I really never intended to be a time management guru. What I really wanted was to help people identify their dreams, then coach, train and support people and organizations while they implemented those dreams.
Over the years, I’ve coached lots of people through change. One thing that always vexes them is time. How to use it? What to do with it? How to prioritize so that you bring your best ideas into fruition and not just get stuck in “the way things have always been?”
Don’t worry. Managing time vexes me, too.
When I first started my business, I struggled to manage all my time without the structure of being employed by an organization. Without the “tyranny of the urgent” imposed on me by a regular job, I struggled to get things done (usually the things I wasn’t as good at or not interested in).
A coach invited me to consider time blocking: putting the tasks I needed to get done (but was not currently getting done) on my calendar. That would bring my awareness to the work I needed to get done on my daily, weekly and monthly calendar. And if I needed to schedule a meeting or event over that block, at least I’d have to do something with the appointment on my calendar, too. For example, I now have a monthly time block to review expenses and income in my accounting software. Definitely not a task I get super excited about, but needs to be done nevertheless.
If you’re struggling to get things like this done, too, you might try out time blocking.
- Be aware of how you use time. (Start logging how you use all your time in an app like Hours, which I use.)
- Note what work is getting done/not getting done. (Most apps will have a feature to run weekly or monthly reports to find out just what you are spending time on.)
- Reduce the length of time spent on some tasks or eliminate them entirely if they aren’t important.
- Block time on your calendar for the important things on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. (Self-care practices should go here, too!)
Try this for a month and see what you become aware of. Add time blocks for particular recurring tasks that you may struggle to get done. Put your time for self-care, workouts, classes, friends and family activities, etc., in your calendar so you don’t ignore that either.
Although this four-step process may feel mechanical, it is an exercise in mindfulness. Becoming more aware of how you use your time, being present to how your body/mind/spirit is affected, and making changes to your time that align with your needs and values is your mindfulness practice in action.
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