The never ending challenge of time management

I have a confession. I am publishing this blog a couple of days later than I originally wanted to. I had a busy start to the week and felt I didn’t have the time to write it. Each time I considered starting to write it, an email popped up or I remembered something else that needed to be done more urgently. By this morning, I realised that I would never find the time to sit and write this. I would have to create time to write it.

Clear Glass With Red Sand Grainer

We often moan about not having time to do the things that we want. We’re too busy to call our parents, send a thank you note, or actively spend time winding down and relaxing after a busy day. Busyness has become a bit of a badge of honour in today’s hectic world, and I know I’m guilty of blaming time as a reason for not doing something I know I really should have done.

It’s easy to get frustrated with the stresses and pressures of everyday conflicting priorities. Balancing a career with life admin, chores, hobbies and relationships is tricky. Not to mention the added pressure to squeeze in some down time as we desperately seek the perfect “work/life balance” we’re told to achieve.

I’ve done some reflecting on my own style of time management and noted down some of the key things I’ve learnt over the past few months. Some points may seem a little obvious, but it’s easy to get distracted from the simple fact that all of us have exactly same amount of hours in the day, but we all choose to spend it very differently.

Without remembering this learning today, I probably wouldn’t have got round to writing this blog until next week.

1) How you spend your time is up to you

It’s really easy to forget that ultimately, we are the ones who are in control of deciding how we spend our days, hours and minutes. I’m not saying it’s easy (or sustainable) for me to spend my days exactly how I would like to (sunbathing, looking after dogs, drinking prosecco etc), but reminding myself that I am the chief decision maker in my life and career is always helpful when evaluating how I spend my time.

Your job might be crazy busy and there may be tonnes of work to do, but if you’re choosing to stay in put in the job without changing the situation, the reality is likely to continue. By recognising that the big decisions you make in your life affect the make up of your day-to-day living, you can decide whether you’re happy to keep spending your time this way, or if there is something you want to change.

2) Time isn’t found, it’s created

When I was trying to find the time to write this blog, I couldn’t find it anywhere. There seemed no feasible slot for working on it, as there was always something else I felt I should be doing. When I reminded myself how important writing regular content is for me, I realised that I couldn’t passively wait until an opportune moment sprang up with a perfect pocket of time for me to leisurely write my blog . I had to decide when I was going to write it, and do it. Rather than waiting for the perfect time to do something, decide when you want to do it, and commit to carving out time to do it then.

3) It’s even easier to procrastinate less fun jobs

Linking to the second point, I’ve found it’s particularly easy to struggle to “find time” for jobs that I secretly don’t want to do. I’m great at finding perfectly legitimate excuses not to do stuff that I don’t feel like doing.

In these cases, I’ve asked myself honestly – even if I don’t feel like doing it, do I ultimately want it done? If the answer is yes, I either a) do it now, or b) schedule in a specific time to do it soon. If the answer is no; I don’t want to do it, I decide not to do it and forget about it.

4) Multitasking isn’t productive

Multitasking is a guilty pleasure of mine (along with pizza and reality TV). I like the buzz of feeling busy, and sometimes feel a little smug that I’m getting one up on time by doing more than one thing at the same time. Unfortunately I’ve come to accept that as much as it can create a false sense of efficiency, it very rarely works.

When I try and type emails during calls, I get distracted and have to re-write it once I hang up the phone. When I respond to emails and take calls in the middle of writing an article or blog, it takes me twice as long to write. There are precious few things I am good at multitasking at (drinking wine and watching Big Brother, for example) but most of the time, I have found the most efficient way of getting things done is to focus on one thing at a time.

What have you failed to find time for this week?

When will you create time to do it?

If you’d like to get in touch to discuss how coaching could help you take responsibility for managing your own time, get in touch here.

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