Are you dreading the approaching holidays because you’re already short on time? There is something you can do about it, but it requires taking an honest look at your relationship to time. If you’re ready for my help, here goes. First, you have no idea how many things you actually are responsible for or intending to do each day. Second, you definitely have no idea what you are actually doing with your time. That wasn’t so bad, was it?
You’re not the only one; we help our clients with time regularly. Often in coaching we require our clients to analyze this very closely, literally writing down everything they do with their time (just as we would do with food)! It is always tremendously revealing and it always forces the client to put certain things into into alignment. Here are some discoveries we have made that were of particular help to clients:
1) Time has an exponential quality to it. We waste a lot of time by not addressing something the first time we see it or think to deal with it. The time you spend in your mind avoiding it or justifying not getting to it is what makes you feel busy and overwhelmed, and it wastes time. Each time you pass something like mail to open, a call to return, dishes to put away, the “weight” of it gets exponentially heavier.
2) Efficiency with time is a function of following rules. Your best bet is either to have a rule that you address a thing immediately (e.g. I will always open my mail first thing when I get home) or have a rule for how you address it (all mail gets opened on Thursdays 6pm-7pm).
3) Your mindset matters. If you justify flying by the seat of your pants as “your own unique and creative flair,” or if you think that long deliberation is a sign of intelligence, know that having those theories will affect your choices and actions. Take stock of what you currently “believe” with regard to time. Chances are you’ve got some interesting logic or theory about time that isn’t necessarily true. You could choose to design how you will think about time rather than keeping an outdated and faulty belief in action that has been making you feel stuck. For example, if you believe that you only perform well under a deadline, how do you know if this is true? Try it the other way one time to test your theory.
4) Take stock of it all. Before you can begin to design time beautifully you have to take stock of everything you are really committed to doing each day and face the reality of the time it takes to do it all. Consider the list below; did you realize there is so much on yours?
Talking to people
All the aspects of your job
Checking in with . . .
Recreation and hobbies
Planning the next day
Doctors or other appointments
Delighting in your children
Prep for meetings or calls
Follow-up from meetings or calls
Calling your family and friends
Rituals: unpacking, charging cell phone
Moving things from “To-Do” to calendar
All the best,