Is there really such a thing as time management techniques? That’s what a friend said to me recently. I could see all of the women across America nodding their heads at that thought. It was the last week of the school year, and my friend, rightly so, was feeling overwhelmed by all that had to be done. Her thoughts reflected what mine have been at times. It feels like there are so many things going at once and schedules always in flux. You try to do things to make time work for you better, but…
Is Time Management a Myth?
So here’s the thing… This is my opinion as a busy woman and life coach. There is no magic formula that is going to suddenly make time stand still. So that you can get everything done that you always wanted to in a painless way. There is no golden time management system. Some people even hate the term time management. The good news is that there are so many ways to help stretch your time and give you more energy for the things you need to do. The key is to not overanalyze and obsess how to get every square inch of time out of the day. Instead, there is a way of living where you don’t see time as something that you lose or that people take from you. But instead it is about what you choose to invest your resources in each day. It is about being intentional about your most valuable resource your time. This takes work, but the result is glorious. Here are 6 ways to change how you view your most valuable resource and stretch it.
6 Ways to Maximize Your Time and Energy
Make The Way You Use Your Time Match What Is Most Important to You: Values and Priorities:
What is most important to you should be the main determiner of how you spend your time. It’s true there will always be things you have to do even if we don’t want to. But the root of those things should be in one of your values. When we feel like our schedule is out of balance, it’s important to take the time to ask ourselves some questions: I like these questions from coach, Tony Stoltzfus:
What’s really important?
Where do you invest the best of your time and energy, why?
What are the enduring priorities that drive your decisions?
Then list out 3-5 value/priority statements and how they play out in your everyday actions to help you align your calendar with your values.
Now compare them to what your calendar and every day schedule/routine looks like. Do they match each other?
When to Say “Yes” and “No”
Have you ever heard yourself saying “yes” to a request from someone and you thought to yourself, “what in the world am I saying?” When you aren’t intentional about how and when you say “yes” and “no” we can easily be caught off guard or find ourselves agreeing to things that don’t match what you really want. As a result, you will end up saying “yes” to things that you really don’t want to and “no” to the things that you really do want to be saying “yes” to. Instead, take the answers to your questions above and form a criteria for saying “yes” or “no” based on those. In the book, Drop the Ball, the author, Tiffany Dufu, suggests developing a set of questions to help you evaluate when you take on a new obligation to make sure it matches with your values and priorities. For more information on when to say “yes” read this blog post.
Use Tools to Stretch Your Time
There are many tools we can use to do things quicker and with more ease. One of the most beneficial tools, is knowing what your abilities and likes are. For example, knowing what kind of a person you are when it comes to what time of day you do your tasks? Are you someone that is fresh first thing in the morning or late at night? Do you dislike laundry but love to cook? Instead, of feeling frustrated by those traits in yourself use them to do the things you enjoy the most at the time when you have the most energy. For example, I have a friend who is a night person, instead of resisting that she sleeps in and stays up later to use that time in the evening to play on her strengths and get the most done. Other tools that you can use are ways of organizing your time like, batching or chunking, which means to do things like run a bunch of errands at once instead of one here and there. Another time tool, is planning for obstacles that come up. For example if you have small children, but want to run a bunch of errands at once plan for the need to eat and have fun in between the errands. Yet another time tool, is meal and grocery planning. These are tasks that can seem cumbersome but save a lot of time and energy in the long run. Read my blog post on tools for more information on different time tools.
Beat the Brain Gremlin
How you think about what you do and how you do it has a greater impact than you often want to recognize. Messages that you let yourself believe, like
“You will never be able to have time for yourself.”
“You are a failure when it comes to balance.”
“You are a terrible mother when it comes to spending time with your kids.”
“You are selfish to want time to yourself.”
What we say in our heads has a big impact to either drain our energy or boost our energy for the tasks and responsibilities that we have. So the thinking through and planning for the mental game of maximizing our time is just as important as the calendar scheduling. Whether intentional or unintentional we feel like there is a benefit to shaming ourselves. But the truth is that shaming rarely produces a positive result. Instead, Brene’ Brown says in Daring Greatly that we need to tell a close friend about where we are getting stuck in negative thinking. Then talk to ourselves the way we talk to someone we love very much to help us break the shame cycle that defeats us. A great way to do this is by coming up with positive statements about yourself that you can post around your house and sew into your brain like:
“I am doing the best I can.”
“I am a great wife and mother.”
“God gives me the strength I need for each day.”
“I value time with my kids and husband most.”
“I am a gifted mom.”
“I don’t have to be perfect.”
Very practically speaking how we manage our calendar, schedule, routine, and daily to dos does make a big difference. Having a way of organizing your daily tasks and thoughts is a powerful way to stretch your time. First, get it all out on paper. Then consider what resonates with you in regard to organizing your tasks each day. It’s important to consider options like a to do list, bullet list, mind mapping, scheduling your activities in your calendar, or using an organizational app. I discuss this techniques more this post. Be realistic in your expectations for each day. Plan for the need for down time and surprises to come up. Evaluate whether what you have listed matches the values and priorities that we discussed above. Be willing to recognize when it is too much.
Don’t Do It All
When it comes to my time, it’s easy to say well I just have to do…. When it isn’t really true. I have a lot of freedom to negotiate how I do things. My husband and I negotiate what tasks we each do and what tasks we will hire someone else to do or just decide not to do at this point in our lives. One of the ways that I save time as a mompreneur is exchanging childcare with a friend whose daughter is the same age as my youngest daughter. I can maximize the time and energy I spend working by being able to work in a big chunk when my daughter is at her house or when her daughter is playing at my house and occupying my daughter. This also meets my values because my daughter is getting social time through a play date while I work, which is really important to me. There are also many ways to use a little bit of money to hire a service and save my time. It won’t be the same for everyone, but money can be well spent hiring services like: meal delivery service, cleaning service, laundry service, lawn service, day care, accountant, or errand service.
Let’s face it…there are definitely times when it feels like our schedules are a runaway train. However, with each ebb and flow of your life there are so many ways to plan and tweak how your lifestyle so that what you do matches what your true calling and desires are.
Let me leave with some resources. There are many great books out there about time and using it in a way that is productive and meaningful. Two books that have really resonated with me I reviewed here: The Fringe Hours and Drop the Ball. And I also recently finished a book, Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening the Soul to Rest, about using time for rest and spiritual rejuvenation. I devote a fair amount of time curating content on my Pinterest page that will be helpful for you. Check out my Time/Energy Management board for many great articles to maximize your time.
I have shared a meaty post with you. Do not let yourself be overwhelmed by it. Instead, take one of the things that I said that resonated with you put the work in the change your every day. Hiring a life coach to help you tackle how you view and use your most important resource, time, can very powerfully multiply your time and energy. I would love to partner with you to multiply your time and energy or contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-428-5973) to talk about getting together a group of your close friends to do a mini workshop to multiply your time and energy.