How to get it all done…and have some time for yourself too!
I am often asked “How do you get so much done? How do you take care of yourself?” Kids, work…I’ll admit that it’s not always easy. But that question usually leads to the great topic of time management. What does that really mean? Managing time? Let’s break it down and hopefully you can walk away with a new way to think about time.
First, I want you to know that in order to manage time, you need to manage your mind. Did you get that? Another way to think about that same phrase is that management of time is an indication of the management of your mind. It's a mental construct. We get to think whatever we want to think about time, because time is in your mind.
Hundreds and hundreds of years ago, we made up the concept of time. We made up that there are seven days in a week. We made up that there are 24 hours in a day. And how do we use our time…those seven days in a week, 24 hours in a day, or sometimes I like to say one hundred and sixty-eight hours in a week?
Often, we think that time is something that is happening to us and we don't have enough. Have you ever said, “I don't have enough time?” Well, ponder this: You do have enough time, if you decide you have enough time. Something takes as long as it's going to take. So, if you decide that, it's going to take that long. Read on for an example.
In recording my podcast episodes, I set aside one hour. I need to record each podcast episode and it is going to take me no more than an hour. To be honest, I don't want it to take any more than an hour, because I have other things on my agenda and I feel like I can deliver my message to you within that time frame. I don't even want the podcast to go an hour. That's just me setting it up and thinking about it. So, if it takes you a year to write a book, you have decided it's going to take you a year to write a book. Some people decide it's only going to take them 30 days to write a book, and they do it in 30 days.
What is affecting your focus and your time? I, with the help of some other coaches, have identified a few things that are really problems in our brain. When we think about time, why is it so difficult? I'm going to share with you four potential problems when thinking about time. The first problem I think might be the most recognized when I say it, but the most unrecognized if I don't say it.
- How you identify yourself and your life affects how you show up in your relationship with time. So, when you say, “I'm busy,” or “I'm a procrastinator, that's just the way I am,” That affects your productivity. You’re putting a label on it: busy, procrastinator or last-minute person. If you're identifying yourself as one of those things, then that's how you're showing up in relationship to time. Pretty interesting, right?
Often, we think of those labels as badges of honor; like it's a badge of honor to stay late. “I'm the guy that stays late until the end of the day. I stay until after everybody has gone home already.” It’s like the “late guy or badge of honor.” Same thing on this one: “I'm the one that shows up on time and ready to get things done”- badge of honor. All of these are ways we identify ourselves. So, if you are sloppy, so to speak, at time management, then you're sloppy at how you're naming yourself or identifying yourself. It's a problem.
- Problem number two is planning. Are you a list-maker? Do you declare that your list equals planning? Is your list really planning and how good is that list in terms of how it relates to time? Things on a list by themselves have no timeframe. You may think that you are “planning,” by making that list, but you're not relating that list to any particular time. So,problem two actually leads to problem number three: Management.
- This goes back to my favorite phrase, “management of time indicates management of mind.” How you're spending your time really, really, shows what you value. So, go back and take a look. How did you spend your time yesterday? Does that align with what you value most? Oftentimes not. OK, so how you manage your time shows what you value to the world.
- Problem number four is really the culture we live in. It's OK to be busy, it's OK to be late, it's OK to not have enough time. And it forces us when we say these things to apologize to ourselves and to others. Just because this is the way our culture is, does not make it right people, but it is how things are.
If you have some of the problems that I've identified, it just means that you haven't really created time management skills yet. Underline that – yet. Yes, you can improve these skills. Imagine what would it look like if you had all of this in place; if you had all of this time stuff worked out? And you were on time all the time and had super-efficient meetings? What would that look like? How would that affect your results? Or, what if you knew what everything on your list involved and had it a designated time slot on your calendar? When you are able to set your life up like this, that you're just going to be on time and you're going to plan and manage, and then you identify yourself as someone who manages their time and is on time, your whole world is going to change! It's going to be a reflection of how you show up in the world.
Now you’re going to ask, “what about all those things that just suddenly come up? You know, all those fires?” Guess what? You can accommodate the things that come up if you have a process for it. And we'll dive into that little later.
First, I want you to take two seconds. And I want you to think about what is important to you. What are your priorities? So often, people might say my family is a priority. My work is a priority, taking care of myself is a priority. So, write your priorities down and number them one to five. And then, write down how you spent your time yesterday. Do they match up, meaning does how you spent your time yesterday align with your five priorities?
