We live in an age where you can’t possibly get everything done. It’s time to accept that. But, I still want you to get a lot of dreams accomplished and feel great about what you do with your days. It’s important to face the fact that time is the currency of life and it’s sacred. Probably now more than ever, you are feeling the pinch of that truth with autumn beginning and your schedule getting tighter as you pile on more. You are not unique in this regard; time management is the most popular subject about which our clients consistently request coaching. So, for all of these reasons, I am dedicating this blog to helping you stop squandering your time and feeling out of control about it. You cannot accomplish everything, but you can accomplish a lot of what is important to you with awareness, smart thinking and good promises. Now, read on for five ways you waste time and how to stop.
1) You think giving less effort feels better.
I learn this almost every time I exercise. My mentality is that if I conserve my energy, I will feel better. It’s like I don’t want to give in to the point of exercising! Maybe you’ve caught yourself in this kind of thinking, too. Luckily, I notice this (or remember my coach recommending it) and kick it up to giving 100%. Jumping actually feels better than trying to keep my feet on the floor during aerobics. All of a sudden, I am way more out of breath; I even may need to take an occasional break, but undeniably, I feel proud and happy. I have just made my workout more efficient, more fun and more empowering (so maybe I could spend less time). The high from endorphins and pushing myself also lasts far beyond the workout.
This has Uni-versal implications. Think of times when you gave 100% to something. You probably resisted at first and then some higher voice kicked in, or some urgency (like a due date looming or a wedding gown to fit into) and suddenly you became bionic. Well, it turns out you can press the “bionic button” yourself, any time, if you want. Today. Regarding any “to do” you have, even if it’s laundry. It will make you faster, smarter and more fun.
2) You think it’s not your job.
I am upset to find that I waste mental energy denying, avoiding or justifying not getting to certain tasks, like thinking through something or cleaning up something. I tell myself someone else could do it better, or I’d be enabling someone else’s dependency if I did it, or it’s just not my job. All of these are code for “brat attack.” The truth is, if it’s “talking to me,” it’s probably mine to handle. It doesn’t mean I can’t delegate it, but I have to actually do that. The coaching here is: for all “to dos” that cross your path, boldly claim them as yours (and plan to accomplish them) or boldly and clearly delegate them. Either way, it is more efficient than discussing it with yourself or others ad nasueum.
3) You don’t like to ask for help.
I swear playing martyr often feels better in the moment than actually being powerful and effective. I actually get scared at the mere thought of effectively running a huge business. It keeps me feeling comfortable to be stressed, overwhelmed and mired in details. If I asked for help, then I’d have to be clear, direct, lead, be strategic and think bigger. Hard. Scary. (Me=Chicken.) If I asked for help, then I wouldn’t look like I had it all together. If I asked for help, then I wouldn’t get credit for doing everything myself. (Me=Brat.)
I bet you have some similarly sneaky, dark reasons for not asking for help, but you’ll never accomplish everything you want to without a team. You need to learn to ask for help. You waste a lot of time doing things that people around you should be doing, could be doing or might even be good for them to practice. So, start thinking of chores you can give your kids and more responsibilities you can give to administrative staff or interns at the office. Some of you even need a promise to make three requests a day. It’s fun to find out how people like to help.
4) You don’t admit when you are on a break.
Because you like to look busy, important or put upon, you can’t admit when you are taking breaks. Yes, surfing the internet at work is a break, social networking (unless totally connected to work) is a break, staring off into space, talking with your mother, texting, listening to music as you drive, are all breaks. It’s not that we shouldn’t do these things, it’s just that we don’t relate to them as breaks. When we deny we take breaks, we get to be more stressed, and some of us are addicted to our stress. Feeling out of control makes us very inefficient.
What if you had to commit to and design your breaks and give THEM 100% attention and purpose? And of course, you’d put the same commitment and design into your work time. This would take all the stress away, all the drama out of time management. It’s terrifically grounding to know you can expect a break, give it to yourself, enjoy it and then go back to work with 100% gusto. Your parents may not have taught you this (though religions have tried), but I believe it is true: you need breaks and you need to fully break. Join me in this theory: the better you are at breaking, the better you will be at work. Instead of wasting time on many meandering, bratty, entitled, unplanned breaks, design fewer, shorter, more mature and richer ones.
5) Drama takes time.
When you deny how much time something requires and then have to do it at the last minute, you aren’t as sharp or efficient. When you involve other people, but don’t express your needs clearly, you create confusion that takes time to resolve. It’s so important to learn from these mistakes and put structures in for correcting yourself. I have a promise to prepare for leading events more than 24 hours in advance. That way, I save energy I would have spent stressing about being unprepared and have a clear head so that I prepare efficiently. Also, like the first example of exercise above, the pride I feel from preparing in advance (versus rushed at the end or winging it) gives me energy and focus for the rest of the day. Here’s more on how can you avoid drama in your life:
- Learn how much time things take and then, still pad your plans with extra hours, days or weeks to account for the unexpected; then use what you’ve learned in your scheduling.
- Make rules for preparation and teamwork that protect against your common pitfalls of ineffectiveness. (Like my 24 hour promise in #5.)
- Resolve to be someone who has difficult conversations as issues arise, so nothing ever becomes a huge, time-consuming mess. Clearing the air always frees up time and energy.
I hope you had a nice break reading this!
P.S.- We are offering two fantastic teleseminars: Mastering Time, on 9/20 and Dive into the Promise of You, on 9/27. Both will have specific coaching on managing your time and your committing to your priorities.
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Laurie Gerber is President of Handel Group® Life Coaching, an international coaching company, which specializes in teaching individuals to take focused and powerful action in every area of their lives. You can connect with Laurie on Facebook at HG Life Coaching.