that you love, the things that energize you.
You will for sure have things pop up that you didn’t expect. Things will also get dropped from your schedule. You will have to look at your month ahead and make any adjustments and then again at the start of each week.
The point is….know what you are going to do and when you are going to do it. Put it on the calendar at a specific time and then do it in the time allowed. Done! That’s it. That is how it’s done my fellow goal diggers!!!
Here is a cool Relationship With Time worksheet to start your journey on a better relationship with time.
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