So, wake up! We need to change something. Because if you're reading this, you are probably someone who wants to be a deliberate creator of their life. I like to say that sometimes you want to move with deliberate direction in a deliberate direction. And to be a deliberate creator of the life you're living, you need to be deliberate as to how you spend your time. You have to think about tomorrow, today, and you have to plan for tomorrow, today. I encourage you to list your priorities out and then examine how you are spending your time. You could do this in a couple of different ways. Here are some ideas: You could create a time journal, and you could reflect at the end of each day how you spent your time. You could go into your digital calendar and assess how you spent your time, even the times in between what I call your hard appointments. Take a look at what you did with that “free time,” the time between appointments. However you want to do it, I want to encourage you to look at how you're spending your time and create awareness.
Think about those 24 hours in the day. Try to think of them really as $24,000. What are you going to do with each thousand dollars? How are you going to spend each hour now? You're going to resist doing this because you're going to tell me it's a waste of time. And you already know that you could do better with time management. But, I can’t stress enough how helpful it is to write down how you are spending your time.
You’re thinking, “this all sounds all great, but when I look at my week ahead, how can I do things differently?” I learned this concept of Monday Hour One from one of my coaches, Brooke Castillo, and I really do think it is brilliant. Here's what I do: I usually do this on Sunday, not on Monday. But it sounds better when you call it Monday Hour One, or you could call it Sunday Hour One. Whenever you do it, I want you to get out a pad of paper and then download everything you want to get done in the week ahead, or in the month ahead or even in the year ahead. I want you to brain dump it onto paper- everything you want to do and everything you have to do. And when you think you've written down everything, I want to ask yourself, “what else?” And think about it. Fill that paper. The paper may include things related to work, it also may have things related to kids or family, like “do the laundry.” I want you to put everything down on that paper. Now, once you do that, it's probably going to look super overwhelming. SUPER OVERWHELMING. But it's going to help you see all that is swimming around in your head and it's going to help you deliberately decide how to spend your time. So after you write it all down, I want you now to put things, not in order of priority, but I want you to scan it and circle the things that are the priorities. As you look at that, you're probably going to see that there are things that are what I call “tasks” that are quick things to do. And then there are bigger things that are “projects” that aren’t so quick.
Whether they're quick or not, or whether they're tasks or projects, they're both important. And that is what you need to focus on, and that is what needs to go on your calendar; both the tasks that are important and the projects that are important. In order to get those projects on your calendar, you're going to have to break them into pieces, into smaller tasks, in order to find a time to do them. This is key.
Why are those projects that are priorities not getting done? That’s like asking why cleaning out the garage isn’t getting done. Because it's a project. It's huge. It seems like it's something insurmountable to do. The takeaway tip here is to break that project into tasks and then just put the tasks on the calendar.
When I work with my clients, sometimes we spend weeks on this kind of thing. I am just giving you a basic rough draft of how to do it but know that you can create a new system to manage your time, but it involves managing your mind as well.
Now you're saying, “yeah, that's all great, but even when I have that list, there are a lot of times that I don't want to do what's on the list.” Yes, I hear you. That’s called resistance. You are resisting what is on your calendar or even what's on the list. Oftentimes we are resisting because we then think that we are at the mercy of our calendar, like our calendar is running our life. But here are some new things I want you to believe: I want you to believe that you want to do these things instead of having to do them. I want you to believe that when you put it on that list or even better, when you put it on the calendar, it is optional. It is optional that you tackle that at 10:00 a.m. When you put it on your calendar a few days ago for 10 a.m., you had a choice then, so you're not at the mercy of your calendar. You chose a few days ago to do that at 10 a.m. I also want you to believe that you are using this new method of planning because you are taking care of yourself, and that you've scheduled in some free time. Start to plan on there being resistance. And when it does come up, you just say, “oh, hi there, resistance, I knew you were on your way, but I'm going to do it anyway. I'm going to do what I had planned to do anyway.”
Imagine your life where you do everything you say you're going to do. Imagine how your life would be different. The main difference between now and then is that you have had to move through the resistance. Move through it, so resistance doesn't mean “stop,” it actually means that you do it even though you don't feel like it. Feeling resistance is normal, but you need to move through it. Think of it a bit like your payment, but there's always a benefit on the other side of moving through the resistance. It's like when you approach a roundabout – you yield, you resist going through until you assess the situation, but then you keep going. You don't stop and turn around.
You’re going to want to negotiate with yourself but stop negotiating. Stick to your plan. We often like to negotiate work time for personal time or personal time for work time. You’re just going to finish that one more work thing and you’ll have some personal time or I'm just going to watch one more episode before I get back to work. And then in that case, you're negotiating work time. You will try to negotiate but honor your commitment. Give your tasks the focus that they deserve.
Once you start to get into a habit of managing your mind so you can manage your time, you will see huge changes in your life in general.
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